Maya Markovich: Legal Tech and The Client Experience

In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Maya Markovich discuss:

  • The evolution of the legal tech industry.
  • The growing need for focus on client-centric law practices.
  • Useful technologies that can help lawyers run a more efficient practice.
  • How COVID has changed the legal industry for the better.

Key Takeaways:

  • We all have to fight together for access to justice. The law is not set up to be client-centric, and there is no single solution to change this.
  • Robots and AI are not replacing lawyers. There is more than enough work to go around and the new technologies will free up lawyers for more strategic things than something like document review.
  • Think about how the client is experiencing service at your firm and consider ways to make it more streamlined for your client.
  • Law firms grow faster and serve the clients better when they focus on a niche, and don’t try to be everything to everyone.

“There’s this increased focus on client experience, which, I think, is long overdue. Client expectations are continually increasing, and there’s going to be more and more emphasis on value-based services and tailored pricing models.” —  Maya Markovich

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Show notes by Podcastologist Chelsea Taylor-Sturkie

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Maya Markovich, Narrator, Steve Fretzin, Jordan Ostroff


Maya Markovich  [00:00]

I think there’s, you know, this increased focus on client experience, which I think is long overdue. client expectations are continually increasing, you know, there’s going to be more and more emphasis on value based services and tailored pricing models, that kind of thing.


Narrator  [00:18]

You’re listening to be that lawyer, life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Each episode, your host, author and lawyer, coach, Steve Fretzin, will take a deeper dive, helping you grow your law practice in less time with greater results. Now, here’s your host, Steve Fretzin.


Steve Fretzin  [00:40]

Hey, everybody, welcome to be that lawyer. I hope you’re having a lovely day. Ah, I am here in Chicago still experiencing the winter men. If you’re from warmer clients, then you probably know it’s brutal here. But you listen, we’re leaning into it, we’re not we’re not going to complain. If you complain, just get out of the state, go to go somewhere warm. That’s an option. Listen, it’s all about helping you to not just understand the weather, because that’s a part of it. But it’s more about being that lawyer someone who’s competent organized a skilled Rainmaker. And if you’ve been listening to the show once, twice, or for a while now you know that I try to bring on great guests to educate you on best practices to figure out, you know, where is all this going? And what tips and ideas can you take away that are going to help you in your pursuits of having a well balanced life and career in legal, and I’ve got I’m going to introduce my, my guest, Maya, in just a moment. But I want to take a moment to thank our sponsors legalese, marketing, and money, Penny, both great partners for me, and helping me to assume administrative and marketing responsibilities in letting me do what I do best, which is the show and also helping lawyers to get to the next level as it relates to their growing practices. And the quote that, that Maya gave me is, it always seems impossible until it’s done. And that’s a Nelson Mandela quote, and welcome to the show, Mike, how you doing?


Maya Markovich  [02:02]

I’m doing great. Thank you so much for having me, Steve. I’m a big fan.


Steve Fretzin  [02:05]

Oh, I appreciate that. Appreciate that. And so you’re a legal tech expert. And so this show is going to be all about legal tack. And do me a favor and just give a little bit of your background, because you’ve been in so many different roles in so many different ways in the legal industry in the legal tech industry. I just find it fascinating.


Maya Markovich  [02:23]

Yeah, sir. Well, I mean, I grew up in Silicon Valley, you know, the tech industry was exploding around us. So it’s always was always started there. And it was never foreign or unknown to me as a concept for improving the way things are done. And then the way work gets done. And, you know, I have a background in behavioral science worked for that initially led me to working in change management consulting in tech. After a little while with that, I decided I wanted to go to law school. So I wanted to have the broader social impact. And I wanted the JD that would give me that. So I practice for several years thereafter, as a junior attorney, I was always kind of the one being pushed towards the technology to figure that out. And I came to see it as really a sort of an equitable access to justice issue, something that provided you know, if it’s done deployed the right way, makes for have happier lawyers, happier clients, you know, lower risk, better results simultaneously kind of decided I didn’t want to become a law partner. So I moved over to product marketing and product management roles in various legal tech companies. Then next law labs found me just as it was getting off the ground, you know, and I did a lot of work there internally working with practice leaders on their technology and innovation strategies and implementation. Also working with next law ventures, vetting over 500 legal tech companies, and accelerating them. Also, I’m an advisor and an innovator in residence at Lex Lab, which is legal tech accelerator at my alma mater, UC Hastings. And now I’m advising multiple high growth legal tech startups and I’m also an executive in residence with village capital on their justice tech initiative. Is that all


Steve Fretzin  [04:07]

right, Holy mackerel, like I said to everybody read Holy mackerel. I just got it in spades. You know, just to go back for a moment. You know, this is a maya Markiewicz, who has been in legal tech for many, many years as you’re hearing and just just to go back again, it always seems impossible until it’s done. That’s a Nelson Mandela quote, why did you submit that quote to me, what does that quote


Maya Markovich  [04:28]

mean to you? Um, you know, I in in legal tech and innovation, particularly, we’re all kind of driving purposefully towards some unknown goal. We can take lessons from other industries, you know, we can bring in the client perspective, more we can, you know, do all of those things, but, but really, it’s something that just seems insurmountable until, you know, until you get you see some tangible difference and moving the needle.


Steve Fretzin  [04:58]

Yeah, yeah. And I think it is just, you know, that’s, that’s the human the human experience is, you know, we’re only as powerful as our imagination and our minds and what we decide to make real, you know, whether it’s, it’s coming up with a, you know, regrowing a limb, which I hear is now a thing, they’re working that out with frogs or something, and then, you know, like, you know, people’s got pigs hearts, you know, they’re putting pigs hearts and people. So it’s just, it’s just, we’re only, only our imaginations are the limit. So let’s get into the weeds then a little bit about kind of where the action is in the legal industry today. What’s what’s happening, there’s, you know, people are, you know, seeing all types of new new technologies popping up. And there’s a lot of changes in how law is done. And obviously, with the COVID situation, people are moving to virtual war. And what are you kind of seeing is the hot buttons right now?


Maya Markovich  [05:52]

Well, I would say where’s the action in the legal industry with respect to modernizing the business and practice of law is certainly kind of there are pockets that are that are growing, I would say, obviously, there’s been a big growth in the LSPs, you can’t call them really alternative legal service providers anymore, these legal consulting companies that are really coming in and providing a much needed support system for firms and legal departments that are trying to, you know, bring in the lessons from other industries and try to kind of do better by their own clients be their internal or external clients. I also think kind of at a macro level, I’m seeing a lot of, you know, a growth of these very specialized and boutique firms, as well as, you know, very big firms growing even bigger at the top to serve to serve their multinational clients globally. Yeah,


Steve Fretzin  [06:46]

really interesting. And then you’re just to add to it, obviously, what’s going on in Arizona and Utah, and some of the other states as it relates to, you know, non lawyer owned law practices? What are you seeing there?


Maya Markovich  [07:01]

A lot. And there’s a lot of overlap, actually, with the with the justice tech work that I’m doing with village capital, and I’m working with founders in the space. And some of the I think, the you know, there’s a lot of resistance. But at the same time, there’s also a lot of really great success coming out of Utah, and again, like Arizona with a slightly modified model of that other states are coming on board, you know, other states have declined to do that. And I but I do think that while that kind of thing is moving at a glacial pace, that it’s gathering momentum, there was just an editorial in the LA Times last week about this issue that was incredibly persuasive. If you ask me.


Steve Fretzin  [07:46]

Yeah, I mean, I’m not interested at this stage in my career, getting involved in helping a law firm grow business, other than coaching and training in the things that I do, as opposed like being a partner of a law firm. And maybe that’s, that’s in my future, you know, in five or 10 years, I don’t know. But it’s, it’s interesting to me, because I know how to grow business, I teach lawyers how to do it every day. So is there, you know, a reason that I shouldn’t get involved in this and start figuring out ways to, you know, to do it, too, but, you know, obviously, it’s all about keeping your eye on the prize on what you enjoy doing and what you’re passionate about. But I can tell you, it’s tempting. There’s moments of weakness, where I think maybe I should reach out to some of my Arizona contacts and see what’s going on there and jump in, jump in, in some way, shape or form, but I don’t know, that’s just, it’s just pie in the sky type of mindset for me.


Maya Markovich  [08:35]

Well, you can always just kind of wait for the first movers like elevate and see how it goes for them and then be a fast follower.


Steve Fretzin  [08:42]

Yeah, yeah, I don’t mind doing that. I like to do that. And let’s transition it from sort of the modernization into the legal tech. There’s so many legal tech comp. I mean, how many legal tech companies you think there are right now, just in the US? I mean, are we talking hundreds 1000s?


Maya Markovich  [08:57]

Oh, no, definitely. 1000s? I don’t know, specifically in the US, but I can tell you that when nextlaw Labs was founded in 2015, there were 75 self described legal tech companies. And that included eDiscovery, which was kind of the the first what everybody thought of as legal tech at that time. And now globally, they’re, you know, at least 4000. Wow.


Steve Fretzin  [09:21]

Yeah, that’s a lot. That’s a lot. And so what are you seeing then as far as like, the modernization, but the from the technology perspective, that, like who’s getting into that Tech game? Is it is it lawyers? Is it people that that have other technologies that they see would work in one area that could work in law, and they’re jumping in what are you seeing is kind of the channel for entering into that space?


Maya Markovich  [09:42]

I mean, I would say all of the above, it’s still there’s a lot of opportunity out there. And you know, I would say I mean, they’re kind of on two fronts. So the most inspiring that I’m currently seeing are those that are who are developing tools to enable people to access their rights regardless of whether that they can hire an attorney Whether they’re matter even makes economical sense for an attorney on an attorney’s part to take them, right. So there are a lot of tools like Hello, divorce court room five, people clerk, Justice text, easy expunctions. And those are really aiming squarely at narrowing that access to justice gap. Because there’s just a certain category of legal services that can be improved by technology to serve everyone better, with, of course, the ancillary benefit very least to underrepresented people. So, to me, there’s no question that we all have to work together to fight for access to justice, as attorneys, we are to protect the public. And the law traditionally has not been set up to be client centric, it is set up for lawyers to run as a business. And I think that we’re seeing straining around the edges of of that is really coming to the fore. But there’s no single solution, right to this crisis that we need. We need more pro bono lawyers, we need more supportive self help centers, we need, you know, in focus on just how widespread the challenges are. And in the law firm sphere. You know, I mean, I think that, in general, there’s a continuation of the trends around technology, there’s more of a business minded practice that’s becoming more mainstream, you know, a reaction to kind of these changing dynamics of competition that we’re seeing for lawyers and firms. I think there’s, you know, this increased focus on client experience, which I think is long overdue, client expectations are continually increasing, you know, there’s going to be more and more emphasis on value based services and tailored pricing models, that kind of thing. You know, so law firms have to respond by boosting client service and the service experience, better transparency, or, and, you know, more collaboration tools, lots of value added services, tech enabled and supported hybrid legal services, seeing a lot of design around that, which is, you know, an excellent kind of win win win, situation, you know, and then, I mean, there’s things like, you know, increased mainstreaming of tech, you know, day to day, automation of documents, diligence, mitigating risks, increasing efficiency, and that kind of thing. And a lot of disaggregation, I think of legal work, to to lower cost platforms, you know, then there’s, you know, a lot of examples, like the really high, you know, bleeding edge, you know, AI, smart contracts, you know, those kinds of things where, where we’re really seeing the application of it, but it’s still early days, on a lot.


Steve Fretzin  [12:27]

Yeah, and, you know, more and more is coming out in the news, and even on, you know, mainstream shows, like 60 minutes, where they talk about a AI and they put up a Harvard lawyer against the AI and see who can review it more accurately and more quickly. And, you know, that’s just that’s pretty cool stuff. Now, should lawyers be afraid of legal tech from the standpoint of, you know, this could take their jobs, or that this is gonna, you know, maybe they’ll be billing a lot less hours? What’s the what’s the thought on those points?


Maya Markovich  [12:56]

So, I love this question. You didn’t, yes, but I, you know, I have I have pretty strong opinions on this. So, so first of all, no, lawyers are not coming to take the robots job. Jobs. Yeah. Here’s why. I personally, and what I’m seeing and what I, you know, what I’m intuiting is that actually, the work is actually increasing, right? There’s, there’s increased rule of law there. There’s increased risk, you know, in things like privacy, cybersecurity, there’s increasing regulatory frameworks out there all the time every day. And, and I think the work is not going away. I think it’s increasing, I think it’s just going to be done differently. I think that it’s a really great time, actually, to be an open minded lawyer, because I think that it can actually free up time from some of that drudgery that defines every lawyer’s day and more so on that. If you’re, you know, a newly minted attorney, and then you can get you know, leapfrog some of that drudgery and, and get to a point where you are doing the work that you went to law school to do that. No one does it. No one goes to law school to do doc review, but they want to have strategic conversations and deep collaborations with their clients.


Jordan Ostroff  [14:20]

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Steve Fretzin  [15:10]

So the idea is it’s going to take away a lot, it may take away a lot of billable hours. But it’s the kind of billable hours that are not really interesting or enjoyable for most attorneys. It’s the drudgery, as you said that that would be exiting, not the deep thought and strategy and tactical, you know, elements of being a lawyer.


Maya Markovich  [15:29]

Yeah, I don’t think there’s any fear of there not being enough, enough work to go around, it’s just more strategic and deeper and more interesting work, frankly,


Steve Fretzin  [15:38]

right. And the other thing that you mentioned was, you know, the ability for legal tech to come in and enact in in ways that are going to make lawyers more efficient. So they can focus on, on on the things that they want to focus on. Now, that’s either going to be enjoyable work, or in my, you know, plays, it’s going to be a more time to go out and develop business to develop the kinds of clients you want to work with not the kind of clients that you’re kind of suffering through day to day, that’s really the thing. So what are some of the tech, if you don’t mind, going back and forth with me for just a few minutes, some of the newer technology tools that are out there, and I’m happy to get started if you want me to throw one out, but that you find are really helping attorneys to get efficient with their time and really streamline how they build their practice, run their practice, and, and sort of, you know, takes away that drudgery.


Maya Markovich  [16:27]

I mean, it’s hard to generalize, because, you know, different practices just do different things. They vary such different things day in and day out, I would say and also different segments of the market. I mean, I think that, for one thing for small to midsize firms, a new client intake is something that is probably one of the least enjoyable and well, well designed experiences for the client and and also is the last opportunity for, for the attorneys on the on the side of you know, the the diving, being able to collect and dive into their own data, and Intuit trends that will kind of inform future and then better business development techniques. You know, so, you know, of course, then there’s, if you’re talking about doc review, obviously, you know, there’s there’s plenty out there on obviously, on the litigation side on the due diligence side, as well as you know, things like, you know, contract review, if you’re talking about, you know, a lot of that is in the legal operations sphere, which is, you know, a slightly different situation, but in house, you know, there’s, they’re, they’re dealing with similar backlogs that need to be worked through and can be, you know, can be optimized for, you know, maximum utility and client insight.


Steve Fretzin  [17:45]

Yeah, I mean, one that’s maybe not general, or specific to the legal industry, but that I absolutely love and I’ve been using and recommending for my clients to get involved in is the, the auto scheduling. I mean, I know I’m going to like, you know, the very specific, you know, function, but the callin li the acuity, and I’m actually using law Maddox, so that it’s in sync with my website. And so that when you go through, when I need a podcast guest that you’d like you went through, and you filled out a form, it got you the appointment, it gave me all the information, your quote, and everything that I needed to have this interview, I’m doing the same thing for intake, I’m doing the same thing for networking meetings. And so my day is not back and forth on email all day trying to get things arranged, it’s just happening, it’s happening quickly, efficiently. And I’m not in the picture, other than opening up certain gaps of my day for certain types of interviews and things like certain types of meetings, etc. So that’s, that’s one example. I’m sure there’s dozens of these little technologies that are coming out that are just making us more efficient and how we do things in so that I guess that’s where I was, what I was thinking was if there were additional technologies that you’re seeing that are helping lawyers just run a more efficient practice.


Maya Markovich  [18:58]

Yeah, I mean, your your example of the podcast kind of application thing is perfect, because what I think is, crucially, missing in so many of these things across the board is the is the end user experience, right? Like for me, it was it was super easy, straightforward, and all in one place, to be able to interact with you on that basis, there was a lack of back and forth it was you know, there was a there wasn’t any kind of things getting lost and you know, falling through the cracks. And, and it was it was an excellent experience on my side as well. And I think that that is something that really I mean, you know, new client intake is, it should be you know, and I hate to sound like you know, every Silicon Valley, female entrepreneur, but the thing is, is you’ve got to delight the customer. If it if it’s a negative experience coming in the door, then then it’s you’re you’re setting yourself up for a dynamic that is not going to be as productive or or are strong. And I think so. So anything, you know, client related, I mean, there are a lot of really great kind of program. There’s platforms out there that support kind of client collaboration, like a client front door kind of thing. Yep. And that clients love that. And they need that. And they’re getting it


Steve Fretzin  [20:17]

per month. And that’s, that’s all sort of great. But it’s my it’s also great point around around intake, that, you know, people that have the phone trees, you know, push one for this, press two for that, that takes you to a voicemail, you leave a voicemail, who’s calling you back, when are they calling you back? How am I in there’s business being lost? And there’s, there’s people getting upset? I know, think about it, you’re online with 18. T, you’re online with it with Blue Cross Blue Shield trying to get some insurance information. It’s it’s turning into an absolute disaster of, of how do we get information fast and what we need. And so I think that’s the frustration that I think people have. And if you’re looking for a lawyer, even even someone a receptionist answering and saying he’s on a call, can I take a message and call you back? may not be as good as you know, you know, tell me what’s going on. And let’s get you in his calendar and just get it done. Right. And that that’s, that’s sometimes lacking. So I think people sometimes are missing what the experience should be, and whether they’re, they’re losing people right off the bat, or let’s say they’re getting people but they’re not off to the best start. And that’s problematic.


Maya Markovich  [21:26]

Exactly, exactly. And the other thing is, is that, you know, it’s it’s what’s key to remember in that is that your competitors are doing, right? And so and what’s going to what’s going to drive the most loyalty is an experience that’s easy in terms of interaction and collaboration. Now, so where do we


Steve Fretzin  [21:45]

go from here? I mean, what’s what’s the next five to 10 years look like? And what are you seeing as far as innovations that are going to be, you know, maybe surprising to us?


Maya Markovich  [21:58]

You know, I mean, I think technology is going to become more and more intertwined in the way that legal services are delivered much in the way that adjacent verticals, you know, we’ve seen in you know, FinTech, ad tech, all that kind of thing, all those kinds of kind of more mature industries, I think, I think it’s starting to become really clear which firms are focusing on coming out of this situation, the current situation that we’re in,


Steve Fretzin  [22:23]

what is that would?


Maya Markovich  [22:25]

So I don’t know, the last couple of years. Yeah, you know, which firms are focused on coming out of it better than they were before, which are thinking it’s kind of this temporary shift. And we’ll all be back to how it was before soon or eventually, you know, some firms and legal departments are shelving, and are abandoning innovation or transformation projects, or, you know, just workflow streamlining, and others are leaning into them with a focus on that mid and longer term future where I really think that clients are going to need us more than ever before. So I mean, I think law law will never be the same. Clients will meet us more, not the old school kind of lawyer, but these trusted counselors who can think creatively and have deep knowledge of their business and have the EQ to understand their needs. Which leads me to another thing I think I’m seeing more and more of, thankfully. Which is, well, it’s a challenge that starts with legal education, right? Legal Education, generally focuses almost exclusively on analytical reasoning. So it’s like working out only your bicep, right? Are you seeing now we’re seeing downward pressure from employers, and upward pressure from law students to train them better. And so we’re going to need to educate and train via career development programs for emotional intelligence, these whole brain skills, the psychology behind business development, which you’re the perfect person to talk about the need to work with diverse teams to increase the odds of success, that kind of thing? And the other thing I would say is, you know, I’m seeing more and more, honestly, you know, I’m seeing more and more that the legal industry is responding to market pressures to increase equity in whatever sphere in which they’re operating. So as consumers of legal tech, they’re being asked to, they’re asking more questions about Dei, in tech companies, they’re considering subscribing to, you know, not only that equity inside, what is your hiring look like retention and all that, but also equity out the impact your technology has on the customers? What is the dev team makeup look like? Are there any checks and balances are in place to prevent against code bias? And the reason they’re asking those questions, because their clients are asking them those questions about the technologies that they will that the lawyers will be using to support them. And I, you know, that’s happening in the investor side as well. You know, it’s very well documented, that companies are much more successful if they’ve got, you know, these strong policies around this stuff, and they grow much faster if they’re building to serve just one slice of the potential customer base. And when you’re talking about law, which is as one of my dear friends cat moons always said As the as the OS of human society and touches every single person on earth in one way or another, it’s just you know, the the impact the potential impact there is just exponential. Yeah.


Steve Fretzin  [25:12]

In let me ask you this. I know we talked at the very beginning about about how many legal tech companies there are, there are lawyers who may decide that they want to take their their legal background and they want to get into legal tech is now a good time for them to get into it if they’ve got a really good concept or is now a bad time. Because just it’s too busy and competitive.


Maya Markovich  [25:34]

I mean, I think it’s a great time, there’s still so much opportunity. I mean, beyond that, I counsel startups all the time on kind of whether or not their concepts are venture bankable, whether or not it’s something that you know, how, you know, have they done enough market research? Are they waiting into a segment, you know, the tent of legal tech is now big enough that that’s kind of begun coming, segmented. So the sick, the contract, lifecycle management space is super crowded, very difficult to differentiate yourself. At this point, there’s a lot of noise and a lot of investor money going into that, too. So you can wade into that, if you’ve got a really good idea, you just got to be really clear on what’s different, right? Then there are other just completely underserved areas of legal practice that, you know, that quite often come from a lawyer who’s who’s like, there’s got to be a better way to do this. And there isn’t, and so I, I’m gonna go out and found it. And then I recommend really vetting it very carefully among some of the folks that you think would be your prospective customers, because that’s the way that you, you know, that’s the way that you determine whether or not something is actually going to be viable. And a lot of firms are building these kinds of things internally for for their own, you know, bespoke purposes.


Steve Fretzin  [26:46]

Got it. Got it. Yeah. It’s from my perspective, you know, I think it’s so incredibly important for people to think about, you know, solving problems in the legal space. But then, when they when you’re having a problem that isn’t getting resolved. And I’ve talked to a number of legal tech founders that do this, where they, they have a problem, they realize other lawyers have the same problem. And then they decide to go into legal tech to solve it for themselves and for others, and that ends up being sort of a winning situation if they can get the right backing or developer or team around them. Right


Maya Markovich  [27:21]

now. Definitely. I mean, I mean, they’re, it’s a complex process, but at the same time, you know, if you’ve got if you’ve got great leadership, and you’ve got, you know, experience in the problem you’re trying to solve, that’s, you’re already two steps ahead.


Steve Fretzin  [27:38]

Yeah. Yeah. Well, listen, I just wrapping up a little bit. If people want to get in touch with you to run a concept by you, or for advice, or or, you know, just just in general, what’s the best way for them to reach out?


Maya Markovich  [27:52]

Sure. Yeah. I mean, I’m always available via LinkedIn, and on Twitter at Markiewicz. Maya is my handle. Yeah. And I love talking to folks who find something I say, you know, interesting, or they want to contradict me, that’s,


Steve Fretzin  [28:06]

I disagree with that statement. Okay. So listen, we’re wrapping up with Maya Markiewicz, who is a legal tech expert, and just sharing her wisdom with us. Thank you so much for being on the show and for guidance. And I know after I click stop on the record, you and I are going to have a chat about some legal tech thoughts that I have and operation I’m trying to put together. So just appreciate you so much and coming on the show and just being being such a terrific guest for me and my audience.


Maya Markovich  [28:34]

It was it was so great. I thank you so much. I really enjoyed it.


Steve Fretzin  [28:37]

And hey, everybody, thank you for spending some time with with Mike and myself today. Again, the goal whether it’s legal tech, or just efficiencies around marketing, business development, anything that’s going to make you a better, more efficient lawyer to continue to grow and develop your law practice to be that lawyer, someone who’s confident organized in a skilled Rainmaker, the safe be well, we’ll talk again soon take care.


Narrator  [29:03]

Thanks for listening to be that lawyer. Life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Visit Steve’s website For additional information, and to stay up to date on the latest legal business development and marketing trends. For more information and important links about today’s episode, check out today’s show notes