Episode Notes

Zack talks with Canadian Lawyer, entrepreneur, and Labster Sukhi Alberga about her journey innovating in the legal services space. They discuss the path she took to building her legal tech product and her experience in the Law Society of Ontario’s regulatory sandbox.  

Links from the episode: 

Sign up for LabCon 2024!  

Register for the Emerging Leaders Summit

Check out PIMCon and use “PIM Lawyerist” for $200 off! 

Check out Counsel from Sukhi 

If today's podcast resonates with you and you haven't read The Small Firm Roadmap Revisited yet, get the first chapter right now for free! Looking for help beyond the book? Check out our coaching community to see if it's right for you.

  • 8:57. Check out PIMCon
  • 14:55. Building Counsel Your Docs: Learning Coding and Creating Customized Documents
  • 34:55. The Importance of Sandboxes

Transcript

Announcer: 

Welcome to The Lawyerist Podcast, a series of discussions with entrepreneurs and innovators about building a successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly changing legal market. Lawyerist supports attorneys, building client-centered, and future-oriented small law firms through community, content, and coaching both online and through the Lawyerist Lab. And now from the team that brought you The Small Firm Roadmap and your podcast hosts 

 

 

Zack Glaser (00:35): 

Hey y’all. I’m Zack. 

  

Stephanie Everett (00:36): 

And I’m Stephanie Everett. And this is episode 513 of the Lawyerist Podcast, part of the Legal Talk Network. Today, Zack’s talking with one of our Labster Sukhi Alberga about her product counsel, your docs and her work with the Law Society of Ontario and their sandbox projects. 

  

Zack Glaser (00:55): 

Today’s podcast is brought to you by PIM Con, and you’ll hear my conversation with them shortly. 

  

Stephanie Everett (01:01): 

Zack, we have some exciting events coming up in our world that we should make sure everybody knows about because their chance to join us is running out. 

  

Zack Glaser (01:09): 

Okay, well, so I know about, because that’s our annual conference that we put on with our Labster and some special guests. What else do we have? 

  

Stephanie Everett (01:20): 

So actually just the week before, so we should probably tell people the dates for lab cons because registering now, and so it’s not too late to come. It is an event for our lab community, but like you said, if you’re on the fence about joining us, you want to learn more, have a conversation with us because we do have a couple of limited spots for special guests to come kind of check it out. I mean, I’m going to be honest, most people then say, yeah, what was I waiting for? I’m going to join the community, but it is a fun time. And so that event is happening just outside Chicago, start Sunday, September 22nd, and wraps up late in the evening the 24th. So most people fly home Wednesday on the 25th. Okay, so that’s the lab event. I know we talk about that all the time on the show, and it’s always as one of our favorite things to do. 

  

Zack Glaser (02:09): 

And I mean, it’s our favorite thing because one of our favorite things, it’s kind of the gem of some of the things that we do, but it’s an unconference. I know we, and people might use that a little too much, but an unconference being something where people really get to work on their firm while we’re there. I know I wind up having a bunch of breakout sessions with Labster and people and really diving into people’s specific issues because we have a lot of confidentiality there as well. But I really enjoy going to Lab Con and helping at lab com because I see people really make some big adjustments and changes and big strides there. 

  

Stephanie Everett (02:51): 

Yeah, I agree. And I’m excited to tell people about this new event that we’re doing for the first time. It’s actually going to be the week before Lab Con, so September 19th and 20th. It’s a Thursday, Friday. Funny enough, at the same location, we’re going to maximize our time in this retreat center. Well, 

  

Zack Glaser (03:09): 

It’s a good location too. We held our recent retreat there and it was a good place to do it. 

  

Stephanie Everett (03:15): 

Yeah, it’s at the Q Center, which is just south of Chicago. You fly into Chicago, it’s like a suburb of the city. It’s a beautiful location. And the new event that we’re doing is our Emerging Leaders Summit. And so this is going to be hands-on training for new leaders to understand the skills and get to practice the skills they need to effectively manage people. So often either, I’ve kind of been thinking about this a couple of different ways. Either you take people who are really good at doing a task and then you say, well, let’s promote that person as part of that promotion. You’re going to be in charge of other people who do that task, even though doing that task may not require the same skills that managing people who do that task require. So that’s sort of scenario number one. It also occurred to me, I was thinking about this kind of, I don’t know, deep thoughts by Stephanie Everett today as lawyers, our roles of professional responsibility require that we are responsible for everybody else’s work on our team. If we do legal products, our legal work product, we can have paralegals and legal assistance and interns and all of these people work on that. By the end of the day, we are ultimately responsible for that product that goes out. And so I’ve been thinking about by necessity, that also elevates lawyers to managers of people, 

  

Zack Glaser (04:42): 

Whether they like it or not, whether they’re good at it or not, whether they know what they’re doing or not. Absolutely. 

  

Stephanie Everett (04:47): 

And so we wanted to create a space. As I was talking to law firm leaders in the past year, this topic kept coming up over and over again and they’re like our people, they don’t know how to manage their time or delegate, and we know the art of delegating. It is an art, and you have to understand, you have to delegate differently based on the person you’re delegating to. And I could delegate to you, but depending on your level of knowledge with a specific task or project, I may have to delegate one way in one instance and a different way for other projects. So it may not be that I just have to delegate different to Zack than I do to Jennifer, but even more nuanced based on the type of things we’re delegating to you, and these are things people don’t think about. They just typically say, gosh, I suck at delegating. 

  

(05:35): 

It’s like, well, yeah, because it is a skill and then you’re not done because then you have to be able to give feedback. And we know this is another area people struggle with. Well, guess what? We’re going to role play. We’re going to give you the framework for how do you give feedback, and then we’re going to practice it so that people can come back from this and feel really confident. But I mean, it doesn’t stop there. We’re also going to talk about how do you run and how do you coach your team members? I mean, what does it mean to be a leader and a manager of people and really define that. We’re also going to give people tools on how to run an effective meeting because how often do meetings just suck? So as you can see, I’m pretty fired up about this because it’s all the things that people need that nobody teaches us. 

  

Zack Glaser (06:19): 

No, they do not. But okay, so yes, emerging leaders who should come to this? Should I as a law firm owner send people there? Should I go go to this? 

  

Stephanie Everett (06:30): 

I mean, you get to decide for yourself, your own. So if you’re listening to this thinking, gosh, maybe I could use all those skills, then please check it out. I think it’s a great opportunity, by the way, if you have some people that are up and coming or starting that you want to nurture, what a great way to go to someone and say, Hey, I want to invest in you and I want to send you to this conference. That’s good. Chalk it up as a benefit, right? You got to make sure that your people not like, Hey, here’s another boring CLE that you have to go to. It’s like, no, I see something special in you, Zack. So I’m picking you special to go to this conference and be part of this community. So I’m pretty excited about that. And it’s going to be for lawyers, but also there’s going to be non-lawyers there. So we anticipate that there’s going to be administrators firm, folks on the administrative side. This may pull from smaller firms, but to be fair, our partner company, affinity Consulting Group is marketing it. And so it may also pull from some midsize firms, but the skillsets the same. This is one of those conferences where it doesn’t matter what size your firm is, how you delegate isn’t going to change whether you’re in a larger firm or smaller firm. 

  

Zack Glaser (07:47): 

Absolutely. But before we move on to my conversation with Suki, when is this again, just so we can remind people? 

  

Stephanie Everett (07:55): 

Yes, it is September 19th and 20th. So we’ll start on a Thursday. We wrap up Friday. We’ll make sure to put the link for the registration in the show notes. We anticipate this will sell out. It’s a very limited, we’re starting small so we don’t have a lot of space. So this is at all peak in your interest. Go ahead and get registered now, even if you don’t know who you’re going to send, claim that spot. But the long URL is resources dot affinity consulting.com/emerging leaders summit dash 2024. Just go to the show notes. It’ll be easier. It’ll be easier. 

  

Zack Glaser (08:35): 

It’s much easier. Yeah. Alright, well now here is my conversation with our sponsored guest and then we’ll head into my conversation with Suki. Hey y’all, it’s Zack, the legal tech advisor here at Lawyerist. Today I have the president of PIM Con, Ashley Owens with me. Ashley, thanks for being with me. 

  

Ashley Owens (08:57): 

Thanks so much for having me, Zack. 

  

Zack Glaser (08:59): 

So Ashley, that begs the question, I know it’s a conference. I got it from the con part. What is PIM Con? 

  

Ashley Owens (09:06): 

PIM Con is the Personal Injury Mastermind Conference. This is being held in September 15th, the 17th in Scottsdale, Arizona at the five star Luxury Hotel called the Phoenician. We’re putting this conference on to mainly talk to personal injury attorneys. It’s a business and marketing conference, and we are definitely setting the standard to be very different than the typical personal injury conferences out there. 

  

Zack Glaser (09:32): 

Okay. Well, so yeah, how are we being different than the personal injury conferences? There are a few of ’em out there. 

  

Ashley Owens (09:38): 

Yeah, I went to about 23 last year. So the way the personal injury Mastermind conference came to be is that the company called rankings.io. It’s a company that has about a hundred employees, and what they do is they do websites and SEO for personal injury attorneys. The company is run by Chris Dryer who runs the Personal Injury Mastermind podcast, and he talks to these high-end professional personal injury attorneys. And from there we decide to create a brand around it. So the PI podcast, personal Injury Mastermind podcast, the listeners around upwards of 20,000 listeners a month, we decided to build a community out of that. And within that community we created the Personal Injury Mastermind conference or PIM Con. And the reason why we decided to do that is one, because conferences in the personal injury space, there’s a lot of copy and paste, but also because we are an authority in the space. 

  

(10:28): 

But I have the fortunate ability to go to about 23 conferences last year to represent rankings at these conferences. And I’m not from the background of attorneys or from the legal field. So I was able to kind of see and pick apart and applaud a lot of the ins and outs of these conferences. And what we’ve been able to do is cherry pick the things that we liked and then be able to negate the things that we don’t like to create a really powerful conference and build that kind of community space. So within that, what we end up doing is we’ve created a conference that is about three days, so September 15th to 17th in Scottsdale. And with that being said, I have a stupid production budget, which means we’ve hired a fantastic production team, an AV team that is going to light people’s socks on fire. 

  

(11:18): 

Literally, I’m currently talking to a fire marshal next week to see if we can put some flames on that stage. But I’ve got a 40 foot LED wall, I’ve got two Im mags on either end. I’ve got walkup videos for our speakers, we’ve got an mc, we’ve got dj. And so we’re really trying to create the entertainment factor without having speakers on that stage who are selling you something. So the biggest claim to fame with this conference is we’re really, really making sure that our speakers, one, aren’t selling you things on stage two, know what the hell they’re doing, because half the time it’s not always the case. And three, they are providing value. What was problem? How did you fix it, and what are the resources around it? So that is the technical aspect of it, and frankly, it’s a conference that I’d want to go to. 

  

Zack Glaser (12:02): 

I mean, that’s what you want to do, you want to put on the conference that you want to go to. So speaking of providing value, who’s going to headline this thing then? 

  

Ashley Owens (12:09): 

Dan Morgan from Morgan and Morgan, which is the top PI firm in the country. 

  

Zack Glaser (12:13): 

Yeah, so you’ve got Dan Morgan on the first day. How about second day keynote 

  

Ashley Owens (12:18): 

The second day? We have a special greatest of all time guest coming. I can’t spill the beans just yet, but we’re very excited and he is the greatest of all time in the thing that he does, and he’s a celebrity. So we’d love for you guys to come hang out and meet with a goat. 

  

Zack Glaser (12:34): 

Okay. I’m sure Dan Morgan is going to get a lot done with him talking. I’ve always looked at the Morgan and Morgan advertising at the very least, and they, I mean, they put on a clinic a lot of times with Oh, for sure, with advertising. So that’s certainly somebody that you would given the opportunity want to pick the brain of in that advertising space 

  

Ashley Owens (12:54): 

For sure. And then we also have David Spade as our comedian as well. So we’re working with really good numbers here as far as the kind of, and setting the standard for how these conferences, I believe should be run. You’re supposed to be entertained, you’re supposed to be relaxed as well. You’re not supposed to be overwhelmed by so many choices. So we’re limiting the amount of booths to 30 booths and limiting the amount of activities. And by limiting, I mean we’ve got dueling pianos, we’ve got goat yoga, I’ve got dinners, I’ve got the conferences going from Good to the Goat, good to the greatest of all time, which we have trademarked. So of course I have goat yoga. And so the goal is to make it so that way our teams and the attorneys come and use it as a team building couple of days. So it’s at the finish and it’s a beautiful resort. And so the goal is to bring your entire teams with us. We’d love to have you there, and everything is pretty much taken care of. 

  

Zack Glaser (13:47): 

Okay. Well, so I’m sure we could talk forever on the details and whatnot, but I imagine you have that written down somewhere as well. Where can people find more information about this? 

  

Ashley Owens (13:57): 

Pim con.org, PIM as in mary con CO n.org. 

  

Zack Glaser (14:03): 

Okay. And for our podcast listeners, I hear they can use PIM Lawyerist, P-I-M-L-A-W-Y-E-R-I-S-T, all caps for $200 off? 

  

Ashley Owens (14:17): 

That’s correct. 

  

Zack Glaser (14:18): 

Awesome. And we’ll put that information, the pim con.org and the PIM Lawyerist in the show notes for anybody that wants to hear. Ashley, thanks for being with me. I really appreciate it. 

  

Ashley Owens (14:27): 

Thanks for having me. Thanks so much. 

  

Sukhi Alberga (14:33): 

Hi, I’m Suki Dylan Berga, and I’m here at the Lawyerist Podcast to discussing my new platform called Counsel Your Docs. I’m a business lawyer and just decided that I wanted to do something different that would help the public and our legal profession and to help innovate. And I was crazy enough to do this, and Zack and I are going to discuss all this. 

  

Zack Glaser (14:55): 

Suki, thank you for being with me. I have had the pleasure of being able to be on a little bit from the outside, looking in of your journey of creating Counsel your docs, and kind of getting into alternative business models and playing in the sandbox for the Law Society of Ontario, I believe. So really appreciate you being here discussing your project and what got you there. 

  

Sukhi Alberga (15:20): 

Well, thank you so much for having me and giving me the opportunity to speak about it. 

  

Zack Glaser (15:24): 

Yeah. Well, so I guess first and foremost is let’s talk really quickly about what Council Your Docs is and what it does. I think it’s kind of clear from the name, but at the same time I think it has a lot more depth than one would initially assume. So what is it the Council Your Docs does? 

  

Sukhi Alberga (15:44): 

Well, council Your Docs is the third approved participant in the law society Access to Innovation Sandbox. What Council Your Docs does is essentially helps users to not only understand and get educated on how to draft a shareholder agreement, but it actually helps you to do one as shareholder agreements can be complicated especially, and the importance of them because they can affect succession planning, your taxation, and your everyday decision making. So it is a critical document, and I wanted to make sure, especially with the public, that they could really understand what they’re doing and to do it in an affordable way because I work with a lot of startups and businesses, and so I wanted to make sure that there was an increase in access to something like this in a platform like this. 

  

Zack Glaser (16:39): 

So this is a way for the public or other attorneys or anybody really that comes across this to create shareholder agreements on their own through this platform with knowledge, being able to make thoughtful decisions. 

  

Sukhi Alberga (16:58): 

The program is designed, so we’ve got two sets of streams. One is for the public where a business owner can go in there and draft a shareholder agreement depending on what their needs are and how it sort of navigates them and helps them through it. That way they’re understanding the terms. The second stream is for junior lawyers and to work with their senior lawyers to not only sort of understand what they need to do for their client, but have that critical thinking component that comes over time when you have experience in actually drafting these shareholder agreements. So it kind of helped facilitates that for half of the time. Right. And it also allows senior and junior lawyers to collaborate. So it’s a real educational tool that helps, and at the end of the day, help clients get quality contracts, 

  

Zack Glaser (17:56): 

Right, because they can do this without, you’re not jumping into this process, you’re not going in and reviewing every answer that somebody has to the questions that you’ve asked. I guess give me a description or give the listeners a description of a little bit of what the process of maybe using this product would be. Because I think in my mind, I very quickly go to a document automation platform that asks you questions and you answer the questions and based on the answers of those questions, you go down a particular path and you wind up with a document, a shiny new document that nobody’s ever seen before because it is very, very specific to that user, 

  

Sukhi Alberga (18:39): 

Zack. So really how the platform works, especially if there was a business person that was going to start the shareholder agreement, is essentially they would go into the system, it would guide them, they ask questions and they would answer them. But the thing is, it’s all guided alongside where I also have something cool to guide them as well. I want disclose that you’d have to go in to counsel your doc and figure out what that cool thing is, and really just guide the user through it and educating them at the same time. And if a user is going through, let’s say for example, if you decided that your shareholders are going to have provide insurance life insurance for each other, and you have that in the document, then you would kind of say, yes, you’d like to do a clause as such. So then the system can also take you through that process and help you understand what you need to know, and even the tax implications and who you need to speak to and what you need to discuss with your accountant, all that kind of stuff. 

  

(19:40): 

It’s there, it helps them. And so if a user is like, no, I don’t need that, it won’t even lead them there, it will take the next step. So it kind of knows what to do. And it’s interesting because I did have a client recently that came to me and said, I did my articles of incorporation, and I was reading it and I was like, okay, but you’s only one director, but there’s a lot of these kind closets here that pertain to something else. And I asked him and I said, well, how did you do your articles? I used business. And I was like, you did what? And I was like, oh. And I said, oh, that explains a lot. And I said, did you understand what you were choosing and how you were answering the questions? No, not really. And oh, do I have to now start from scratch? And I was like, no, no, no. We will fix this. I will help you with that. So it’s kind of that gap that conci your docs fills out there with other different platforms, and that’s what makes us different from everybody else. 

  

Zack Glaser (20:45): 

Well, and that’s also why, and correct me if I’m wrong, you kind of need to go through the sandbox. The specific sandbox for you is the Law Society of Ontario’s, because there is kind of inarguably an element of giving legal advice inside of this product. And that’s the intent is to be able to do that. Not to say, okay, well, we’re getting up to the edge of giving legal advice. We’re just going to say contact a lawyer. I think that’s what people generally do when they’re trying to put a public document out like that, and that’s not what you did. 

  

Sukhi Alberga (21:19): 

Well, yeah, essentially what happened is it’s like, okay, so the platform that’s for lawyers and law firms, that’s national and it’s nationwide, north America, we can do that. But when it came to the public, we had to go through, well, I had a choice of going through the sandbox and I chose to go through the sandbox purposely. And the reason being is, is that I wanted to do something collaborative with the law societies for the public, and at the same time also have a level of, because there’s a vetting process, and I’ll explain a little bit more what my journey was when we get there, but it was important to go through the sandbox and with the Law Society of Ontario, what happens with them is that they’re essentially saying that we’re allowing you to do this platform for the public in the understanding that it is a legal service that does not provide legal advice as a lawyer would, and it doesn’t create a lawyer client relationship. 

  

(22:23): 

Part of the reason why I had to also, it took a longer process in being in the sandbox, particularly for me, was I was a lawyer that came to them. They hadn’t anticipated a lawyer coming into the sandbox. They thought legal tech companies would come, and here was a lawyer that created something who ended up learning coding because you have to learn coding. It was really great, and we’ll get into that too. And here I am, and they’re kind of like, well, wait a second, we weren’t prepared for someone like you. So then there was a lot of things that we had to consider when it came to the rules and conduct and professional liability, responsibility, tech competency, all those kinds of things, lawyer, client, relationship rules, all those things were starting to trigger, and we had to work it through and work with them and to figure it out. And then I found myself in the journey. I thought it was just going to be another service that the law firm was going to provide. But then it came to the point where it’s like, oh no, this has got to be its thing on its own. And I found myself in the startup world, 

  

Zack Glaser (23:26): 

And you’ve been advising startups, which I kind of think is interesting. Seeing yourself on the opposite side of that table, 

  

Sukhi Alberga (23:34): 

Which makes it cool. Now I can relate to the clients, I love it that I’m doing this thing and I can feel what the entrepreneurial journey is like, right? Because a real rollercoaster ride. So to be able to relate to clients and understand what they go through. Yeah, it’s pretty cool. 

  

Zack Glaser (23:53): 

Well, let’s talk about some of that journey in your experience actually building this product, because this isn’t something that just kind of, you said, okay, well, I’ve got all the pieces together and I’m just going to present this. And you also didn’t go to somebody else to actually put this together. So walk me through a little bit of your experience in building the actual product itself. 

  

Sukhi Alberga (24:16): 

Absolutely. And I have to give you a shout out because you were alongside for the journey of the Rye with me. So essentially, for our listeners who are listening, I’m involved with the Canadian Bar Association. I’m on their legal future subcommittee, the Atlantic Roundtable that I started in the Maritime. So I was very much involved talking to a lot of experts, professors in technology at the faculty of law, the different law schools and other legal tech experts, and talking about AI and innovation and modernization of the justice system. And as we were talking and the things that were happening in the states and what was happening in Canada, it was like that sense of, oh my goodness, the public is getting a different perception of lawyers and what we do. The message seemed to have been, Hey, all they do is push templates and paper and charge a lot of money, which is not true. 

  

(25:10): 

My clients know, I sit them down and I say to them, do you understand this clause? Do you know what this means? Do you know that you can get into this scenario? So let’s look into this and that. And they’re sitting there going, oh, okay. Because they realize I’m not just saying, here is your agreement, read it over, and then if you have any questions, come back to me. Because that’s what clients tend to do. If you don’t guide them and help ’em and explain, and they understand what’s in there and the legal implications of their actions, they’re going to find themselves in dilemmas. So my clients really appreciated that I did that. So it was a lot of feedback there. And then it was just the frustration, what can I do? And my personality, I am a person. And so it was like, okay, what can I do? 

  

(25:57): 

So I remember calling you up and saying, Hey, Zack, I got an idea, but I need to know where to build this. Where do I go? And you were like, oh, there’s Python, there’s different softwares, blah, blah, blah. And I think at that point, you were just kind of entertaining me, to be honest. You could correct me if I’m wrong. And it was like, okay, I ended up stumbling on Gavel, the software that I ended up using. But then when I got there, I realized, wait a second, for me to build what I want to do and how I want to do it, I got to manipulate the system to do this. And that’s when it was like, okay, I got to learning coding, and then I found myself learning and coding. And I remember even one day, it was like 72 hours I was up, remember, I’ve got twins, I got a lot practice. You know me, right? No, what the heck? What’s going on here? What is the issue here? And it was like a slash missing, right? 72 hours trying to figure out what the hell in life will this thing work? 

  

(26:53): 

And then I remember sending it, calling you up and saying, Hey, can you take a look at this? And then you got back to me and you were like, do you know what you did? And I was like, oh, no, shit. I screwed this up. Sorry, what did I do? And you go to me, you did computational contracts, and I remember thinking to you, what’s that? And you’re like, oh, lemme tell you what. And then you said to me, you got to get yourself in a sandbox. And I like, oh, there’s one in BC and I think they’re starting one in Ontario. And that’s when the journey started. So it was kind of like a cool thing. And then I was like, okay, I got to learn about computational contracts. I got to learn about all of this. But I have to say ignorance can be bliss because when I applied to the Allah Society of Access to Innovation Sandbox, I didn’t know they had a council member that were going to approve my application assisting of 13 experts across Canada, this thing, seriously, they’ve got technology, data, privacy experts, different lawyers from different business corporate backgrounds. 

  

(27:57): 

It’s the whole list. And I didn’t know, and I think ignorance was, had I known I would’ve been too intimidated, maybe I wouldn’t have applied, I don’t know. But when I found out afterwards, which was great, I got stage one approval, and that’s when they said to me, Hey, you got a scalable product here. And it was like, oh, okay, well then how do I scale this? And that’s where counsel Your Dots for law firms and Junior lawyers came about from there. So I’ve been kind of on this journey of just learning and growing and innovating, and I think at the grid of all of this is just determination and wanting to have impact and make a positive contribution to our profession, but just doing it, thinking about the consequences, if any afterwards. 

  

Zack Glaser (28:49): 

Yeah. Yeah. I will say one of the reasons that I remember coming back to you and saying, do you know what you’ve done is because the 72 hours prior to that, there wasn’t really anything built. You put your head down and just built and built and built and built, and then all of a sudden, here’s this thing. And it was really, really substantive to come out of, but you had mapped the product out, you knew what you wanted it to look like prior to that. But there’s an element I think that you were hinting at of you have to learn how the tool that you’re using lets you do certain things and then you have to adjust what you’re doing to use that tool sometimes. And so was, as you were talking about the LSO, I was thinking about the word collaboration. And so there’s an element of collaboration. 

  

(29:38): 

I remember with you and Gavel, I think it may have actually documented still at the time, but there was a level of collaboration with you and Gavel in saying, Hey, this is what I want to do. How can we make this happen? It should be able to be done. And Gavel saying yes, that’s the type of thing we want to be able to do. But then even in the LSO, there was a level of collaboration of, you say you wouldn’t have necessarily gotten into it had you known there were so many experts there, but the fact that there were so many experts there, you got amazing feedback and asked really difficult, really important questions that you may not have been asked by people that were just looking at the product. Like you said, there were a lot of really specific data protection, data security questions that came out of the LSO. 

  

Sukhi Alberga (30:28): 

Yeah. And it was also, they tested the product. We had a beta version, and now we have a market ready one, and then they wanted a quality assurance person because I wasn’t a legal tech company, I was just a lawyer. And so it was like, okay, so where do I go to get a quality assurance person? And I know you went to the Gavel CEO, shout out to Dorna who’s awesome. And that wind of what I was doing, she got excited because she’s like, wow, you’re kind of using our system to do something really different and innovative. And so she’s been my biggest cheerleader. And so she kind of guided me to someone that I could use who had expertise and experience with many other legal tech firms that had gone through sandboxes and she helped get for them. So when the LSO manager at the Sandbox, when he realized who I had on board, he was kind of impressed and she helped me cross the line. 

  

(31:24): 

And then now she really believes in Cancer Your dog. She’s part of the team. So it’s like awesome. Things just kind of unfolded the way they did. And it’s just been a really awesome journey and you and I are strong believers of the Sandbox. It was not easy to go through the sandbox. It was a long process and it was a venting process. I mean, he was 19 months. But having said that, looking back, it really helped me create a quality product and where law firms are now taking notice too and wanting to do demos with me and stuff like that. So I think it’s how you embrace it. For me it was like, okay, I’m getting pushed back on this or I might be getting this, but I know they’re a regulator and they’re protecting the public. That’s my interest. I want to do the same too. 

  

(32:13): 

So let’s collaborate on this and how do we make this thing better? How do we make it work? How do we make it better? And I think we were able to achieve that with the LSO to this point. And I think at the end of the day it was a good thing. I’ve had other incubator friends who may have said to, well, we would’ve never gone into why would you done that? I said, well, you know what? I think it also stems from your mission and your vision for what you are doing. And for me it was really like I wanted to have a positive impact in helping our profession innovate because realistically speaking, when it comes to the legal field, I don’t care if you’re in Europe or you’re in the States or you’re here here, it might be a little bit further. But having said that, we haven’t had much innovation, especially in Canada, in the legal industry, and then Covid hit and all of a sudden it’s like, wait a second, we’re forced to be at home. 

  

(33:11): 

We can’t go out. We’ve got to meet clients, we’ve got to do this. Even senior lawyers had to learn how to use Zoom. Then it was the legal companies that said, Hey, wait, there’s a gap here we can fill. Let’s get in on the game. And it’s like, okay, yeah, you can get in on the game. But what a lawyer will understand and what a law firm needs to understand is that a lot of innovation and tech AI and all that great stuff that’s happening out there, there needs to be still a level of governance. And so if you don’t do it a certain way, it’s going to land on our tables and in our courtrooms in front of judges say hello, there’s an issue, there’s hallucinations. We all know the case of the lawyer in New York, and I think there was one in Vancouver that ended up using AI research and there were hallucinated case law that were cited right in submissions. 

  

(34:04): 

And there were implications for those lawyers to have used that. So now that’s why law firms and everyone is taking things and looking at it carefully with us in our profession, we need innovation, but it has to be done at a certain speed. It cannot be at the speed of other industries out there. I mean, it’s the reality of it, right? And at c, your docs, we’re doing everything in a way that understands that. And we’re on board with governance and we want to innovate with that. And we’re encouraging the users and law firms that believe in what we’re doing to come along board with us as we innovate and do it in that context because that is really important to me. I would encourage our listeners to really think about those things because we do need innovation, and I still think sandboxes are a very positive thing. 

  

Zack Glaser (34:55): 

Absolutely. Well, you and I talked previously about this idea in innovating that is popular if move fast and break things. And so you launch a product at its new minimum viable product, then you iterate over that. That’s not the way that lawyers or products that are trying to offer legal advice or even be on the edge of offering legal advice can operate because of the obligations, whether you even call them ethical or professional obligations. But because of the obligations we have to the public, because with great power comes great responsibility, but we still can innovate. And I think you and I talking about the sandbox of you can move fast and break things within the sandbox and then say, okay, we’re not ready to take this to the public yet and have some people there that have the interests of the public in mind and the interests of the legal community in mind as well. And so I think that the sandboxes get thought about incorrectly sometimes as either something that is completely stifling or something that is just going to let people do whatever they want to do. And that doesn’t appear to be your experience. 

  

Sukhi Alberga (36:12): 

And I think I’m talking from my own personal experience and I can only speak to that, but having said that, I do know other legal tech platforms out there that may not necessarily need that because of what they’re putting out there. So if it’s more management files and kind of things like that, obviously right, privacy is always going to be an issue and protecting that. And I think also for me, it was also important that all those things in considerations were part of counsel Your dogs. You are essentially putting something out there that clients are going to be using and could land in front of a courtroom. So there is that level of responsibility. And we talked about we have client relations rules, we’ve got tech competency rules. Now the law societies when it comes to ai, how far do you go with that? That’s a discussion right now. Then law firms are dealing with, okay, we want to be innovative. How do we stay ahead of the game or part of the game? But then how do we vet things 

  

Zack Glaser (37:19): 

Just in the game 

  

Sukhi Alberga (37:20): 

Or even just in the game? So how do we vet these legal tech products and how do they fit within our own branding and what we do? So there’s a lot of mindfulness on the part, and I think, like I said earlier, innovation is important, but we have to do it in a responsible way. And the reality of it is for us in our industry, it’s going to be done at a certain speed level for that to happen. 

  

Zack Glaser (37:51): 

Well, so we’ve talked about building the product and the sandbox, and I think you kind of looked up one day and recognized that you’re an entrepreneur and B, now an innovator, somebody who is in this space that is trying to push the edges and tinker around, that’s not a place that you thought you were going to be three years ago. So talk to me a little bit about recognizing your place as an innovator. 

  

Sukhi Alberga (38:21): 

Yeah, honestly, I say this humbly, I had no clue I was going to be, if somebody had said to me three years ago, you’re going to be here, I’d be like, no, get out of here. I don’t even turn in with all those different remote whatcha talking about yet. Here I am. And I guess it just comes to the point where I think some of us out there, you can only sit at the fence for too long, do you know what I mean? And sometimes it just takes that one person or they’ll say certain individual to say, you know what? I’m going to try something. I’m just going to do it and I’m going to try. And so honestly, I just said, okay, let me try something. Let’s see what happens. And it was really because you saw something and you said, no, no, no, you got something. 

  

(39:03): 

Keep going. That I just kept going then and then just kept getting confirmation from the sandboxes and everybody else now that are able to demo and are seeing or being exposed to counselor docs, I’m getting further confirmation that yeah, you are onto something and you found a little sweet spot that you’re solving a problem that needs to be solved. And having hopefully a positive impact on the perception of what we do that’s actually going to be beneficial for both users that are in the public space and for law firms. So it’s a really humbling experience. And I think at the same time, I didn’t see myself getting into the entrepreneurial or innovative space, but having been on it, it’s because when you’re passionate about something, you got to really love it and I find myself loving it. That’s what drives me even more. And then there’s one thing to say that is being in the sandbox is one thing, and obviously some of the journey that you’re in is confidential and you’re going through and you’re not able to speak about it until they officially announce it. 

  

(40:14): 

You got to respect the process, but then once you’re out there and you’re kind of exposed to your fellow colleagues out there, it’s nerve wracking because you kind of say this out, they’re going to see what I did and I’m going to be judged here. I think you have to have a certain kind of skin to be able to do that and be like, you know what? It’s out there, see how it goes. Maybe I’m a little bit of a risk that way, I dunno, but it’s just like, you know what? Here I am. This is what I did. There you go. 

  

Zack Glaser (40:41): 

Well, let’s talk about that feedback just real quickly before we go. Let’s talk about that feedback before creating the product. The feedback that you get where you go, I am onto something here. How do you differentiate between feedback that is real thoughtful and then feedback that’s just kind of superficial, somebody being like, Hey, yeah, that’s really neat. Yeah, that would be great because they don’t have any skin in the game. And I’m sure there are a lot of our listeners out there that are thinking, I’ve got a great idea, I’ve got this really cool thing that I want to do, but I really don’t know if it’s worth putting a significant amount of my time into because I’m getting good feedback. But how did you differentiate between what was worthwhile feedback and not? 

  

Sukhi Alberga (41:27): 

Excellent question, Zack. I think it’s such an important question and excellent one, and that came with being on the journey, to be honest with you, I think initially you kind of say to yourself, if you get any kind of positive feedback, kind of go with it. I think you also have, you have to follow your gut, but then once you’re in it, when you’re kind of like, okay, I’m out there, it’s done. This is serious, this is a business now, then you kind of say to yourself, well, if the person you’re talking to is asking you more questions and they’re asking really interesting questions that kind of say, okay, well if we do this, we do that. Can you do this? And what else are you going to do? And they’re really engaged. That gives you a good indication that they’re serious about what you’ve done. 

  

(42:16): 

And any kind of feedback they’re going to give you is because they like what they see. But if somebody is sort of being polite, not asking a lot of questions and maybe taking a shorter timeframe with you might be an indication of somebody that might just trying to be nice and friendly with you and is that superficial kind of feedback. I have friends, they’re in a FinTech and they started the company 12 years ago and now they’re with banks now. It took them many years to get plan those financial five big banks. And one of the things that they said to me in the beginning and the early stages was be careful of that kind of superficial kind of feedback. Discern what is real positive, encouraging feedback versus just someone trying to be nice. And then when I looked back and revisited all my conversations, I realized, oh, okay, no, there’ve been really genuine feedback because sometimes you do think to yourself, I mean it’s natural for I think especially in those who are on the entrepreneurial journey, you kind of doubt yourself, right? Oh yeah, it is. And you kind of go on that up and down thing. But people like Steve Jobs and there’s that tenacious spirit once you believe you got something and you really believe it in your heart and logically it is something there and you get that feedback to encourage you, yes, you are from people and trust. I think one shouldn’t give up, keep pushing through, keep going, and that would be my encouraging word. 

  

Zack Glaser (43:59): 

I like that. I think that’s something that’s completely actionable for anybody that’s looking to kind of dip their toe into the, or dive headfirst into the innovative space. 

  

Sukhi Alberga (44:11): 

Absolutely, and I think the other important thing I would say too is a level of using your wisdom, there’s got to be a level of seeing what makes sense here and what’s really happening and taking a step back, I think for entrepreneurs, we can really get our heads stuck and focused and narrowed and just go, go where sometimes you have to take a step back and look back and say, okay, where am I at? Where is this? Where’s the roadmap? A roadmap is so important. I know we haven’t gotten into that yet, but roadmap is really critical and important to know where you’ve been, where you are now and where you’re going. And then those are the steps and what you have to do and how realistic it is for you to do it on levels like financially and all that other stuff, time and feasibility of it actually being executed, certain steps that you want to do. So I mean those are important key things I think listeners should consider and I would never discourage anyone from an idea because the thing is, if you don’t do it, you’ll never know. 

  

Zack Glaser (45:13): 

That’s true. That’s true. Well, talking about roadmap, kind of last question here, what is next for council your docs? Where are we going with this? We got a viable product. It’s out there into the public in the Ontario space and then across the country for attorneys and the legal field, what’s next? 

  

Sukhi Alberga (45:33): 

Exciting stuff. We’re hoping to have a couple of more products in the next three to six months that we’re going to be putting. That makes sense. That’s going to back up the shareholder agreement eventually. We are going to head into the states as well. We are now listed on the legal tech hub. Those of your listeners may know, especially law firms. And so that was great. I met with the CEOs and we were very supportive and wanted to put us as a listing on their platform. So that was exciting. Great. Also, turns out council your docs is not only for law firms and the public, but now we’re finding that accounting firms are interested in using it. Universities are faculty of law are looking into and talking to us about possibly training new young Lawyerist and possibly law societies as well. So we’re kind of in that space where we’re finding ourselves in different area target markets. 

  

(46:35): 

That makes sense. So I didn’t realize my product could be that diverse in terms of users. So that’s the other thing. When you’re on an entrepreneurial journey, you have to be prepared to pivot, you have to be prepared to anticipate the unanticipated come your way that it could be even good and then you got to kind of go with it. A good friend of mine, and I think he’s in the CFO space and all that, he once said to me with working with startups and things like that, so one thing that he found that founders probably was sort of a bit of a mistake on their part is building something and then not letting it go or holding onto a vision or thinking that it has to be a certain way and not let the other experts know where to take it to the next level and not really listening. I think for one thing for me that I would encourage listeners too, to be a sponge, be a sponge, take in the information and then you figure out what works for you and your vision for what you are building and what you’re doing. And I think it’s really important to that because you don’t want to miss out on the possibility of what can evolve from your product or your business. So I think those things are important. 

  

Zack Glaser (47:52): 

Well that’s great. I think we can kind of leave it on that. I think that’s fantastic advice. Suki, I really appreciate you coming in and talking with me about this. If anybody wants to learn a little bit more about council your docs, we’ll put the link in the show notes, but it’s C-O-U-N-S-E-L-U-R-D-O-C s.com. So it’s council uur docs.com. 

  

Sukhi Alberga (48:17): 

I came up with the name. 

  

Zack Glaser (48:19): 

Yes, and people can find you on LinkedIn and all that. And we’ll put that in the show notes as well. Suki, once again, thank you for talking with me. It has been a delight to see you on this journey, but it’s been fantastic to be able to kind of talk to you about it. We’re not at the end of it, and so I don’t even want to say midway, it’s just been a delight to talk to you about it. So thank you. 

  

Sukhi Alberga (48:38): 

Thank you so much for having me on the show and honestly, I had such a blast talking to you. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you. 

  

Zack Glaser (48:45): 

Great, great. Alright, well we’ll see you next time, Suki. Thank you. 

  

Sukhi Alberga (48:48): 

Thank you. 

  

Zack Glaser (48:51): 

The Lawyerist podcast is edited by Brittany Felix, are you ready to implement the ideas we discussed here into your practice? Wondering what to do next? Here are your first steps. First, if you haven’t read the Small Firm roadmap yet, grab the initial chapter for free at Lawyerist dot com slash book, looking for help beyond the book. Let’s chat about whether our coaching communities are right for you at the Lawyerist dot com slash community slash lab for more information. The views expressed by the participants are their own and are not endorsed by Legal Talk Network. Nothing said in this podcast is legal advice for you. 

Your Hosts

Zack Glaser

is the Legal Tech Advisor at Lawyerist, where he assists the Lawyerist community in understanding and selecting appropriate technologies for their practices. He also writes product reviews and develops legal technology content helpful to lawyers and law firms. Zack is focused on helping Modern Lawyers find and create solutions to help assist their clients more effectively.

Featured Guests

Sukhi Alberga

Share Episode

Last updated July 12th, 2024