Legal Geek of the Week – James Dawson, DealScoper
Legal Geek - 23/08/2017

One of the key factors that motivated DealScoper Head of Content, James Dawson, to leave his partnership with Macfarlanes and enter the legal tech space, was a nagging question, “If not now, then when?”

Dawson answered that question one year ago this month and judging by the excitement with which he is demonstrating DealScoper’s web-based platform to Legal Geek, he’s not regretting his decision.

DealScoper is a scoping and pricing software application, which allows law firms to more accurately predict their own costs and profit margins, even through several rounds of price negotiations with a client. Yet it’s also on the side of the client; capable of acting as a portal for businesses to request transparent quotes from law firms for a specific job.

Its intuitive interface is highlighted by Dawson’s two pre-teen children being able to build quotes using the software. “They don’t know what an M&A share sale is, but they can scope one and price it.”

As Dawson mocks up an example quote for Legal Geek, it’s plain to see how user-friendly the software is. No grids, no spreadsheets, just a colourful 3D block growing and shrinking as costs are added to a helpful template, split into sub costs and task groups, and taken away again.

Although Dawson – now 45 – felt that he was somewhat racing against time to follow his instincts into legal tech, it is those years which he, and DealScoper’s founder Ray Oldfield, put in at the sharp end of a conventional law career which make DealScoper so lawyer friendly.

Dawson illustrates the level of deep thinking behind DealScoper:

“Lawyers spend 80% of their time reading words which is OK because, in general, lawyers like words. What they don’t like so much are numbers and spread sheets so we have deliberately made something which doesn’t have a spread sheet in it.

“Much of the technology which people have been trying to sell to law firms is not built for law firms. DealScoper is designed specifically for law firms.”

Dawson’s understanding of the legal industry also extends to trends in the uptake in technology, and his thoughts make either reassuring, or unnerving, reading for those in the legal tech space.

“There is a massive herd instinct in law. There are very few law firms who want to be seen to be ‘out there’ when it comes to technology. However, as soon as there is a core of firms using a particular technology, they all want to join in. The use of time recording software is an example of that. There was a lot of reluctance to begin with but then everyone started using it.”

 

Currently DealScoper is being trialled “by one very large firm” and September has been identified as the month for it to be rolled out to the wider market.

With a pricing structure that is scalable to the size of a business (the annual subscription is calculated based on the number of fee-earners in a firm) DealScoper will endear itself to law firms of all sizes.

Whether it can gather a critical mass of law firms to turn it into a megalith of legal tech is a matter for future discovery. For now, DealScoper’s channelling of grown-up thinking into a smart piece of legal tech places them as a very worthy Legal Geek of the Week.

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