Throughout his career in “big law” and fintech, guest Abdi Shayesteh struggled with the legal profession’s lack of formal training. “It was sink or swim” with every new challenge, he says. There had to be another way to help associates become better lawyers.
Law school may not fully prepare graduates to practice law, and the old apprenticeship model – learning on the job – has fallen apart as new lawyers are expected to produce billable hours from the start, and clients expect to pay for results, not teaching new lawyers.
After practicing law for years, Shayesteh founded AltaClaro, an online platform built to train law school graduates how to actually practice law by applying practical skills training in a structured, online environment. Attorneys deserve better, and so do clients.
Hear how AltaClaro’s approach combines experiential learning techniques to help attorneys build skills and confidence in a low-risk environment. Lawyers learn, do, and review at their own pace with practice documents, contracts, and clients. Then they go through each exercise with a live, experienced, vetted professional.
New attorneys get the skills they need, and firms get the fully trained associates they want.
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Intro: Managing your law practice can be challenging. Marketing, time management, attracting clients, and all the things besides the cases that you need to do that aren’t billable.
Welcome to this edition of The Un-Billable Hour, the law practice advisory podcast. This is where you’ll get the information you need from expert guests and host, Christopher Anderson, here on Legal Talk Network.
Christopher T. Anderson: Welcome to The Un-Billable Hour. I am your host, Christopher Anderson. Today’s episode is about production. What? Not marketing? We’ve had a couple of shows in a row on marketing. I know they’re very popular, but it’s not the only aspect of running our law firms as we’ll talk about in a second, and I think today’s topic is particularly exciting as we’re exploring an area that many firms struggle to do well and that is, you know, we’ve had several shows on team acquisition, on hiring, recruiting, but this on team training and it’s something we haven’t talked about a whole lot. I think it’s important that we do because, as we all remember, in the main triangle of what it is that a law firm must do, we have to acquire new clients. We talked about that a lot because without that, nothing happens, but we also have to produce the results that we promised and that’s production. That’s what we’re talking about today and, of course, we have to achieve the business professional results for the owners and we’ll have other shows about that. In the center of that triangle, of course, driving it all for better or worse is you, and we’re going to help you be a better leader with this show today.
In today’s episode, we are going to discuss research backed practical skills training solutions for lawyers and to help me talk about that because I need help talking about that is Abdi Shayesteh, and he’s the founder and CEO of AltaClaro. That’s an experiential learning platform and, if you don’t know what that is, we’re about to learn it. And today’s episode of The Un-Billable Hour is trained to success. Now, Abdi Shayesteh is, as I mentioned, the founder and CEO of AltaClaro. It’s an experiential learning platform that delivers research backed practical skills training solutions for lawyers, and the lawyers on that platform AltaClaro platform learns through a blended approach by engaging in mock transactions, simulations, live and virtual feedback, sessions with season practitioners, and mentors. Now, Abdi before founding AltaClaro, we’re going to find out why he did that, was a corporate and banking lawyer for 15 years. He worked in a variety of settings, big law, in in-house, and he co-founded a fintech company and a clothing company at 17 years old. So, Abdi has been around and he has found a passion in helping lawyers with training their team. Abdi, welcome to the show.
Abdi Shayesteh: Thank you, Christopher. It’s great to be here. Thank you for having me, excited to have this conversation with you.
Christopher T. Anderson: It’s absolutely my pleasure. So, let’s get started with the beginning, right? So, that’s quite a varied background, banking, lawyer 15 years, then big law and in-house, fintech, clothing company. What led you to found AltaClaro? What problem did you see that you were passionate enough to do the entrepreneurial thing and sync all your time, energy, money and effort into forming a business to solve this problem? What did you see?
Abdi Shayesteh: Yeah. I think, you know, having gone through entrepreneurial experiences, this is my third startup. My first one being clothing company as you mentioned that when I was 17. Throughout my life, I’m always looking at ways to solve problems, big problems and where pain points are, in particular, if it starts to cost money, right? There, you always have that. I’m sure from your experience in running a practice, those are the things that are on your mind. But yeah, like you too as well. I worked in a variety of settings. I worked in a small law firm in Silicon Valley when I started out as a boutique firm. Then, I also worked at a global law firm, King & Spalding, worked in government and also worked in-house and, in those settings, I really saw this pain point at every phase in my career. In the early days, whether it was in a boutique firm or a large law firm, I was trying to figure this stuff out —
Christopher T. Anderson: Sure.
Abdi Shayesteh: — and realizing after paying a hundred thousand dollars on my legal education that law school didn’t teach me anything for actual practice that you’re supposed to learn the stuff on the job. You know, unfortunately in our profession, the apprenticeship model is withered away.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah.
Abdi Shayesteh: Yeah, yeah. So, you get thrown in and sink or swim, and I really got — I got lucky. I got lucky that in those settings my office was just a door down from the corner office of someone who had been there for a while and that person sat me down to explain things to me and even just 20 minutes of that time enhanced my learning so much so fast that I was able to do better, and I thought, oh, wow, this is awesome. But, you know, late at night, 11:00 at night when I’m like something is due the next day and I bothered that person 10 times already, right, I had this fantasy as a young lawyer, a place where you can go just like you have a tutor in college.
Why not have a professional tutor where you can go and get feedback, and I think I was jealous of the litigators. They had mock trials and moot court competition —
Christopher T. Anderson: Right.
Abdi Shayesteh: — and I thought, why don’t we have this for every practice, in particular, deal lawyers, but every specialty should be able to practice on fake clients and get feedback? It was a fantasy of mine at the time, and I realized that my luck allowed me to succeed, and there were others who didn’t have that access. As you know, the same people get the same deals over and over again just for either unconscious bias or just by being there at the right time. And so, there are a lot of people that get left out. A few years into their job, they’re only doing the grunt work like diligence —
Christopher T. Anderson: Right.
Abdi Shayesteh: — and they’re not doing the sophisticated stuff and they’re asked to leave or they burn out and, years later when I was training young lawyers at King & Spalding, I realized also how difficult it was to do this and why you’re juggling the demands of either running, you know, deals and leading deal teams and then, you know, also trying to do business development and all of these pressures. At the same time, you got to sit down and teach people and mentor them, and it takes time away from billing and there’s an opportunity cost that’s real there. If you’re billing at whatever your rate is, this is definitely an opportunity cost and, at that time, I was billing $800.00 an hour, but it wasn’t until I went in-house where this fantasy continued to grow because that’s when I was reviewing the bills. I would look at those bills and see associates spending 10 hours on marking up my NDA which should have taken them an hour. And so, I spent a lot of time talking to law firms and writing those costs down because I wasn’t —
Christopher T. Anderson: Sure.
Abdi Shayesteh: — okay and negotiate.
Christopher T. Anderson: But that there was happening because those associates didn’t have what you’re talking about that —
Abdi Shayesteh: Exactly.
Christopher T. Anderson: — mentorship and training. Of course, the law firm business model is like, so who cares if they take 10 hours. That’s 10 billable hours.
Abdi Shayesteh: Yeah. Well, you know, times have changed and, at that time, I was Deputy General Counsel of a global bank, Bank of Tokyo MUFG and I had basically oversaw the legal analysis across the country and, at that time, right after the financial crisis, clients looked at the bills more closely. No more the days of — in fact, there was an article back then which really kind of was the impetus behind me really thinking about this that, you know, GCs to firms. Don’t train your associates on our dime.
Christopher T. Anderson: Right.
Abdi Shayesteh: Literally, that was the headline and that resonated with me. It’s like — and so, at that time, I felt it was the right time and right place to take this on and that’s what led me to start AltaClaro and that was the impetus behind it all.
Christopher T. Anderson: Cool. I mean, I think it’s a fantastic story. So honestly, I think we’ve actually made it clear but just for clarity sake, I started your introduction with that phrase experiential learning platform and you’ve kind of described what you were looking for what your dream was. But so just for listeners like, how would you define an experiential learning platform like AltaClaro?
Abdi Shayesteh: Yeah. So, it’s all about learning by doing and receiving feedback, and receiving feedback on your simulated work product is similar to — if we just were to think about it for trying to learn how to swim, right, you’re not going to learn by reading books or watching videos or attending lectures. Those are passive learning modalities. You have to get in the water, in the shallow end hopefully and apply these techniques and get feedback from a coach in real-time and you’re learning and experiencing it at the same time and the same applies here. So, what I’m about to say is going to be nothing shocking to you or other lawyers, right? When I was a senior lawyer, I would take old deal documents, change their names, create fact patterns, have associates go through the markup the documents. I would review them and give them feedback as if I was supervising their work and they appreciated that. They love they give him confidence because they weren’t just passively learning, they were interacting with it. That’s experiential.
Christopher T. Anderson: And in a low-risk environment.
Abdi Shayesteh: Exactly, low risk environment and that’s what made me think, how can I scale this because I was doing it well in New York obviously, but for going or by billable hours to do it, but my colleague in San Francisco or Dallas did have the same time or the same consistency to do it. But yeah, experiential learning is about learning by doing, you know, you said the word research backed. Education science has shown us that we remember 10% of what we learn when we learn by reading, about 30% to 50% when we learn by watching or listening. But when it comes to more interactivity like getting into a workshop, it goes to 70%. And then, it goes to 90% percent if you’re actually learning while doing the work at the same time and that’s either doing the real thing, right, with the old-school way.
Christopher T. Anderson: Right.
Abdi Shayesteh: Yeah, or doing the simulated thing which is what we’re doing at scale.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah. So, the results will be similar between real versus fact pattern, like fact-based patterns. It’s like fake work on a low-risk environment. I imagine the results are similar. If not, maybe a little better with the simulated because of the lower stress.
Abdi Shayesteh: Exactly, exactly. I mean, yeah, and it’s interesting. Other professions do it. Doctors work on cadavers first before moving on to the real thing, same approach. You’re absolutely right. The risk is lower and you get to take your time, you get to ask questions, you get to make mistakes. There’s no risk. And so, you really bolster your confidence and knowledge which is all important for our profession when we take on the real thing.
Christopher T. Anderson: That makes total sense. All right. So, what we’re going to do, we’re talking with Abdi Shayesteh and he’s the founder and CEO of AltaClaro. We’ve just learned what experiential learning platform is or at least for experiential learning is. We’re going to talk a little bit more about the platform. But first, we’re going to hear a little bit from the folks who make this show possible. And then, we’ll come back and talk a little bit more.
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Christopher T. Anderson: And we’re back with Abdi Shayesteh. He’s the CEO and the founder of AltaClaro. We’ve been talking so far about, first of all, the story of why AltaClaro was his passion and I think that Abdi felt the market needed. I mean, I think there’s already quite honestly, Abdi, a lot of takeaways for folks here in the sink or swim versus the experiential learning method and you’re right. Mentorship has become less of a method and I think also your note about the GCs to law firms stop training your associates on our dime is an important one and what legal business goes through a cycle. I’ve seen it several times in my career where everybody’s fat and happy and nobody’s really looking at bills. And then, in fact, I’ve seen times where there’s been competition among GCs to work with the highest billable rate, like actual prestige, like oh, yeah. I know we’re getting screwed harder than everybody else, but I think the secular trend is towards more scrutiny, right, and insisting on ROI, return on the money that’s spent and efficiency at the law firm level which is changing the law firm business model, and we’re going to talk a little bit about how AI is going to impact all that
But for right now, what I want to do is we’ve learned what experiential learning is. What’s an experiential learning platform? So, you mentioned how you would create the simulated environments for your associates and that they really valued that and that the learning really was three to four times better than just reading and redoing. But so, how do you take that concept and put it into a platform that is, as you said, available at 11:00 at night when I’m cranking through a brief that’s due the next day?
Abdi Shayesteh: Yeah. So, the framework of the platform is the way we run the classes. And then, I’ll share with you how we work with firms of all sizes to run these programs and really the intent by the way here is not to necessarily replace internal training or the mentorship but really to augment it. How do we get people to accelerate their learning curve so that when that mentoring or internal training happens, if it happens, it’s more efficient, right, for the firm and that’s really here. Not only are we empowering the associates to own their career trajectory, but then we’re bringing down the cost for these firms when it comes to training and their various pieces of that, as you know, which we can talk about direct and indirect costs.
But yeah, let’s dive into how the classes work and how the platform works. So currently, we have over 40 courses that cut across a variety of practice areas and we’re continuing to grow this library when we started four years ago. We only have five classes. Today, we are over 40 and these practice areas are corporate, MNA, capital markets, finance, IP tech transactions, startup law, real estate, and we’re coming out with some in litigation as well in 2024.
But every class has the same three components: Learn, do, review. At the outset of the associates’ journey, they’re going to watch an hour’s worth of pre-recorded bite-sized videos. These are self-paced and on-demand in between the segments. There are some assessments and quizzes that test their knowledge along the way. They’re really just learning the principles and concepts of things here. They can do it 10 minutes a day, 20 minutes every other day. Those assessments are interactive. You can’t just click through it. You’re learning and applying at the same time. But once you’re done with that first hour, the next thing that happens is the most important thing. That’s the doing part. That’s when inside the learning portal. You’re now going to get a mock client, the real-world scenario. That’s just obviously a fake client. Here’s your client XYZ company. They’re about to engage in this transaction. You’re the associate on the matter. Here are the issues you need to be aware of, the tasks you need to complete even the documents you need to synthesize. So, just like in the real world, it would be like a puzzle, right? There’ll be an email from a client, a term sheet, a due diligence memo, client wish list, even a contract from a prior deal. Let’s say, you got to go back and find some good provisions, come back and actually mark up your document. Got to get your hands dirty.
I remember in those early days, you just stare at the screen for 10 hours before even making your first red Line, right? This is all about that space to do it. Now, the assignment self-paced shouldn’t take them more than two hours, but they can totally take their time with it, and if they’re crunched for time a bit like in the real world, the partner is going to say this is due in two hours. Prioritize what the big tasks, mark it up and submit it in the portal for the third part, which is a pre-scheduled live review session and that’s when you come in to meet with one of our vetted practitioners to go over the assignment, ask questions, instructor asks you questions, really getting to the why’s and how’s of what we needed to do for that assignment.
And so, that’s how every class works. Couple of things to note here. When the participants submit their assignments in the portal, right away they get a model answer, fully annotated red line, markup. We want them to compare their red line with the model answer button, right? Many of those early years is about trying to understand what those red lines mean from the partner, tea leaves and insights on what you got right, what you miss. So, you want to build those reflection muscles here and then come into the live session to hone in on what you need to learn the most. The other part is we run these in cohorts of no more than 10 participants at a time. So, even when a firm is 100 associates, we’ll break it up into 10 cohorts of 10. It’s exclusive to them and the instructor will review everyone submissions. They’re going to see what people missed, what they got right, and then come into that session to give feedback based on how people did on the assignment. So, there’s these three components that are working but there’s feedback on those assessments from the instructors and that’s where the live sessions get really dynamic.
Christopher T. Anderson: And what I’m hearing here is like, you know, this is what you’re teaching really. Law firm partners, law firm owners, they could do this. They don’t need AltaClaro. They don’t need a self-built platform. But I think if we are all truly reflective, what we’ll find is that we don’t have the time, the patience and quite honestly, like I think one of the things that’s going on here is the reps, right? I’m a good swimmer. I like to go back to your analogy, right? I swim in high school, raced a little bit. I was coached well and became a very good job as a lifeguard for years, became a very good swimmer. And then, my son 10 years ago decided he wanted to start swimming competitively. I think he was 6 years old. He decided it and I could have taught him, but I hadn’t taught anybody else recently. I hadn’t gone through a whole lot of reps. I’ve never been taught how to teach. I knew and that’s kind of a law firm model, right, as I’m an experienced lawyer. I’m an experienced partner. So, I will now teach, but there’s something about the reps and the fact that, you know in all honesty, I want to mentor. I don’t have time all the time, right? So, I think that I don’t want us to come across like go like, AltaClaro or nothing, right? You could do this, but if you don’t have the time or you’re being honest with yourself, you don’t have the time and you don’t have the peps, this is a great hack. So, we call it a hack, a cheat, a way to get it done.
Abdi Shayesteh: Yeah. So, great points from variety of ways that I love to address. I mean, you’re absolutely right. One of the partners said, you know, this is all about reps. He said this in front of our — when we run these programs, we have an orientation with all the associates and partners and they’re saying this is an investment in you. Take this seriously and go all out with it and you can mix it.
You know, AltaClaro is creating that space for you guys to take your first crack at a bunch of reps that are going to come your way. But it’s all about reps, and here’s a chance to do it and break things and not worry about us looking over your shoulder with it, right? So you’re absolutely right. It’s about getting in those reps, the first reps in, and then we have other each course builds on each other, so you get more reps by the time you get through a boot camp, for example.
And yeah, when I was training inside the firms, we’re all well intended with these programs that we want to put in place, and if we do it, this is the way we would do it. So you’re absolutely right.
Christopher T. Anderson: Right, yeah.
Abdi Shayesteh: This is the way we do it. We know videos don’t work. We know putting people in front of a treatise, although some partners will say, that’s the way I did it, and it worked, right? We know that we would do it this way, but we get too busy. And so that’s when the firms work with us, they rely on us for the fundamentals of things the reps, the warranties, the operating provisions, termination clauses so that now there’s space internally if they want to do any training or mentoring at 11:00 at night, they don’t have to start from ground zero to explain what a credit agreement is or what the provision.
Christopher T. Anderson: Right. Because there’s going to be right. There’s going to be like, okay, that’s all well and good, but now what we’re going to train on, instead of training you on the basis we’re going to train you on how we do it here at Anderson and Shayesteh. We do things a little differently. This is our brand. This is how we put a twist on it. And we’re going to be able to now all know that you’ve got this common language, this platform, and now we’re going to put the icing that makes us special.
Abdi Shayesteh: Exactly. And going back to our swimming analogy here, you know, you wouldn’t ask Michael Phelps to teach you how to float on water, how to do front stroke, backstroke, right? We teach folks how to do that stuff so that you’re ready now for the Michael Phelps or in your case the Christopher Anderson to talk about the nuances or the advanced topics, which is what firms do. But now you do it at a more efficient rate because your associates are at a higher level.
You know they’ve gone through the reps with us. They understand you, they ask intelligent questions. When you give them an assignment, that’s one of the things associates tell us. We get these assignments at 4:00 in the afternoon and 10:00 at night. We’re like, “oh, I should have asked these questions. But thanks to AltaClaro, we’re able to ask those questions now ahead of time.” It makes things more efficient for us. We’re able to raise our hand to do something, give us confidence for that and spend less time, less time spinning your wheels, figuring out heads or tails, what’s expected of you. Instead of 10 hours, it’s like three hours now. So it’s not a magic pill. They’re going to be a superhero, yeah.
Christopher T. Anderson: Now, it makes sense.
Abdi Shayesteh: You mentioned one other thing, too, which I really appreciated, too, is that you may be an expert in something, but you may not necessarily be a great teacher, which we’ve all experienced, right? The expert, seasoned lawyer, great, brilliant lawyer. But then you put them in front of a room of associates to teach, and then they just kind of go on and on. And the war story here, war story there. So that’s why we’re very selective and we vet who our instructors are. First of all, they all have to have 10 years or more Am Law 100 experience. They have to be currently practicing. But beyond their CVs, we put them through a vetting process where we actually put them through a mock teaching session where we evaluate, we pretend we’re students. We evaluate who can explain things, who can meet learners, where they are, first year associates who can break it down, pedagogically, who’s dynamic and only those make it. And then once they make it, they have to have four and a half to five stars on average from the associate reviews in order to keep teaching on the platform.
Christopher T. Anderson: Excellent. Very good. That sounds great feedback. All right. So we’ve been talking we’ve now learned a lot. We’ve learned what experiential learning is. We’ve learned how the platform works. And I thought that learn, do, review training model, which again, we agree. Other firms can do this. You’re not doing it. Let’s face it, you’re listening to this going like, “Wow, I could do that”. Have you been doing it? And what I’d like to do, after we hear one more message from our sponsors, is come back and talk about how this makes life better. So I want to talk about the associates that go through this. They have improved realization rates. Is their profitability higher? Is their productivity higher? And before we go, I want to also talk about how AI might start to play into this. But first, a quick word from our sponsors.
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Christopher T. Anderson: And welcome back. We are still talking with Abdi Shayesteh, founder and CEO of AltaClaro. We’ve been talking about experiential learning and how that is built into a platform to accomplish the training that you wish you were doing this whole time. And also, what I thought was cool, what I didn’t expect to talk about, was how to empower you to use the mentoring and training time that you’ve got to do the special stuff.
You mentioned Michael Phelps to teach how to shave a 10th of a second off your hundred yard free rather than how to kick, how to do a flutter kick for those of you who don’t swim. Sorry, we’re just going with this analogy. Now, I wanted to kind of just bring it around so folks can understand because it sounds like, okay, that’s great. That’s something I should probably be doing. But what’s the effect on the business? Because, listen, we’re all business owners at the end of the day, and if we don’t have to train our people and can still get great results, great. We don’t have to invest in that. Not suggesting that just saying. And so what do we see when we use these kind of learn, do, review training models? What do we see as happening in realization and productivity and profitability?
Abdi Shayesteh: Yeah. No, absolutely. And we did a study and I’m going to share with you in the audience about the ROI study. There were things around productivity, profitability, and people. And we did it with our top clients across all segments of the NLJ 500, the Am Law 200, Am Law 100. And we exactly tackled this and really grateful for the results because it’s been really four years since we launched.
In the early days, first of all, people said there’s no way you’re going to be able to do this. No way you’re going to have clients like Orrick and Scadden and Ropes & Grain. We have those clients. And we also have boutique firms that are regionals. And last year, we had over 3000 associates go through our programs. This year, halfway through the year, we’ve already crossed the 3000 mark. Very grateful for all the clients who’ve continued to be with us and grown with us. And the results they’ve shared both on the associate side and on the firm management side. But yeah, these costs are real.
There was a recent article where in-house counsel complained that the associates at these firms over the last couple of years are not trained well and that they’re telling the firms, please train your associates better. And the firms are realizing that the last few years because of the pandemic, there’s this gap in knowledge, and so there are a lot of write-offs happening because of that.
There was a recent study that showed firms spend about $300,000 over a period of three to four years, depending the size of your firm on recruiting, training associates. And at the end of it, three or four-year mark. The top reasons why they ask the associates to leave is usually around the training, lack of sufficient, yeah, and the reasons why those folks burn out and leave because they also didn’t feel that they had enough training. That’s also the top reasons that people leave, especially women and diverse attorneys talk about that. Those are real costs for the firms. LexisNexis did a study also recently for just 20 hours of training between a senior lawyer and a junior lawyer is $20,000 or more for just 20 hours of training.
Now, when I share that with partner, they say it’s probably more when you think about the direct cost and indirect cost. So these were all things that we wanted to tackle when we started out. And now we’re across the NLJ and the Am Law 200. We have almost 70 law firms and mostly in the Am Law 200. And we went back to them on this study. How did the use of AltaClaro, and these are folks who’ve used AltaClaro for at least two years or more. How did AltaClaro impact productivity, profitability and people. On the productivity side, how much did we reduce the cost and effort of training?
So the partners and practice group leaders told us that they spent 10% less. There was 10% reduction in partner hours required per associate to review and fix errors each month. So they told us they’re seeing less errors come through because they’ve gone through the reps and now they’re identifying all the issues. Now maybe they’re still working through and where to land practically, right? But that’s okay. Now, there’s a good, better place to start, better markups. They’re spending two to three hours less in partner time on direct training per associate per month. Now this includes both direct training of presenting as well as the mentoring per associate.
They said they’re spending less because of what you said, that we’ve elevated their game of the associates. So now any training is more efficient. It’s more on mark, more surgical for them. And then for those PD managers who run training programs, we’ve identified that 90% reduction in time in preparing these programs. They told us normally we have to chase down the partners to put these programs together. Now, we don’t. Just like you said, we know AltaClaro is running. For example, when we run a boot camp, it’s one class every two weeks at a firm. So for ten weeks, you know, we’re covering drafting NDAs, drafting term sheets, drafting asset purchase agreements. And each month, if you have time, you can add on to our training, which many firms do they have their own lunch and learn. They know that month we covered APAs.
Christopher T. Anderson: Right. And that’s where they can put the icing that we talked about.
Abdi Shayesteh: Exactly. Now, you don’t have to think about it because let’s face it, our industry is very reactive. We just react to client needs. So this helps build that proactivity for them. So definitely impacting productivity. Then we wanted to calculate how much of this did it impact the bottom line. So the firms reported an improving effectiveness for associates and utilization, 1% to 2%-point increase in realization rates for first year associates. Half a percent revenue increased due to basically benchmark optimization and utilization.
So some of these firms told us, I don’t have to just rely on the associates in my office. I know that we did AltaClaro across all the offices across the firm. So now, I have a deeper bench and I can actually take on more deals. And so all of this impacted positively on their profit margin and their revenue increase, which is great to see. All of this was done by an independent third-party, by the way, Hobson & Company. It’s an independent research company that interviewed these partners and practice group leaders and PD managers. And basically, their goal was to calculate quantitatively the impact and they’ve created a calculator based on this.
But yeah, the other part was, people, how much increase in associate retention did we impact here? 2 to 4% improvement because associates are happier. They’re getting trained, they’re spending less time spinning their wheels, so there’s less stress. They have more confidence in their work. So all of these things came out of this ROI study, which really proved that if they invest in AltaClaro, they’ll definitely recoup their cost in a three-month period. But they’ll have an ROI of over 300% or 350% from it in a one-year period. So grateful to see this, but the quotes from the partners really tell it all, because, as you know, partners don’t have to flatter you. But when they tell us that, “Hey, I spent less time reviewing this stuff, there were less errors, I had less headaches”, we know we’re doing our job and making their job easier. That was our goal.
Christopher T. Anderson: From what you’ve described, this seems ripe for AI. I mean, this is exactly the kind of thing that AI can do. What do you see going forward for how AI artificial intelligence can have an impact on this training methodology? The experiential learning platform that you’ve been talking about?
Abdi Shayesteh: Yeah, the emergence of AI in our work has quadrupled our potential. Now, it’s just up to us to take advantage of it. But very grateful. We’ve already been diving in in a variety of ways. One, just internally, we’ve been using the tools in a safe and responsible way in our work and productivity in terms of creating content. We obviously have subject matter experts that review it and review our work, and we have legal editors, but they’ve integrated AI in their workflow to make things more efficient for them. So that’s just one thing. Internally, we’ve been a user of AI. Second thing is one of our largest clients, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. They’re always thinking of ways to be more efficient as a firm because they’re thinking of their client as we do as attorneys. So how can they create more efficiencies? And they’re always coming up with great ideas for us, and we always take feedback from our clients with respect to product development and things that we can serve the whole market with.
And early days, one of the things they had suggested is that their clients are all tech clients. And so they wanted a course on technology transactions, which everybody else said, “Yeah, we would want it too.” So we created this whole series on tech trans, which is great regardless of whether you’re a corporate lawyer or an IT specialist, learning all this stuff about SaaS agreements and hardware development, software development, stuff that normally clients every day have these days. So we did that.
The next thing was they came to us and they said, “Look, we’re really looking at leveraging AI tools in practice from everywhere, from associates to paralegals to partners and this is going to drive and bring more efficiency for our clients. So we’ve been experimenting with some AI tools, like Harvey, co-counsel and the others that are out there. Each of them has a training program. But we really would love a Fundamentals of Prompt Engineering for Lawyers course. In other words, a course that teaches lawyers the language of how to use these tools. Something that’s tech neutral, something that teaches the critical thinking needed for regardless of which tool you’re using, and something that’s practice neutral, whether you’re a litigator or a transactional lawyer, and whether you’re new to this whole world or you’re developing through a do-it-yourself approach.
So we came up with this course that’s now been rolled out. First we did it with their summer associates now it’s across Oryx firm, and now other firms have signed up for it, where it’s called The Fundamentals of Prompt Engineering for Lawyers. And it teaches lawyers how to use these GAI tools safely, in an efficient way, an effective way, in a responsible way in your workflow, whether it’s for non-legal tasks like simple things like organizing citations or organizing agenda or memo to actually drafting documents, legal tasks like how to draft an agreement. But you realize in that process, obviously, you still need an expert. You still need a subject matter expert in this, but it helps them create the first draft.
So anyway, this course has been big for all size clients, whether it’s boutique to Am Law 200, and we’ve been using that to leverage. But the third thing, like you said, our AI can be used, which is what we are also working on. When you go through our programs, you learn through a simulated deal, right? And you get feedback on it through these live sessions. But imagine after going through, let’s say, a course on NDA, you now have ten additional problem sets you can work on through simulations, kind of like a flight simulator. Now, instead of swimmers, we’re going to use pilots. Instead of, basically, yeah, these just like pilots use a flight simulator for different weather and different things. We’re going to have deal simulators for lawyers, which is what we have deployed now, and we’re running Betas through it where you can practice and get feedback in real time leveraging AI on the markups that you’re making or on the issues that you’re spotting. Yeah, a lot of good stuff from AI, but still just scratching the surface.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah. Well, it’s a brave new world. All right. Well, that does bring us to time. So thank you so much, Abdi. This has been a wonderful conversation.
Abdi Shayesteh: Thank you, Christopher. Appreciate it.
Christopher T. Anderson: Not at all. So, yeah, and of course, this does wrap up this edition of The Un-Billable Hour. So thank you to our listeners for listening. Our guest today one more time has been Abdi Shayesteh. He’s the founder and CEO of AltaClaro, and you can learn more about Abdi and AltaClaro. How? Abdi, if folks are intrigued by what they learned here, they want to learn more about how they can do this experiential learning themselves or how they can engage with AltaClaro, how can they learn more from you?
Abdi Shayesteh: Sure. Info at AltaClaro works really well [email protected] or Abdi. A-B-D-I at AltaClaro. They can reach me directly and happy to chat and share more. Appreciate any thoughts and comments as well.
Christopher T. Anderson: Not at all. That’s A-L-T-A-C-L-A-R-O.com, yeah?
Abdi Shayesteh: That’s correct.
Christopher T. Anderson: Perfect. All right. And of course, for me, my name is still Christopher T. Anderson. I look forward to seeing you next month with another great guest as we learn more about topics that help us build the law firm business that works for you. And remember, of course, in addition to this interview show, on the third Thursday of every month at 3:00 p.m., third Thursday at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, is the Community Table, where you can actually come on with me and usually another guest and ask any question you want to about law firm business. And of course, as far as this show and the Community Table, you can subscribe to all the editions of this podcast at legaltalknetwork.com or on iTunes. Thanks for joining us. We will speak again soon.
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