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Headshots of the BBLT Showcase judges

Bristol and Bath LegalTech Showcase: The judges

The first-ever Bristol and Bath “Meet the LegalTechs” showcase is set to take place on Wednesday 5th May 2021 from 8:30 – 9:30 am.

Eight legaltech providers from the South West will showcase their innovative technologies in a 90-second elevator pitch. To add an extra dimension to the proceedings, winners in three categories (Define categories) will be crowned by a judging panel that brings together a wealth of expertise in innovation and legaltech.

Get your ticket to attend at Eventbrite.

The judging panel comprises representatives from locally-headquartered national firms TLT and VWV as well as the nationally renowned legaltech incubator, Barclays Eagle Lab. Find out more about them and their work below.

Meet The Judges

Antonia James

Director of Client Relations, VWV

Antonia is Director of Client Relations at award-winning law firm VWV where she provides strategic guidance and leadership in BD and marketing. She is also passionate about the creation of legal products and services that transform reach through the use of technology. This led to the launch of VWV Plus, for which she is the founding Director.

VWV

VWV Plus LogoAlready firmly established with the tech start-up and scale-up ecosystem in the South West, VWV is taking big strides in its development of digital solutions: not only is the firm launching new products and services via VWV Plus, it is collaborating with tech businesses and supporting industry research and growth.

Shara Gibbons

LawTech Manager, Barclays Eagle Lab

Shara Gibbons works within Barclays Eagle Labs LawTech Team and is focused on changing the way legal services are provided and accessed. Shara has experience in both strategy and startup business development. For the past 4 years, Shara has been supporting startup businesses scale, and since 2018 has been focused on LawTech and supporting the much-required change for the legal sector. Delivering several talks on the need and demand for change within Legal and is an advocate for technology-enabled evolution.

Barclays Eagle Lab

Barclays Eagle Labs logoBarclays Eagle Lab bridges the gap between emerging LawTech innovation and major law firms to help to transform the legal industry. Working with partners like the Law Society and Legal Geek, Barclays Eagle Lab brings the legal industry closer to tech entrepreneurs so that they can collaborate and find solutions that will drive efficiencies and progression for the whole industry.

Siân Ashton

Client Service Transformation Partner, TLT LLP

Siân’s focus is on client service and transforming the way TLT delivers its services. Siân has a particular interest in innovation and LegalTech and is part of TLT’s FutureLaw team, leading the firm in the way TLT delivers legal services and products to ensure that clients receive the most efficient and cost-effective solutions.

TLT

TLT Changing the future of lawTLT FutureLaw is an aligned, integrated and indispensable approach to meeting the changing needs of our clients. Delivering new products and services built on insight, process and technology to achieve better outcomes for clients, partnering with best in class legaltech providers to solve clients’ needs such as TLT LegalSifter and Clarilis.

About the LegalTech Showcase

We hope that the event will increase visibility, create a collaborative space and facilitate a sense of community, whilst simultaneously giving the South West legaltech organisations a chance to pitch their business to potential customers or partners. The event is open to anyone who would like to join to watch and we encourage you to share the event on your socials and with anyone with an interest in the South West legal sector. Best of luck to all the startups who will be pitching their businesses. We look forward to seeing you at the event.

Tickets are available now on Eventbrite.

For more information, on the format of the event please follow this link or please contact Tom Bartley, Barbal CEO.

Meet the LegalTechs: A showcase of Bristol and Bath LegalTech providers

Barbal is delighted to announce the first ever Bristol and Bath “Meet the LegalTechs” showcase.

Following the successful launch of the Bristol and Bath Legal Tech Report (BBLTR) in March, we thought that this is the perfect time to bring the LegalTech community in the South West even closer together.

The report identified that the West of England is undergoing an emerging movement of legal innovation. Key findings include:

  • The growing cluster of LegalTech companies in the region is significant in size compared to other regional locations.
  • The region’s LegalTech sector could create powerful differentiation on a national and international level if collaboration in the legal sector was fully joined up with and modelled on the tech sector’s well-established regional collaborative ecosystem.
  • A strong sense of societal purpose is evident within the legal sector in the region and this should drive a future strand of LegalTech development.

Core to the report is the huge opportunity for the South West LegalTech sector ecosystem to grow into a centre with international impact.

Bristol and Bath LegalTech Ecosystem Infographic

The showcase will build on this momentum by uniting and giving exposure to Bristol and Bath’s Legaltech companies. The audience will include members of large law firms, regional law firms, alternative legal service providers and in-house counsel from across the region.

“With the LegalTech space moving so quickly, it’s difficult for buyers to keep pace and understand what’s going on in the market. The 15 providers identified in the BBLT report aren’t competing in terms of their tech, but they are competing for the eyes and ears of potential customers. This is a great opportunity for legal service providers to meet us in one hit and create more collaboration within the Bristol and Bath legal innovation ecosystem.” Tom Bartley, CEO, Barbal

The format

The showcase will take place from 8:30 – 9:30am on Wednesday 5th May 2021 and is supported BBLT.

Ten LegalTech providers from the South West will have the opportunity to pitch and showcase their innovative technologies in a 90-second elevator pitch. To add an extra dimension to the proceedings, winners in three categories will be crowned by representatives from locally-headquartered national firms VWV and TLT.

Pitching companies include Barbal, Iken, Klyant, OpenTenancy, Panache Software, PracticeEvolve, Sensecheck and Shout4.

We hope that the event will increase visibility, create a collaborative space and facilitate a sense of community, whilst simultaneously giving the providers the chance to pitch their business to potential customers or partners. And the competition element is just a bit of fun to raise the stakes. The prize? Bragging rights.

The showcase is a must-attend event for anyone interested in the development of the legaltech ecosystem in the South West.

The event, which will be hosted on Zoom, will provide a virtual stage for the 90-second live-streamed pitches by each company. The competition will be judged by representatives of TLT, VWV and another TBA. The event has been created for the South West legal sector but is free to anyone who would like to join to watch the elevator pitches with speed networking at the end.

Tickets are available now on Eventbrite.

For more information, please contact Tom Bartley, Barbal CEO or Karl Loudon, Barbal Head of Legaltech.

British African Business Alliance and Barbal announce innovation partnership to streamline negotiations in Africa

The British African Business Alliance (BABA), the network helping Africa-facing businesses to set up and thrive on the continent, is excited to announce an innovation partnership with British technology startup, Barbal.

British African Business Alliance Logo

BABA’s members deliver projects running to hundreds of millions of pounds each year across Africa, often with complicated multi-party contracting arrangements. A key challenge for businesses investing or delivering projects in Africa is the timeliness in getting contracts signed, meaning that opportunities often fall through whilst legal fees escalate.

Barbal’s collaborative document editor allows different organisations to work together efficiently on drafting contracts without sacrificing the control or privacy of collaborators. Barbal’s innovative software will allow BABA’s members to reach agreement faster, streamlining negotiations so that projects can get started quicker and with lower legal fees.

Through the innovation partnership, BABA will encourage its members to pilot Barbal’s software on upcoming projects, Barbal in-turn will monitor the benefits and adjust the software to further streamline negotiations.

Barbal offers a collaborative document editor that, unlike the prevalent tools, allows people to draft in private or in teams and merge changes with a shared master copy only when edits have been reviewed and are ready. It reduced the risk that someone accidentally discloses private information and removes the admin that can stall deals.

“This innovation partnership with Barbal will help us to deliver even more value to our members. Businesses entering Africa rely on good relationships with other organisations, including investors, delivery partners and regulators. Barbal will help strengthen relationships and get more projects initiated by streamlining one of the most painful aspects of getting started; the paperwork!”

Andrew Jason, Managing Director, British African Business Alliance

“We are delighted to be partnering with BABA and its members. Africa is among the world’s fastest growing economies with huge development projects across infrastructure, housing, industry and health. Africa is also one of the most innovative regions, leapfrogging to a digital-first economy. So it makes sense that people working on the continent want to streamline contract negotiations and are open to new approaches to collaboration, whilst balancing commercial risk and opportunity. I look forward to reporting on the many successes Barbal will help facilitate.”

Tom Bartley, CEO, Barbal

For more information about how you can maximise efficiency and close deals faster, please book a demo or email us.

Note to Editors:

The British African Business Alliance provides space for networks to stimulate alliances and links between members, partners and contacts so that we can accelerate the development of members’ projects in Africa. BABA has regional networks across the UK. www.britishafrican.org

Barbal is a technology startup based in Bristol, UK. Founded in 2018, Barbal’s software is used by lawyers, regulators and knowledge bodies across a wide range of sectors to help experts to work together on important documents, negotiate and reach agreement faster. www.barbal.co

Barbal leads the way on new University of Bristol student entrepreneurship programme

Barbal has supported the University of Bristol to deliver the first project involving the Intrapreneurial Knowledge Exchange Enterprise Pathway (IKEEP). 

IKEEP is a new initiative to boost industry by enabling skilled students to take up industry placements and foster growth and development. Launched in February, the Bristol IKEEP Programme is designed for students to engage with industry on knowledge exchange projects as business advisors, developing business model solutions and market awareness whilst enhancing student’s skills as intrapreneurs/change-makers and future employees.

IKEEP Programme Logo

Caroline Graham, UoB’s lead on the IKEEP project explained, “These knowledge exchange opportunities enable regional businesses to develop and grow, while honing the talent of future graduates.  As a new initiative, we are working closely with trusted partners who have previously offered quality experiences to our students and we are thrilled Barbal could take part. We are really impressed with what Barbal and the IKEEP students were able to achieve in just 4-weeks.”

Three students from the University of Bristol; Jaime Castiblanques, Magdalena Jezierska and Marianna Goryainova completed a four-week project to outline a business case for Barbal. Their task involved industry, competitor and market analysis. The team also devised an Operations, sales and marketing plan.

Key Findings

The project members prepared a report which identified universities as a prominent addressable market for Barbal’s software. The team outlined Russell Group universities as the ideal customer for Barbal. The reason for this being that Russell Group Universities focus heavily on research, therefore there is a significantly high demand for document editing software. The report findings describe the largest departments utilising document editing tools are STEM, Law and IT. Upon collecting data for their research through interviews and surveys, they found that 90.2% of respondents said they would be willing to use Barbal’s product. When participants were asked about the main advantage of the product, the respondents were impressed with the “ability to draft in private” and “merging files/text with ease”.

Marianna Goryainova

Marianna Goryainova

Jaime Castiblanques

Jaime Castiblanques

Magdalena Jezierska

Magdalena Jezierska

Theo, Barbal’s marketing assistant, spoke to the IKEEP project members after they had presented their business plan to Barbal.

What were your thoughts going into the IKEEP project? 

Jaime: I was excited and nervous. On the one hand, I really wanted to be challenged and to learn more about management. On the other, I was concerned I did not have the required knowledge to see the project through to completion.

Magdalena: Pure excitement and curiosity. I study Chemistry and have nothing to do with business, marketing, or computer science but I have always found the unknown things the most fascinating.

How was your experience during the project?

Marianna: The experience was great! I really enjoyed working in a team and applying the knowledge from my course. It was great to conduct market research. Hopefully, it would help Barbal to attract new customers!

Jaime: From the beginning, I felt that the three of us were very engaged, and Marianna and Magdalena proved to be ideal teammates. However, there were times where we felt lost or overwhelmed by the lack of information that we had to work around. Thankfully, Tom was always around the corner to help us.

Magdalena: Very positive! I was able to learn about some parts of the mysterious world of business and its various nuances while working with incredibly ambitious and creative individuals, who made the project an intellectually stimulating adventure. The most rewarding part was, without a doubt, being able to see the completed jigsaw puzzle, which in our case had the form of the business plan.

Were there any benefits/limitations of working with a small start-up company?

Jaime: I would say that the biggest advantage was being able to talk to Tom directly, who was the best person to tell us about the company and the product. It also meant that we felt that our job was important and had meaning. However, since Barbal is in an initial phase, it also meant that there were times that there was as much uncertainty on Barbal’s side as there was on ours.

Magdalena: Undeniably, working with a well-established company comes with a richer network of contacts, which can be very handy for some parts of business plan preparation. On a positive note, because our project was carried out within a very short time frame, being able to access so straightforwardly the people behind the company, such as the CEO, was invaluable. It definitely had a very positive impact on the final business plan developed by my team.

Anything else to add?

Marianna: I just wanted to say thank you for the opportunity and wish all the best for Barbal in the future!

Jaime: It was a great experience and I am very grateful for it. All three of us learned a lot and felt supported all the way through.

Our view

Tom Bartley, Barbal’s CEO, said “We were blown away by what Marianna, Jaime and Magdalena achieved in the time they were given and with such a fuzzy brief.  We have benefited from a number of internship programmes offered by the University of Bristol (as well as other universities) and our membership of the setSquared Bristol accelerator has put us at the front of the queue for top student interns. We wish all the students good luck in completing their studies, they’re all set for stellar careers in their chosen paths.”

Finally, Barbal would like to say a big thank you to Jaime, Marianna, Magdalena, Caroline Graham and the whole team at IKEEP. This project has resulted in a new market opportunity that has been outlined for Barbal to pursue in the future. Their business plan has defined the higher education industry as one of the largest markets that utilise software as a service. Not only has their research outlined a new market prospect for Barbal, their operations, sales and marketing plans have given us a headstart to pursue this market in the future.

Barbal named in ground-breaking LegalTech Report

Barbal has been named as one of fifteen LegalTech companies making a splash in the Bristol and Bath region in a new report by Whitecap Consulting. 

Bristol and Bath LegalTech Ecosystem Infographic

The report makes five findings for LegalTech in the region which identifies the West of England as an emerging cluster of legal innovation. The report identifies a significant level of LegalTech activity across an established legal sector, including more than 750 tech and innovation roles within a growing cluster of over 30 LegalTechs, tech companies working in the legal sector, and LegalTech arms operating within the region’s law firms.

The five findings are: 

  1.  High levels of LegalTech activity and service innovation across law firms of all sizes reflect the region’s underlying strengths in technology and law – including the presence of 17 Top 200 firm head office functions. 
  2. Bristol and Bath has built an extensive LegalTech talent pool, with more than 750 legal technology and innovation roles identified by our research.
  3. The growing cluster of LegalTech companies in the region is significant in size compared to other regional locations (as is the case in FinTech).
  4. The region’s LegalTech sector could create powerful differentiation on a national and international level if embryonic collaboration in the legal sector was fully joined up with and modelled on the tech sector’s well-established regional collaborative ecosystem.
  5. A strong sense of societal purpose is evident within the legal sector in the region and this should drive a future strand of LegalTech development.

Bristol & Bath is an established legal centre where the sector has a significant and long-standing presence. 26 of the top 100 firms in the UK have an office in the region, 13 of which have a head office here, making it stand out against other regions outside London.  The primary application of technology within the legal sector to date has been law firms using tech to serve their clients. 

There is an opportunity for tech firms to design highly efficient self service functions used directly by the buyers of legal services, which could make access to legal solutions cheaper, faster and more accessible. The combination of a strong legal sector and the core strength in technology overlaid by the presence of an unusually high number of head office functions for a regional city explain the high number of LegalTech roles in the region. “

Richard Coates, Managing Director, Whitecap Consulting 

Bristol Law Society was essentially founded by a group of lawyers wanting to share the cost of legal text books. That spirit of collaboration continues to thrive to this day and is absolutely central to the Bristol + Bath LegalTech project. Change in technology and innovation is inevitable and we will only be stronger in working together to ensure Bristol & Bath’s place at the forefront of the legal tech market. The opportunities are extensive. Not only will lawyers be able to develop new profitable approaches, we can also assist with access to justice.

Legal tech is a key plank for the legal future and this report is a key stone for taking us to the next step. We now need to move to that next phase and to make innovation and legal tech a long term success story for the region.

Ben Holt, President of Bristol Law Society & Partner, VWV

Bristol has provided a fantastic place to incubate Barbal through our early stages. The region has an excellent startup ecosystem with globally recognised accelerators, great access to funding and a growing talent pool. It’s a better place to live and work that continues to attract people away from London, whilst in easy reach of all other major UK cities. With so many top flight law firms with HQ functions on our doorstep, we’ve had fantastic access to feedback and validation on our product and value proposition. This report will galvanise the sector, encourage even more collaboration and support the “Silicon Gorge” region to grow into a cluster with international impact.

Tom Bartley, co-founder and CEO, Barbal

To find out more about Barbal and explore how concurrent document collaboration and Knowledge as a Service can help your firm to access new revenue streams and grow profits, book a meeting with Tom.

Barbal attains government-backed cyber security accreditation

Barbal, the Bristol-based startup aiming to solve document collaboration for experts, has attained the government-backed cyber security certification, Cyber Essentials Plus. A key step in demonstrating our commitment to the security and privacy of our users’ data.

Cyber Essentials Plus certification logoFollowing a successful audit, Cyber Essentials Plus certification demonstrates that Barbal has the necessary protections to defend against a wide variety of cyber attacks. Covering, the five main Technical Security Controls:

  • Firewalls
  • Secure configuration
  • User access control
  • Malware protection
  • Patch management

The scope of our certification applies to the organisation’s entire IT infrastructure to achieve the best protection, company wide. 

Barbal’s cyber security has been independently assessed and certified by CyberTec, a Bristol-based company, to ensure our compliance. 

Barbal’s Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation follows on from the successful accreditation of Cyber Essentials in December 2020, and continues the campaign towards ISO 27001 accreditation. 

Dave Balderstone, co-founder and CTO of Barbal “Cyber risk is as important to us as it is to our customers. This is a step towards gaining IS0 27001 accreditation and shows that we’re serious about Information Security.”

CyberTec, assessor of Cyber Essential and Cyber Essentials Plus, says:Cyber attacks and data breaches are an ever-growing threat to UK organisations. Cyber Essentials is the government-backed cyber security certification designed to protect your business or organisation from common cyber threats. Achieving this certification demonstrates your alignment with the five main Technical Security Controls, proving that your business is safe and secure.”

It’s International Women’s Day! Meet Lucy, a Software Engineer at Barbal

Amy and Lucy chatting on a web call

Today is International Women’s Day, to celebrate Barbal Knowledge Partner, Amy, is speaking to our newest recruit, Lucy Blatherwick. Lucy joined the dev team just before Christmas as a Software Engineer. 

What first attracted you to Barbal?

I’d say that the main thing that initially attracted me was the nature of the company and their purpose. Coming from a software background, the idea of version control is second nature to me, so it makes so much sense to pass the value that it brings on to users who wouldn’t normally have access to this kind of document support! I was also excited by the prospect of working within a smaller company – having come from a multi-national organisation I’m definitely finding working at Barbal to suit me better.

Can you tell me more about your role?

I’m a software engineer, and I work in the dev team with the other developers at Barbal to create our software. It’s definitely a collaborative process, identifying what the next steps are, and working together to build a really useful tool.

You’re working in a role, which is typically associated as male, how have you found it?

I do have a limited range of industry experiences to draw from, but I’d say that while there have been a few moments that I have felt it to potentially be a disadvantage in the past, my overall feeling is that the industry is definitely starting to shift from being heavily male dominated to something a little more balanced. At university, it was evident from the increase in the percentage of women on the Computer Science course in comparison with previous years, that computing and technology is beginning to attract more girls, and this will hopefully begin to filter through to industry as my cohort and younger grow into their careers. Of course, the ideal situation is not to have to even consider gender as a factor while in a profession, and I think we are beginning to approach that. I’ve definitely never felt that it impacts me at Barbal!

What advice would you give other women considering a career in Software Engineering?

Definitely go for it! Whether you’re considering a computer science degree at uni, thinking about giving software a go as a career, or want to get involved with new technology, it’s definitely worth it. There’s so much more to Computer science than just programming, and it opens up a new world of opportunities with so much variety and potential! Pretty much everything in the world around us has been influenced by computing, so you can apply what you learn in computer science to almost anything, whatever you love!

What changes would you like to see in the world to make it better for women?

While a lot of change has already taken place within the industry, there is always room for improvement, and it’s important that both individuals and organisations remember to keep striving for better. As a new cohort of young women begin to enter the industry it’s crucial to support and encourage them in their endeavours within technology. The alternative is to find that the industry loses women as fast as it gains them as they take their skills elsewhere. Equally, it’s also key not to reduce support for early opportunities in technology, and to keep engaging young girls with technology and STEM subjects more broadly to make sure that this change isn’t temporary.

Anything else you’d like to add?

It’s going to be exciting to see how software engineering diversifies, and how that affects how we work and what we make! And of course thanks Barbal for welcoming me onto the team!

Comparing document collaboration types: linear, real-time and concurrent

Drafting documents with others is one of the most important but stressful parts of many professionals’ roles. At a minimum any organisation with a quality management system will have a review process, where someone else will add comments or suggestions to drafts before approval. There are many scenarios where multiple people need to contribute to the same document because they have different fields of expertise or they have different viewpoints that need to be expressed.

Historically document collaboration meant circulating hard copies or disks and receiving comments or markups which someone would need to painstakingly combine. In recent years, many people have moved their document drafting to online methods.  These methods allow for quicker interaction between collaborators, whether that is using email, document management tools, or real-time tools.

Why different types of collaboration are necessary

Important documents are often drafted by teams of people who might have competing objectives for the document. In this instance, it can be beneficial to ensure that there is a clear process for controlling who can draft edits,  create safeguards to make sure unwanted errors aren’t introduced, and manage traceability of how decisions are made. 

Drafting an important document with multiple stakeholders is a consensus-building process. It’s more than just putting the right words in the right order; it requires expectation management, negotiation skills, and good communication. 

five people working at a desk on different devices

We created Barbal because we saw that people working on important documents don’t have the tools that let them collaborate efficiently. Different document editors promote different behaviours between collaborators and we wanted to make something that allows experts to do their jobs and negotiate faster.

A key aspect here is trust. Technical trust means can you trust someone not to make a mistake which can undermine the credibility of the document, this could be competence in drafting or expertise in the field. Even administrative tasks need to be undertaken by someone competent in the field, lest a seemingly minor error causes a major problem.

Another aspect of trust is the alignment of interests between the different parties to the collaboration. 

The concept of the “master document” is how trust is handled in collaboration. Who can edit the master document? Who is responsible for making sure the document is coherent overall? Who can approve changes?

In this article, we explore three different collaboration options available:

  • Linear
  • Real-time
  • Concurrent

Linear collaboration

Description

Linear collaboration involves a single master version of a document that is passed between stakeholders, usually via email, file sharers or a more sophisticated document management solution that allows check in/checkout . This creates a game of email tennis where it’s often unclear who’s holding the ball. A collaborator makes an edit and forwards the document as a file in an email, and another collaborator either revises or accepts the changes and emails the document back or along the chain. 

Great for

  • Personal documents which won’t be shared with others
  • Letters and correspondence
  • Essays and dissertations 
  • Documents where people different people work on distinct sections that can be stored as individual files
  • When only one person will be working on a draft at one time

Pitfalls

  • It is easy for changes to the document to get lost in translation due to a lack of version control and issues with comment tagging
  • High risk of human error when making edits
  • Security risk, as everyone who is sent the document has the master version controlling who has access can be problematic
  • Communication, as there is no real-time communication method with linear collaboration, those who should be involved in a direct line of communication can often get isolated. This can lead to edits made to the document getting overlooked

For large teams co-authoring the same document, linear collaboration is the opposite of a streamlined process. Collaborators spend more time sending emails, chasing feedback and searching for the most recent version of the document than actually working on the document. This leads to quality issues, delays and team member frustration. The entire process is fraught with distractions and complications which can make it stressful, turning experts into administrators, constraining their ability to do the best job they can.

Real time collaboration

Description

Real time collaboration involves multiple users  producing work on the same single document at the same time. Co-authors can make comments, suggest edits and revise documentation in a web application or collaborative software simultaneously in real time. 

Great for

  • Small teams working on informal documents
  • When there is small number of authors drafting in a linear manner
  • When there is a high level of trust between all collaborators
  • Idea generation and rapid iteration 
  • Documents that are drafted or reviewed during a meeting or workshop

Not suitable for

  • Teams with more than five members collaborating on one document
  • Complex documents
  • Asynchronous collaboration
  • When privacy is needed
  • Working with third parties

Real-time collaboration can be great for creative teams that need to collaborate synchronously. For example, when teams are brainstorming ideas and need complete visibility of each other’s work. However, when more than five people are working on the same document the process becomes painful as there is very little control. Co-authors can easily step on each other’s toes whilst making changes to work. This becomes particularly problematic when teams are working on complex documents or working with clients. With real-time collaboration, privacy and control are sacrificed, leading to a disorganised workflow. 

Concurrent collaboration (Barbal’s Solution)

Description

Concurrent collaboration involves co-authors working on their own copies of  the same document, where the editor automatically merges and disseminates updates between the collaborators. Unlike real time collaboration, co-authors have full control over their workflow; granting collaborators the ability to focus on their own work, draft in private and share their edits when they are ready. Everyone has access to the content relevant to them. Contributions are systematically reviewed before they are merged into the master document. 

Great for

  • Collaboration between distributed authoring and editing teams
  • Engagement with stakeholders throughout development
  • Maintaining a full audit trail of dialogue, decisions and justifications
  • Collaborating with clients or other parties
  • Progress monitoring and reporting
  • Accurate version control
  • Shared ownership of work
  • Instant communication between stakeholders

Not suitable for

  • Synchronous collaboration
  • Intense creative collaboration

Concurrent collaboration allows for decentralised(?)control over different sections of a document. Allowing stakeholders to concentrate on specific sections of a document without interfering directly with the master document. When authors are working on complex documents asynchronously, other co-authors having instant visibility can add unnecessary pressure. Concurrent collaboration supports individual team members working efficiently with each other without explicitly exposing their thought processes. 

Conclusion

Although both linear collaboration and real-time collaboration certainly have their respective advantages, when teams of over 5 members work on the same project their pitfalls can not be ignored, when compared to concurrent collaboration. When teams collaborate in real time the workflow can become abrupt and chaotic. When teams use linear collaboration the process becomes stagnant and unnecessarily time-consuming.

Barbal was created to bridge the gap between linear and real time collaboration by adopting a concurrent methodology. Incorporating a catalogue of all contract drafts, version control and comment flagging directly into the user interface. The software eliminates any security or privacy risks keeping a full audit trail of contributions and changes by all parties in one place without the need for any exterior tools. Barbal frees teams from needless admin and waste, ensuring business-critical documents get signed-off faster.

How intent affects collaboration

Collaboration is becoming ever more important in business especially as we overcome the challenges of the past twelve months. But have you ever stopped to consider what it actually means to collaborate?

Since founding Barbal I find myself mulling this more and more. Why is collaboration so important? How does collaboration interface with related concepts like consensus or negotiation? How do we ensure that we build a document editor that is truly collaborative, rather than just allowing people to work together more efficiently?

When I used to run collaboration training in a professional services firm I would ask the attendees to give a definition. It would invariably be something along the lines of “working together to achieve a shared goal”.

They always identified both parts; implying that working together isn’t collaborative unless it’s toward a shared objective.

Including the “shared goal” aspect is critical, it differentiates collaboration from simply resolving resource capacity issues by putting more bums on seats. By collaborating the participants are working towards something they could not have accomplished on their own if they had more time, or without recognising there is a higher order objective than just doing their own job. It distinguishes collaboration from quality assurance processes or procedural pass off of work between people with different skills.

Having reflected on my own work in standardisation, engineering and business ownership and observing how others have sought to use Barbal’s collaborative document editor, I have distilled collaboration down to three different attitudes. I call them intents. They cause the behaviours people display at different times during a collaboration.

The three intents of collaboration are:

  • Creative
  • Consensus
  • Adversarial

These are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but they do result in very different outcomes for participants and their stakeholders.

Creative collaboration

Two people working together at a whiteboard

The old adage goes “two heads are better than one”. That’s because it’s often true. There are many types of work where working closely with someone else with similar or completely different views will turn up something that’s better than either could achieve by working in isolation. Creative collaboration isn’t limited to traditional “creative” industries, but can be applied in any discipline where problems need solving.

The purpose of creative collaboration is to seek synergy.

Consensus collaboration

Two professionals at a desk smiling and high-fiving

Often we have to work with others who have different core objectives, that might be a business that has to make money for its shareholders, or a delivery organisation that provides outcomes for its stakeholders. Consensus is a useful mechanism, it allows different parties to agree a bounded set of shared goals where there’s recognition that helping another party to achieve their goals has a multiplier effect on achieving one’s own goals too.

The purpose of consensus collaboration is seeking the highest order of agreement.

Adversarial collaboration

Shaking hands

Also in life, we have to work with others because we have to; usually because they have something we want. And more often than not it involves money and risk exchange. Sometimes it’s because we’ve been told to by a client or important stakeholder.

In this case the shared objective is simply to get the job done (and as quickly as possible). This collaboration is self-serving, but recognises the need for input or negotiation with others.

The purpose of adversarial collaboration seeking the lowest order of agreement.

In identifying the three intents of collaboration, I hope it helps you to recognise your own behaviours and perhaps is a quick reference framework to check the intent behind your work with others.

Where creative collaboration is laser-focused on a single shared goal, consensus collaboration allows space for each participant to bring their personal objectives to the table too. And whilst I would always advocate for consensus over adversarial collaboration, it can be useful to be aware in particular the distinction between these two intents and recognise the behaviours in the other people involved. Sometimes adversarial collaboration is necessary and collaborating at all is better than aggression.

Tom Bartley is co-founder of Barbal, a collaborative document editor that allows professionals to draft and review documents without the chaos.

This blog complements an upcoming blog in which we discuss the modes of collaboration; linear, real-time and concurrent It was originally published on Medium.

How lawyers can save time and money with Barbal

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, The Law Society indicates that law firms are forecasting a 10 – 20% drop in revenue for the 2020/2021 financial year. The commercial practice area has been hit hardest by the pandemic only behind the property sector, with Chambers Student reporting that the start of 2020 saw the slowest rate of deal-making in seven years. These forecasted falls in revenue heighten the need for commercial practitioners to track down and eliminate the processes where they are leaking time and money.

So how can we make sure that solicitors keep their unbillable hours as low as possible to boost your firm’s bottom-line?

A pile of coins with a clock in the background

A survey by Clio outlines that administrative tasks can take up to 48% of a commercial solicitor’s time, time spent manually keeping track of contract changes and issues that still need to be addressed, escalating into version control chaos. Our own research found that 20% of a commercial lawyer’s time is lost to activities that could be spent on billable work. A whopping 65% of legal professionals identify time lost on administrative tasks as their biggest pain point. As well as the usual office administration, this also includes keeping track of comments, revisions of contracts, and chasing clients for clarity when flagging issues. The pertinent issue many commercial law firms are facing is their solicitors are simply not practising enough law.

Today, we take a look at how Barbal addresses these pain points to help you save time and money.

Document collaboration without the chaos 

To address needless time-consuming tasks that are losing law firms revenue, Barbal is a cloud-based software solution providing collaborative document drafting without the chaos. Barbal’s platform provides a single knowledge hub for drafting, commenting, and revision tracking which can help contract negotiations come to a swift conclusion. This eliminates disparate versions of negotiations flying around between Microsoft Word and email. Barbal keeps all contributions and comments in one place to avoid duplicating documents, moving between systems, manually transferring and losing the connection between elements. Providing a tracked catalogue of drafts streamlines the contract lifecycle, speeds up litigation and erases the need for administrative tasks. Allowing solicitors to focus on new enquiries and billable work.

Full audit trail for contract negotiation

Barbal provides a full audit trail, version control, and records, saving time for future discovery or litigation. Once your partners receive a contract, they can easily redline, add comments, or approve changes. Through alerts, you can track any action and get notified once your recipient opens a document, rather than having to consistently chase parties down. Instantly share how comments have been addressed and allow them to compare changes between versions, so nothing slips through the gaps.

These features also eliminate the tug of war between parties chasing each other to review comments and drafts, resulting in a faster negotiation process. Reducing the security or contractual risks by keeping a full audit trail of contributions and changes by all parties in one place means there is no need for any exterior tools to support the process. Barbal’s software results in a streamlined process, creating firm-wide consistency during contract negotiation. 

Concurrent negotiation 

Barbal provides a simple way to compartmentalise negotiations into different sections for review. This streamlines co-authored documents allowing negotiations to progress fluidly, as opposed to a constant battle between parties chasing actions. Involved parties can manage, share and compare document versions simply and control permissions on each version, whilst maintaining a single source of truth.  You save more time by helping people focus quickly on what they need to do, boosting solicitors’ productivity and prioritising billable tasks. 

Solicitors that use word processors such as Microsoft Word broadly use the same process, copy and paste, make alterations then email, to produce an updated contract. There is a high risk of human error using this process. This process creates unnecessary long negotiation cycles, poor visibility, and inferior process control and compliance. Which in turn wastes both time and money. Barbal provides the reliability, security, and transparency that other document collaboration platforms simply can not maintain. With Barbal, solicitors can manage the negotiation with ease to get the best terms for all parties, without unnecessary waste or delay. 

To sum up, Barbal provides a secure platform for contract collaboration and negotiation, whilst bridging the gap between current collaborative processes such as Microsoft Word and email. Barbal ditches the administrative tasks that take up so much of their time, paving the way for solicitors to do more law.

If you would like to learn more about how Barbal can save you time and money, watch our product video here or contact us for a demo.