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It’s National Apprenticeship Week! Meet Theo, Barbal’s Digital Marketing Apprentice

A headshot of Theo standing in front of a brick wall
This week is #NationalApprenticeshipWeek and to celebrate we are speaking to our very own digital marketing apprentice Theo Tay-Lodge. Theo started as Barbal’s first full-time employee in January 2020 in a business administration role, in December 2020 he joined Working Knowledge’s digital marketing apprenticeship scheme and became Barbal’s Marketing Assistant. We are going to find out about his story.

What made you decide to take up the apprenticeship?

I joined Barbal about 6 months after I had finished my psychology degree, and although I the subject I didn’t know how I wanted to apply it in a career. I started at Barbal in an admin role; I enjoyed the role and getting to know the business, but I felt that I could contribute more. So I spoke to my line manager Tom (Barbal co-founder and CEO), and we discussed my options. Tom suggested the opportunity to join Working Knowledge’s digital marketing course and I jumped at the chance. I think one of the main misconceptions about an apprenticeship is that they are only for those who have just finished school or who are not academic, or they are wrongly seen as not being as valuable as a degree. I have found the skills I have learnt throughout the apprenticeship to be just as important as the skills I picked up during my degree.

How has the apprenticeship impacted your work?

Although I’m only three months in, the apprenticeship has already had a massive positive impact on my work. The work I do now, not only allows me to personally develop my skill set but it also adds creativity to the company. It has given me the opportunity to reap the benefits of career progression whilst providing a real-time impact on Barbal’s business, by bridging the marketing skill gap needed by the business. During the COVID pandemic when many have gone through a period of uncertainty, Working Knowledge’s digital marketing apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to retrain and boost my career.

I have been lucky enough to have great support from both the team at Barbal and Working Knowledge. This support has given me greater self-confidence and responsibility in my role at Barbal allowing for a reciprocal benefit from the skills that I am learning. As Barbal is a young start-up there was a natural skill-gap in marketing for the company. The marketing apprenticeship is providing me with applied knowledge, and I like to think that the organisation is learning about digital marketing in-parallel with me. Learning digital marketing parallel with Barbal as a business has given me a strong sense of responsibility and purpose with the business.

What is the most valuable thing you have learnt from your apprenticeship?

For me, the most valuable skills or skills I have picked up during this course are gaining an understanding of the customer buyer’s journey, understanding the value and learning how to provide the answers to customers’ needs at every stage, and learning how to guide customers toward making a buying decision. Understanding the process of customers thinking and tailoring their experience through the information we provide them is an invaluable skill to have in a business. Gaining this knowledge and skills from the apprenticeship not only providing Barbal with a new approach to marketing but also is giving me a sense of accomplishment. Applying this learning to the business has been really fluid as the team at Barbal have been ever willing to learn with me.

Anything else to add?

I would add that joining this apprenticeship has given me a new constructive outlook on my personal career progression and future at Barbal. I’m looking forward to enhancing my learning in digital marketing and applying this knowledge in the organisation. I would encourage anyone to consider an apprenticeship, it’s a fantastic way to gain transferable skills to gain more confidence in a working environment, especially if you’re thinking of career change like I was. #buildthefuture

Making barbal.co GDPR compliant with Hubspot and Google Analytics tracking codes

As a company we always try to do things “the right way”. One of the perennial challenges is how to square digital marketing with the privacy of our stakeholders. We need to use the latest tools to support sales and marketing and we also want to act ethically. As a platform that handles sensitive or confidential information for our users, we always take security and privacy seriously.

The barbal.co website uses a WordPress installation. We use various plugins for different elements like forms. We use Hubspot and Google Analytics to support digital marketing. Both platforms offer WordPress plugins to more tightly couple the services. We use them to make sure our website is relevant to visitors and know that we are following up on leads appropriately. However, neither platform’s plugin has a facility to seek permission from users before it starts tracking them with cookies. Nor does either platform’s documentation provide much help for those seeking GDPR compliance.

Google Tag Manager was suggested as a way to keep track of all tracking codes in one place, but again requires a heavily convoluted way to implement cookie permissions requiring developers and custom code.

In the end we struck upon the GA Germanized plugin, which has a no-code interface for installing a cookie banner and linking to Google Analytics. It also has a feature for implementing other tracking codes, so we put the Hubspot code in there. I also had to uninstall the Hubspot plugin and disable Google Site Kit from placing the Google Analytics code.

Now the Barbal website doesn’t use any cookies until the user gives permission, and even then we make sure we only use the bare minimum to meet their and our needs. You can find out more about privacy and security at Barbal in our Privacy Policy.

What’s happening in LegalTech to improve client engagement

If you’re looking to find out what’s happening in LegalTech to improve client engagement, we’ve gathered our 2020 views to share with you. And in our next article, we’ll look at what we can expect in 2021. First, it’s important to point out why LegalTech has developed at the pace it has up until 2020. The adoption of legal technology is now accelerating, but historically has been slow. Law is an ancient practice, with processes and traditions that have evolved over several hundred years in the UK. It’s natural to expect lawyers to seek progress, whilst also holding back from testing every new thing, to ensure they protect relationships and reputations with clients. However, client engagement is THE reason to do more innovation: LegalTech helps partners, solicitors and barristers improve how they work with clients. It speeds up their processes and makes negotiations run more smoothly. With the ‘Magic Circle’ of five top law firms based here in the UK, and plenty of investment available for new technologies, it’s no surprise London is seen as a hub for new law technology developments. So, why has LegalTech been such a hot topic?

Use-cases: why LegalTech is in demand

Like in most knowledge- or service-based industries, legal professionals face a number of challenges in their working practices where technology can help. We see three immediate issues:

Contract drafting takes time because complex data is required to underpin the contract, yet many of the terms and paragraphs have been developed already. Much of this work feels like administration yet requires a level of legal knowledge. Automating the administration, digitally dictating changes and using intelligent search enables a firm to ‘learn’ together and focus on the finer negotiations to reach consensus and close the deal.

New law firm recruits have to be highly skilled, but they still have to gain more experience through ‘grunt work’ to hit the deadlines, which can affect their enthusiasm for the job. Working for an innovative firm who is adopting LegalTech means less manual processing work and fewer all-nighters.

Client relationships are key, but the internal processes of legal advisers remain opaque – causing some clients to question why fees are so high. Technology enables better client engagement, greater transparency and faster processes, meaning firms can retain good relationships at a satisfactory profit level.

Where LegalTech is making a difference

Different technologies make up LegalTech, all of which are capable of transforming legal practice. This comes with a challenge for the technology decision makers, because a lot of LegalTech startups are small innovators, looking to break into the sector by improving one part of the process and they’re not yet working globally. That’s why some legal firms have set up their own incubators, to be first in the race to improve client engagement overall. The technologies which have made a difference so far are:

Automation and workflow

Legal firms are using contract lifecycle management and case management systems for internal collaboration, record keeping and practice management. This helps automate their work and prepare documents using forms, standard templates or common precedents. Automation in the contract lifecycle helps gain control over productivity whilst counteracting human error.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)

AI has the potential to read, withdraw and categorise the information from huge numbers of contract documents, in turn, helping legal firms manage data more effectively. LegalTech, Kira Systems has established that companies lose an average of 5-12% of contract value due to lapses in the administration of contract obligations. Their study showed that firms adopting their AI tool can complete tasks 40% faster when users adopt it for the first time and up to 90% faster for more experienced users.

Data visualisation

Case history is significant to investigations, disputes and complex negotiations, however, lawyers need time and support to find the relevant information. Data visualisation helps the legal counsel gather and analyse all the facts from multiple sources and data sets. Firms like Tableau and Qlik are leading the market with their capabilities, although Microsoft offers Power BI in the same space.

Voice recognition software

Lawyers have relied on digital dictation for many years, however, with the advent of voice recognition software, they’ve benefited from much cheaper and faster transcription services. The technology is still developing, because some legal terms are misunderstood and have to be corrected by a paralegal or secretary – adding to the administrative processes.

Online collaboration and secure video-conferencing

With cloud-based infrastructure services, legal firms have begun to rely on online collaboration – either through their case management software or tools such as document sharing portals and extranets for collaborating with clients and the other side. However, many firms still rely on creating word documents before uploading them into a contract lifecycle management system or case management software. Barbal offers an alternative – a fully cloud-based platform for drafting and reviewing technical documentation, with built-in version control. (See more about our product here).

The world of LegalTech is changing rapidly to meet the demands of the industry. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, lawyers have had to significantly adapt to working remotely, including holding trials online – leading to an increase in demand for secure video conferencing in every office.

In our next article, we take a look at the gaps in the LegalTech market and what to expect in 2021.

Theo Tay-Lodge is Barbal’s Marketing Assistant.