4 Reasons to Buy (vs Build) Pro Bono Tech Tools

Similar to considerations with other enterprise SaaS tools, we sometimes hear from firms that they’d prefer to try building pro bono management tools internally rather than plug into an existing network. In theory, this sounds great, but more often than not, firms end up spending significantly more time and money on any pro bono internal build than the benefit received, with little wiggle room to iterate on the product as industry best practices evolve.

Regardless of whether Paladin is the right solution, here are four reasons to outsource pro bono tech tools, and how we think about them:

  1. You’ll Increase Engagement through Real-time, Centralized Access to the Pro Bono Ecosystem. Without a direct connection to outside referring organizations, any tech created internally must be updated with content manually, wasting time and distracting from higher leverage work. Unfortunately, we hear of teams who have to update internal databases by hand, with opportunities that expire or are taken by other firms quickly, with a clunky user interface (sorry, firms!), and then are disappointed when it doesn’t succeed. Because Paladin allows you to directly connect with partner legal services organizations to create a real-time, intuitive database that attorneys can search for by practice area, community, causes, and type of work, they’re able to find available, timely matters of interest with the click of a few buttons. In addition, this one-stop shop provides the pro bono team real-time insight into what’s available across offices and saves time in updating and finding casework. We’ve found that attorneys on Paladin are 50% more likely to find pro bono through our real-time searchable database than to comb through old emails, which has been one of the two ways we’ve been able to scale engagement by over 30% in the first year.
  2. You’ll Decrease Costs by Having an Industry Approved, Dedicated Pro Bono Tech Team. A firm’s IT time (and your input) costs money, and even after a basic system is stood up, it has to be maintained. Since pro bono teams typically don’t have dedicated tech folks for their platforms, tech updates are limited, and unfortunately, not quickly adaptable in real time to meet industry standards (and, urgent pro bono crises). With a known, standard monthly fee, you save your tech team valuable time, get a full product team at the ready, and receive regular, real-time product updates to keep your program at the forefront of pro bono innovation. At Paladin, this is all our team thinks about, all the time, so we’ve been on the front lines across firms and are responsive to product feedback.
  3. You’ll be able to Control the Entirety of the Pro Bono Process. In-house tools are typically built with a specific part of the pro bono process in mind, but they can’t integrate with any other ecosystem-wide tools to allow you control of the entire lifecycle. This limits a pro bono team’s ability to manage individual case intake, distribution, and management. Users on Paladin can approve and gate keep opportunities at multiple points within the workflow, add new legal services partners through their dashboard to expand the breadth of their opportunities, and manage interest all in one place — maximizing their workflow control. Bonus: it’s adaptable, so we can change the workflow at any time!
  4. You’ll Have Better, Real-Time Data and Reporting Functionalities. Most firms’ systems capture the number of pro bono hours, matters, and participating attorneys, which is great for AmLaw and awards. But we, like you, we want to know what’s HAPPENING with those hours! We go a level below to examine the practice areas, communities served, causes, types of engagements, etc across offices, practice groups, rank, and referring organizations to form a more holistic view of impact across the firm. Our case management system-agnostic API allows a firm to push pro bono-specific data to the Paladin dashboard, slice and dice it across a number of views, and produce real time charts, graphs, and other insights to make reporting easy. Pivot tables, be gone!

In sum, building internally might seem like a way to save money, but in reality, the time and tech costs to build and maintain a standalone tool are significantly more expensive than outsourcing — without the benefits of having a real-time, industry-approved, tech-forward network available at your fingertips.

Let me know if you have other build v. buy considerations at kristen@joinpaladin.com.

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