Originally published on TechLaw Crossroads by Stephen Embry
ZERO, a provider of productivity automation solutions primarily for law firms, today announced the launch of Apollo. Apollo is a software product that automatically captures lawyers’ time spent on billable work on any desktop device. According to the ZERO press release, it seamlessly integrates it into their existing billing platform. ZERO claims, “Apollo is a Desktop-based time capture automation solution that records time spent on billable activity”.
I have written before about how ZERO transformed itself from an email management company to an automation provider. The transformation resulted from ZEROs focused commitment to listen to its customers. And as I have noted, ZERO offers practical solutions that work.
ZERO’s goal is to automate the administrative functions associated with the practice of law as much as possible. By doing so, its CEO, Alex Babin, believes Apollo will free lawyers to concentrate on billable matters. Today’s announcement is yet another step in the transformation.
The tool is designed to capture what a lawyer is doing across all devices, including desktops
The tool is designed to capture what a lawyer is doing across all devices, including desktops. After the time is captured, Apollo then drafts a time entry that can be revised by the lawyer if necessary. In short, it creates a real-time time entry. Babin describes Apollo as providing “100% passive time entry contemporaneously” with the actual task being done.
According to Babin, it’s designed to mimic the way lawyers work. It even accounts for multi-tasking. Apollo will capture multiple activities if someone is doing tasks that can be done simultaneously, like being on a call while reading emails. But if you try to edit two documents at once, for example, Apollo says no, you can only bill for one of them.
It’s also designed to understand and provide time entries consistent with a client’s billing guidelines. And Apollo will learn from the human revisions to improve future automated entries.
And consistent with ZERO’s goal of making tools that work with the least amount of change management, Apollo is designed to work with any and all legacy systems. It sits on top of billing systems, email systems, and document management systems. Just plug it in, and it goes to work.
Of course, I haven’t actually used Apollo. I have no way of knowing it will do what it says other than the credibility of people like Babin. But the concept is sound.
ZERO appears to offer practical and workable tools that eliminate actual points of friction
And I’ve always been impressed with ZERO and Babin. Zero appears to offer practical and workable tools that eliminate actual points of friction. Babin knows, for example, that many lawyers try to record their time at the end of the day. Or at the end of the week. Or even at the end of a month. The result is often uncaptured time (according to ZERO’s August 2021 Survey, lawyers waste 30% of their time on non-billable admin tasks like tracking and reporting time). Or, maybe worse, entries that aren’t accurate. With Apollo, there is an accurate, real-time record.
The best interface is no interface
Babin also understands the need for systems for lawyers that just work (to paraphrase an old Apple slogan) with minimum disruption. As Babin put it, lawyers don’t deal with change management very well: “the best interface is no interface.”
I also like ZERO’s business model. Says Babin, ZERO’s goal is to “automate the business of law, not the practice itself.” This model gets ZERO away from the consternation lawyers have with products that might reduce the time spent to do a billable task. It’s just the opposite: ZERO focuses on eliminating non-billable time. Babin wants ZERO to gradually automate more and more of the non-billable functions. He hopes ZERO will someday be able to offer a complete suite of products that automate all administrative tasks. A tall order.
But Babin’s response to naysayers that say something is not possible? “Impossible can be done. It just takes more time and energy.” The way ZERO is going, it just might achieve the impossible.
ZERO plans to roll out the product in Q1 of 2022.
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