Sharing Is Caring, Says Firm That Made Its Tech Open-Source

Travers Smith joined a growing list of law firms creating legal tech tools, but unlike their counterparts, it’s providing the coding to use and edit its email management tool for free.

Usually when law firms develop legal technology, either it’s to make a profit or it’s free to further the firm’s branding as a legal expert in the platform’s practice area. But Travers Smith bucked that trend when it announced last week that it was releasing its email management system MatMail as open-source software.

The U.K. firm said it decided to open-source MatMail to encourage more law firms to efficiently manage their high volume of daily emails.

“Although the idea is quite unique, it’s something all law firms should have,” wrote Shawn Curran, head of legal technology at Travers Smith, in an email. “We certainly don’t see ourselves competing with other law firms on email management, so it made sense to share it. We hope that many other law firms openly share projects that don’t provide a competitive advantage.”

Many law firms creating legal tech, from Reed Smith’s GravityStack subsidiary to Parsons Behle & Latimer’s compliance and legal tech app development solutions, share at least one goal: Make a profit from the technology. For those law firms that provide their legal tech for free, they want to provide information vetted by their lawyers to solidify the firm’s brand as an expert on a topic, as Wiley Rein noted when describing its recent gift giving app.

Instead, Travers Smith said it was motivated to make MatMail’s email filing abilities free and easy to edit because email management is a task all lawyers or their staff are tasked with.

“MatMail was inspired by the desire to give busy people time back and will therefore always be free,” Curran said.

Travers Smith launched MatMail internally after the firm’s in-house engineers starting developing MatMail in April, Curran explained. MatMail scans a lawyer’s email and compares them to emails filed in the firm’s document management system. When there’s a match, the tool automatically creates a client/matter folder in the lawyer’s email mailbox. After the folder is created, matching emails are instantly filed in the appropriate folder.

Curran described MatMail as solving a task that shouldn’t require a lawyer’s time and might be challenging for administrative staff to do correctly and/or efficiently.

“The [personal assistants]/secretaries didn’t have enough of an understanding to do the bulk of their lawyers’ email filing and some more senior lawyers get too many emails and struggled to keep up. It filled a much needed gap,” he said.

Additionally, as law firms look to incentivize associates to join their firms with various perks, MatMail demonstrates the importance Travers Smith places on work-life balance, Curran said.

“Travers Smith also likes to offer our associates a work-life balance and what better way to demonstrate that to the market than share a piece of technology that can reduce stress and give busy people valuable time back,” he noted.

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