When Am Law 200 law firm Baker Donelson decided to implement the legal workflow application BigHand Now, it planned to roll it out gradually in stages, starting with its headquarters in Nashville.

Then came the coronavirus crisis.

As it became clear to the firm that the pandemic would require its attorneys and staff to work from home, its chief financial and administrative officer, Randy Staggers, decided that the faster the software could be deployed firm-wide, the more it could help minimize disruption to workflows.

The Nashville implementation went live on March 10, with the plan that it would be the first phase of a months-long roll-out across the firm’s 21 offices.

But less than a week later, Staggers reached out to Eric Wangler, president of BigHand North America, and said he wanted to deploy the platform throughout the firm as soon as possible.

“Randy reached out to me and said, ‘Am I missing something or is this exactly the solution we need for remote working,'” Wangler told me. “They wanted to roll it out immediately.”

The firm had previously prepared for and equipped its lawyers and staff to work from home, having stress-tested its networks and systems, Wangler told me, so when the lockdown came, it was quickly able to get its staff up and running remotely.

But the firm was concerned about the challenges raised by the disruption of its traditional task-delegation workflows, which led to the decision to fast-track the roll-out.

BigHand Now is a task-delegation platform for law firms. It is designed to enable attorneys to easily assign tasks to administrative support staff, including by dragging and dropping items from Microsoft Word or email into the workflow tool.

For support staff, it creates a single repository of all pending work and provides the ability to manage and prioritize assignments from within a single interface. Working from home, staff can handle their own assignments and, during down time, grab jobs for others who are backed up.

Tasks are sent to a central workflow, where they are automatically routed to the right support resource and can be tracked through to completion. It can be used for any administrative tasks, including billing support, calendar management and document creation.

Within a week of the initial March 10 rollout, BigHand and the firm began working to deploy the platform firm-wide. Within another two weeks, attorneys and support staff were using the platform throughout the firm.

“The workflow solution will provide our lawyers with the transparency they need over outstanding work, while giving our support staff a holistic view of all tasks, and the ability to complete work in an agile way, despite remote working,” Staggers said in a statement. “With the technology in place, our teams will be able to work together effectively to best serve our clients at this difficult time.”

Ricoh Consulting Services also played a role in the deployment, handling project management and change management. It also helped develop some of the training materials that the firm used to get staff quickly up to speed.

BigHand’s Wangler said the lockdown has caused other law firm customers to similarly accelerate their rollouts and has brought the company new customers.

“The challenge that was thrust on firms was very abrupt,” he said. “We think we have a technology here that legitimately helps firms manage this challenge.”

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.