Two projects showcase the firm’s innovation are the interactive National Survey of State Psychedelics Laws and the Fox Launchpad.
Psychedelics Law is an emerging practice area and business field; Few law firms are involved in this practice. Access to accurate, up-to-date information in this field is crucial for members of the legal community. The firm’s interactive National Survey of State Psychedelics Laws provides a sortable nationwide overview of the legal landscape surrounding these substances in all 50 states. After completing and compiling research on state laws, the cannabis practice group and the KM innovation team designed and built a corresponding database and interface to house this information.
Fox Launchpad is a collaborative effort between the firm’s emerging companies & venture capital group and the KM innovation team harnessing technology to create a virtual incubator & resource center as a flat-fee package of services for early-stage company clients. Our attorneys saw that entrepreneurs needed guidance in compiling the requisite financial and regulatory information needed to launch a business. The team constructed a questionnaire that gathers information and adjusts questions based on responses. Due to the extensive nature of the data collected, information is automatically saved, and users receive a link which allows them to continue their session at any time.
Catherine M. Monte, chief knowledge and innovation officer with the firm answered the questions.
Necessity is the mother of invention. What need was your firm inspired to address with your innovation?
Fox Rothschild’s National Survey of State Psychedelics Laws and Fox Launchpad projects were inspired by our attorneys’ realization that clients and other entrepreneurs needed reliable, cost effective guidance to enter their industries. Fox’s combination of attorney legal expertise and KM Innovation’s cutting-edge technology created actionable resources for our clients. Few law firms have nationwide cannabis and psychedelics practices, so companies looking to start research/development of those substances have difficulty finding information. The National Survey of State Psychedelics Laws provides accurate, up-to-date information on the legal landscape surrounding the commercialization and regulation of psychedelic substances for medical use. Similarly, starting a business can be daunting – but Fox Launchpad’s service suite provides a Virtual Incubator & Resource Center as a flat-fee package of services to easily guide new clients through the steps of building their companies through an automated intake form and auto-creation of cap tables.
Innovation within a law firm requires a strong vision and a lot of coordination internally. How was your firm able to turn a vision into a reality during such an unpredictable year?
The National Survey of State Psychedelics Laws was less impacted by the pandemic setting. The Fox Launchpad program operated pre-pandemic but has recently transitioned to a digital app which now includes automation of the intake form and cap tables. This made the program more efficient for both clients and attorneys by expediting data collection. Keeping attorneys engaged throughout the process was a challenge, however attorney engagement and ongoing feedback were vital to both programs. A combination of automated alerts, regular meetings, and a formal feedback cycle kept everyone on target and contributed to a successful outcome.
What obstacles did the firm need to overcome to execute that vision?
National Survey of State Psychedelics Laws
While creating the tool, the KM Innovation Team encountered two technical issues:
Choosing a platform with public access options while retaining functionality. In selecting the appropriate platform for this solution, there were two main requirements for a successful solution: 1) the final solution had to be publicly accessible via the firm’s website; 2) the technology used for the final solution had to be low-code/no-code in order for the KM Innovation Team to be able to build and maintain the solution. If the team could not find a tool that met both requirements, they would not have been able to deliver this product. Importance of building the app for future scaling. The data was initially going to be hard-coded into the app, which would make it difficult to move to potential future iterations. While it required more work at the outset, the KM Innovation Team decided to build the app using information templates, which can be easily transferred to other applications.
During the transition to an application, in addition to the attorney engagement challenge described above, two other challenges arose:
- Certain elements the attorneys requested to be incorporated in the tool were initially beyond the firm’s technical capabilities. Although all elements of the app initially used the same software, the KM Innovation Team ended up creating a second internal app for firm use to monitor client progress, which was not possible in the first software’s workflow. The attorney’s vision for the final product pushed the boundaries of how the KM Innovation Team had previously used the technology.
- Process for creating a quality tool. Attorney schedules needed to be able to accommodate the iterative process of product development. The individuals involved understood that this was not a one-and-done request and prioritized creating a fully functional, innovative solution over a quick turnaround.
In addition to the above, both projects required a significant time commitment from the practice group leaders. This included time meeting with the KM Innovation Team to brainstorm and strategize; review draft products and development; and provide critical feedback and input. By maintaining the vision and devoting time to these initiatives, these projects were able to come to fruition.