When I recently spoke with Joe Campos, Chair of the Corporate/Securities Law Group at the 20-lawyer, Seattle-based firm Ashbaugh Beal, he made a compelling case for how Corporate Focus fits with his firm’s brand: Law As Results. Joe explained that first and foremost at Ashbaugh Beal, “it’s about being effective, efficient and economical – the 3 Es. With Corporate Focus, we’re technologically ahead of the curve, which allows us to do things for our clients that most firms our size can’t do. It also allows us to compete with the bigger firms.”
When Ashbaugh Beal implemented Corporate Focus a few years ago, the goal was to solve three major problems: day-to-day workflow inefficiencies, the inability to share client information, and excessive reliance on spreadsheets. Joe elaborated on each of these issues:
1) Efficiency: “Paper minute books are only as good as the organization’s ability to keep them perfectly updated. If a certain document hasn’t arrived or is sitting on someone’s desk – and the minute books haven’t been updated – anyone flipping through the book will find flawed information. And that’s not where you want to be when you need to advise clients quickly.”
2) Sharing: “When you have minute books for so many clients, you typically only keep one copy on hand. We are not in the business of creating duplicate minute books for the entire staff. So, there was really no ability to efficiently share information internally which, of course, made external sharing out of the question.”
3) Spreadsheets: “Like most law firms, we were relying on Excel for cap tables and for reconciliation, because there was no automated way to track capital structures. Instead, you had to ‘reengage on the cap structure’ from a fresh perspective every time you made a move on the cap table. So, if I was granting options or planning for a financing of some kind, there was no way for me to pull up a cap table and say, ‘Ok, here’s where we are today – where do we want to go next?’ It was inefficient and a drag on our need to respond to clients quickly with accurate data.”
With the Corporate Focus implementation, Joe wanted compelling results for both Ashbaugh Beal and its clients. And that is exactly what he got. Says Joe:
“I’d say that the most common internal use of Corporate Focus is for monitoring capital structures. It’s made our lives much easier because we’ve pulled away from reliance on multiple Excel spreadsheets and trying to figure out what the relation is from one version to the next. We now have a much more efficient way of dealing with that kind of information. Because everything is current, it’s very easy to create a .pdf file or export the information to Excel when the client requests it.”
Joe adds, “When you know your organization is a well-oiled machine and that everything gets into Corporate Focus immediately, there’s a certain sense of comfort. If I log into Corporate Focus from a hotel room in New York, I know that a cap table is up-to-date and I can start my work. When my client calls and says, ‘What percentage of our company is owned by the Series A stockholders?’, I can just pull up the cap table and it’s ready to go. Having confidence about current cap table data enables us to move so much more quickly to creating capitalization models for planning corporate finance transactions.”
In conclusion, Joe mentioned some of the less quantifiable benefits of an online system.
“I knew that I wanted my team to be organized, but I truly had no idea what it would feel like to be so organized. The pay-off really is in two things: peace of mind and confidence. Peace of mind in knowing that information is secure, accurate and up-to-date. And confidence in being able to deliver this information to the client; to hand over a cap table and know it is up-to-the-minute. When you first start out with Corporate Focus, you always have the goals of organization, efficiency, and all the other cold terms. The warm terms you don’t even realize until you have already implemented the system – and then you get that sense of peace of mind and confidence. It’s great. I sound like a brochure – but it’s absolutely true.”
To learn more about how Corporate Focus can help with your client service initiatives and provide immediate access to your clients’ transactional information and documents, take a look at the Product Video.