We are delighted to announce that LEAP Dev, the development arm responsible for creating LEAP Legal Software, has been named as one of the Australian Financial Review’s Most Innovative Companies for 2020. Taking out 7th place, the award recognises LEAP’s ongoing commitment to innovation.

When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, lawyers and law firms around Australia were faced with unprecedented circumstances – working from home was just the tip of the iceberg. Despite the challenge of adjusting to working from home themselves, the LEAP Dev team pioneered in creating more remote-working integrations and solutions for LEAP software. Their ability to pivot their thinking and continuously identify opportunities to innovate is just one of many reasons why LEAP Dev landed a place on this year’s Most Innovative Companies list.

Judged by Inventium – Australia’s leading innovation consultancy, the AFR Most Innovative Companies List is compiled using a unique and scientifically proven approach to help organisations grow through innovation. As the only national competition of it’s kind, the annual Most Innovative Companies List recognises companies that consistently endeavor to innovate and establish themselves as leaders in their category.

The GM of Marketing at LEAP, James Connelly, sat down for an interview with Mark Burgess, CEO of LEAP Dev, to discuss how they rocketed up the Innovative Companies List.

How does it feel to be recognised as one of Australia’s Most Innovative Companies?

Fantastic – but also well deserved. Innovation is at the heart of everything we do and to be recognised for this is what we work so hard for. We’ve received industry awards in Australia and overseas but this is the first time we’ve been recognised in a mainstream publication as a technology business, and not just a legal technology business.

The AFR has cited developments allowing legal practitioners to work from home during COVID-19 as key to LEAP’s success in the Awards this year. Can you tell us about these developments?

When COVID-19 hit, we knew that working arrangements for legal practitioners would inevitably change, and like employees across many industries, they too would have to start working from home. Legal technology that enabled remote working made perfect sense to us pre COVID-19, and we have been working for the last decade trying to get law firms to leave outdated server machines behind and adopt modern practice management software. We eliminated all of the constraints that came with client servers to ensure lawyers could work remotely – whether it was from home, from court, or on-the-go.

While changing the environment in which you work is never an easy task, firms that were already using LEAP were able to seamlessly transition to working from home by simply installing the LEAP desktop client and Microsoft 365 home machines, no complex server or remote access software was required. When it became apparent that many people were beginning to work from home, we added integrations to Zoom and Microsoft Teams so that lawyers could continue connecting with their colleagues and clients respectively.

How did you make the decision to integrate with Zoom and Microsoft Teams? How difficult was this transition for the development team?

As a result of remote working, we anticipated that communication would be one of the biggest hurdles legal practitioners would face. With practitioners no longer able to be with their clients and colleagues physically, we had to act fast and provide alternative ways to communicate easily from afar. For a platform like LEAP that was built around remote working, integrating with Microsoft Teams and Zoom seemed like the next logical step in our innovation story.

These integrations made it possible for practitioners to easily share documents and matters while in either a chat or video call with colleagues or clients – eliminating the need to cite or quote matter details over the phone. Whether our clients opted for a solution like Zoom, or if they wished to use Microsoft Teams as part of their existing Office 365 software, we wanted to make both integrations readily available for them.

“These integrations weren’t a ‘first to market’ initiative but rather a way that our clients could benefit from software they already had”.

How were you able to react to the needs of the market in light of COVID-19 restrictions so quickly?

The Dev team are committed to continuous innovation. Adapting and pivoting our thinking under great pressure and time constraints is what makes us able to innovate consistently.

Meeting the needs of the market in light of COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year wasn’t so much a matter of difficulty, but was more a matter of it being the right step-forward. Adapting to the environmental conditions was worth pulling resources from other strategic tasks to ultimately meet the needs of our client base as efficiently as possible.

Can you give us a quick overview of the dev team at LEAP? How many departments, who does what?

LEAP Dev is a technology business and we specialise in legal technology – technology that helps lawyers. LEAP is by far our most important product but there’s a whole suite of software that we work on to help lawyers including By Lawyers, RapidPay, LawConnect and more. We have over 100 employees in LEAP Dev working on specific legal technology solutions targeted to 1-100 user law firms.

“We’re always trying to listen to the clients. We collect feedback from a variety of sources and that makes its way into the software, balanced in with whatever else we’re working on strategically. Every version of LEAP just gets better.”

It’s been about a year since the launch of LEAP 2x. What has the reaction/feedback been like to the Dev team?

2x was a pivotal release for us. We had a lot of underlying technology which we upgraded. I believe it was probably one of, if not the best products released – not just the best version of LEAP but one of the best products in the market over the last decade.

It was fantastic to hear all the positive feedback from clients about their experience with 2x. Getting such a positive response makes what we do all the more worth it and drives us to continue to provide our clients with the most innovative practice management software on the market.

“We’re always trying to listen to the clients – myself and the product managers get out several times a year to go and speak with law firms about their experience with LEAP. We then balance this feedback with our own strategic objectives.”