In Attorney at Work’s Spotlight Q&A, we talk with the people inspiring, driving and creating the next new things in the legal technology industry. During his dozen-plus years with NetDocuments, Product Manager Bradlee Duncan has held a few titles: Quality Assurance Engineer, Customer Support Tech, Professional Services Consultant and Trainer. “The cross-functional knowledge has helped me understand our users as well as our infrastructure requirements when evaluating a new feature request,” he says. A favorite quote speaks to his philosophy: “The greatest real thrill that life offers is to create, to construct, to develop something useful. Too often we fail to recognize and pay tribute to the creative spirit. It is that spirit that creates our jobs.” – Alfred P. Sloan.
NetDocuments and the Legal Marketplace
If you had to describe NetDocuments on the back of a customer’s business card, what would you write?
Bradlee Duncan (BD): Create, secure, manage, access and collaborate on docs/emails anywhere, anytime, on any device with NetDocuments.
Tell us about NetDocuments’ chief product.
BD: NetDocuments offers the leading cloud-based document and email management service, combining all aspects of a document lifecycle — from our tight integrations with MS Office and Adobe to standardizing how documents are saved, categorized and versioned. Matter-centric workspaces drive organization with enterprise content search and archival capabilities through customizable retention policies. Anytime, anywhere access enables attorneys to simply get more done. Out-of-the-box disaster recovery, compliance and collaboration tools reduce the cost of hardware and ongoing IT investment. (For an overview of what we do, click here.)
What need did you identify in a lawyer’s practice that you seek to meet?
BD: For more than a decade, NetDocuments has been addressing attorneys’ top concerns for managing documents and email. We strive to improve organization of content, mobility, disaster recovery (business continuity), compliance and collaboration on content. Lastly, managing email and being able to find content (enterprise search) quickly are currently at the forefront for most attorneys today. (For information on the benefits to law firms, click here.)
What’s next … ?
BD: Personally, I’m working on our new additions to activity tracking in NetDocuments, which will be released in our next few updates. The next big feature I’ll be focusing on is further integration with Office Online and Google Docs (among many other new features the product has coming!). You can watch a tour of our latest release here and watch a webinar that demonstrates them, too.
How will it make a lawyer’s work life better?
BD: From the activity tracking perspective, it will meet additional compliance requirements in whichever industry you practice. As an attorney, you won’t have to think about compliance — we take care of it for you; rest assured it’s being taken care of.
On the Office Online and Google Docs front, attorneys (and any person using NetDocuments) will be able to use Office Online or Google Docs to edit their documents while still using the tools we offer to organize them, search them, etc. This further extends your mobility as you’ll be able to edit files in their native formats on any device, even if that device doesn’t have MS Word or other applications installed on it.
If you were a practicing lawyer, what would you be doing now to plan for a successful future for your practice?
BD: I would deliberately set aside time to learn the tools of my trade — things like MS Word, Outlook, document management, etc. Just like a heart surgeon might have thorough knowledge of all the details about a heart, he or she is not effective as a surgeon if he doesn’t know how to use or read the ECG software. Likewise with the legal practice — if you know and can use the tools properly, it will make you more effective all around as an attorney.
What best describes your primary function and role at the company?
BD: I am one of our product managers. In short, I am the interface between a stakeholder (e.g., end-user, attorney, secretary, admin, prospective customers) and our software. I try to determine from feedback what new features we should add and in what priority we should work on them so that we provide the most value to our customers.
When did you first get involved with the legal profession? How?
BD: Here at NetDocuments. The first real exposure to the legal profession was in my customer service role about 10 years ago, a few years after starting at NetDocuments. Later, as a Professional Services Consultant I interacted with and trained various types of people who use our system (attorneys, paralegals, secretaries, etc.) at many different law firms, both domestic and international.
Describe your personal business philosophy.
BD: Put first things first. But don’t forget to also put second things second and third things third, etc. If everything is the highest priority, consequently, nothing is the highest priority.
Describe your best day at work.
BD: It definitely involves one of our lunchtime bike rides here at NetDocuments (either road bike or mountain bike). But, that aside, my best day at work is a day with most of my time spent in quadrant II of Covey’s priority management matrix — i.e., working on things that are not urgent (yet) but are important. It’s that kind of work that keeps my head clear and lets me see into the long term.
Your proudest moment or milestone there?
BD: My proudest moment was seeing customers’ reaction to our completely revamped and modernized user interface a few years ago — the design for which I contributed to. Since then we’ve further built upon that foundation to make sure our customers have a modern, easy-to-use interface without needing to update/upgrade servers every few months — we take care of the updating for you.
Tell us about your personal technology “suite.”
BD: On a daily basis, I end up using most of the following: Samsung Galaxy S3 (with way too many apps of all sorts), Kindle Paperwhite, Team Foundation Server 2012 (as an Agile/scrum product dev software at work), any computer with an Internet connection (because that’s all I need for NetDocuments), Google calendar for personal and Outlook calendar for work.
How do you get it all DONE? Productivity tip?
BD: Learn how to use Outlook mailbox rules to help prioritize email. Really.
What three things will we always find in your desk drawer?
BD: Punch cards from various nearby restaurants, a whole bunch of old business cards that I’ve since digitized (don’t know why I still have them!), Clorox disinfecting wipes — surprisingly, there’s really not much else!
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
BD: Riding bikes (mountain, road, otherwise), skiing, wrenching/tinkering on cars or bikes, hiking with my wife and kids, traveling, sailing.
Where do you get your news?
BD: Various sources, but mostly sourced from the RealClear series of websites.
Best book you’ve read in the past year?
BD: The Innovator’s Dilemma.
BD: Building chemical models.
Anything else you would like Attorney at Work’s readers to know?
BD: Just one more favorite quote: “The expert knows more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing.” – Mahatma Gandhi
For more information on NetDocuments and its latest product releases, visit http://blog.netdocuments.com/14-1/. Watch the webinar overview of the latest features at http://youtu.be/Srz7jatEP5I.
Attorney at Work’s Product Spotlight Q&A’s are sponsored interviews about the best of the best of the legal technology industry — new products, updates and what’s happening with the industry leaders. For more information, click here.