A Law Firm’s Ambitious Dashboard: Inside the Cadwalader Cabinet

Jan. 11, 2016, 2:10 PM

Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft on Monday unveiled an updated version of “The Cabinet,” a fee-based internet dashboard that helps users navigate the financial regulatory landscape and is the brainchild of partner Steven Lofchie.

The Cadwalader Cabinet, found at www.findknowdo.com, contains numerous resources: Thousands of articles, whole statutes, manuals a synchronizable calendar that shows when various regulatory agencies meet as well as deadlines to comment on new rules or regulations. It also can create simple legal documents, such as a confidentiality agreement, and it has programs that help answer baseline legal questions — for instance, whether someone qualifies as an accredited investor.

The redesigned site contains 55,000 documents — more than double the previous version.

“It was a bicycle or a skateboard. This is a rocket,” said Lofchie.

Such tools represent an incremental step toward commoditization of the legal market and are are becoming more common: In June, the legal analyst Outsell pegged the overall market for ‘information as a legal service’ at $98 million and estimated it will hit $176 million by 2017. Other firms that have launched online dashboards have focused on helping corporate clients navigate local tax laws, and basic employment questions, including what constitutes an independent contractor.

The tools are generally seen as a way to strengthen client relationships and in some cases make money. According to the Outsell report, in 2014, various firms drew revenue from their information services: Allen & Overy derived $15 million; Baker & McKenzie derived $11 million; DLA Piper and Linklaters each derived $10 million; and Clifford Chance derived $4 million.

At Cadwalader, the firm claims The Cabinet’s free daily newsletter, which offers up a fresh take on the latest regulation and rules, has more than 11,000 subscribers. However, most of the resources on the site itself are behind a paywall and the firm will not disclose how many paying subscribers it has or even the fee, which depends on the number of users, and other factors. Lofchie described it as a service for clients, and in his words, the financial industry.

“We’re providing value to our clients and I think you have to start there,” he said. “What do law firms do? We’re knowledge providers.”

Lofchie declined to comment on the price point, or the number of full-time employees that the Cabinet has.

He said the project requires hours per week from him, but also helps with his practice: As the co-chair of Cadwalader’s Financial Services Group, Lofchie is both a deal lawyer, and a regulatory lawyer.

The Cabinet is an extension of his role as a regulatory lawyer in that it allows him to speak about issues through commentary and videos. The firm claims 20 percent of the newsletter’s subscribers hail from governmental and regulatory agencies.

Lofchie said the project grew out of his book about U.S.broker-dealer regulations. A publisher put it online in the late 1990s, but eventually he decided that readers would be better served if the information in the book were contextualized with helpful links to relevant documents.

That inspired him to create the original version of The Cabinet approximately six years ago, with Lofchie and other members of the firm producing articles and commentary on new financial products. Over time, he added more and more resources, such as links to relevant documents and an automated calendar.

“We’re covering law and regulation. We publish it, we explain it,” he said. “We do comic things.... It’s a little more eccentric than your average law firm site because I find it funny. I’m a little more eccentric than your average lawyer.”

About a year ago, Lofchie said the redesign started and the team only plans to continue adding more documents and features. He declined to comment on the overall cost.

“We’re not a blog, we’re not a library, we are the universe,” he said. “You know: Walt Whitman ‘ I encompass everything.’”

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