This week, Epstein Becker & Green unveiled a new iteration of its mobile app, which now aims to provide information on the latest wage and hour law developments in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia plus the federal sphere — about five times as much information as when the app launched in 2012.
In recent years, various firms have launched mobile apps: Latham & Watkins has nine apps, Baker & McKenzie has seven and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has two, according to the Apple app store.
Still, even as apps proliferate, Epstein’s wage and hour guide remains one of the most labor-intensive apps launched by a Big Law firm yet, and it constantly requires the firm’s lawyers to feed in new information about the law.
[caption id="attachment_4102" align="alignleft” width="199"][Image “Michael Kun” (src=https://bol.bna.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Kun_M_Hi.jpg)]Michael Kun[/caption]
Michael Kun, who heads up the Epstein’s wage and hour committee, said the app was conceived as a marketing tool and is seen internally as a great success. It has been downloaded more than 10,000 times, has users in 50 countries and at one point was being downloaded by more than a hundred users per week.
Overall, the firm has invested far less than $100,000 building it, he said, but added that keeping the app current with the law has required a tremendous effort from the firm’s attorneys.
Big Law Business caught up with Kun to ask about the challenges and lessons learned from launching an app. Below is a lightly edited transcript.
Big Law Business: What were the challenges?
Kun: I don’t want to suggest that money was no object. I will say we had no difficulty convincing the management of our firm that this was something valuable.
One of the biggest challenges was making sure that whatever we were putting on the app was accurate. The last thing we wanted to do was create an app that was good-looking and worked but was giving inaccurate information. One of the things we could have done is outsourced this. We could have hired some contract lawyers to develop the content for this. The reason we only spoke about doing that for a few seconds is there is a certain irony in developing an app to let people know your expertise in an area and then hiring someone else to populate content. So we’re talking about some fairly significant time commitments from the attorneys to create the content. Writing and proofreading and so forth.
Big Law Business: You mentioned that people downloaded it in 50 states. Is it also giving you intelligence on potential clients?
Kun: There isn’t a database, if you will, that would give us email addresses that we could then turn around and create a mailing list. And I don’t think we want that. Whoever downloads it, they know where to find us. The app very much is designed to be a marketing tool. It is. For our current clients, we hope that solidifies this relationship. For potential clients, we hope that having this app .. that they’ll think of using us if they ever have a wage hour issue. That our name will be synonymous with wage hour.
Big Law Business: How much time did you spend on the design?
Kun: There was some time. The icon itself, some time went into what it would look like. The idea was it would be something that identified us … as, for lack of a better word, serious. We didn’t want it be something that would be playful. We spent more time dealing with what we wanted the various icons on the app to look like, what we wanted the splash page to look like, the splash page is when you first open the app for three or four seconds you’re going to get an image. We wanted something that was eye-catching, and professional and something that was serious.
Big Law Business: What’s the reaction been from lawyers at other firms?
Kun: I’ve gotten somewhat amusing feedback from colleagues at other law firms. Their reaction was: why would you do this? Wouldn’t you rather have them call you up and ask you this, so you can bill for this? And our reaction was ‘No … we’d rather have our clients and potential clients access this information and not have to be charged 50 or 60 dollars and not have to worry. And if they ever need help, that’s when we’d like to provide it to them. But I do find it amusing that some firms are offended that we’re doing this for free.