NEW YORK CITY — January 22, 2013 – Today, CEO Chi Eng, Esq. announces the launch of NeuLexa at LegalTech in New York City January 29-31 at the New York Hilton, booth #2506. NeuLexa is designed by lawyers for lawyers who want to significantly strengthen legal work product quality, bolster client relations, assemble geographically dispersed teams, improve cost efficiency and thrive in the new legal environment.
NeuLexa rotates legal workflow around people, not data. NeuLexa achieves this revolutionary objective through an intuitive project and document management interface and powerful, closed circuit social media features which leverage the knowledge base of legal teams. Project team and client collaboration is conducted within a highly secure environment that employs military-grade encryption of data, messages and files during transit and in storage.
Attorneys must answer clients’ increasing demands for collaboration, mobile interaction and value in legal work product. This means legal workflow must be reengineered to include RFP management, project management, geographically dispersed and outsourced legal teams and the influx of BYOD culture.
Built upon its proprietary, patent-pending algorithm, NeuLexa delivers an immediately deployable solution for law firms to excel in this complex environment that minimizes legal cost and maximizes the quality of legal work product. Some of the many useful features include:
CEO of NeuLexa, Chi Eng, remarks, “Global collaboration, flexibility and leveraging the knowledge base of legal team members while serving clients’ demands for increased transparency and value in the legal work product is what NeuLexa does. We’re pleased to demonstrate this exciting platform at LegalTech and look forward to a great show.”
The Neulexa platform is readily deployable on internal servers or Amazon’s premium spec cloud infrastructure which is compliant with various security protocols such as SOC 1/SSAE16/ISAW 3402, FISMA Moderate, PCI DSS Level 1, ISO 27001 US International Traffic in Arms Regulations, FIPS, and other compliance initiatives, e.g. HIPAA. To learn more about NeuLexa, please visit: www.neulexa.com.
About NeuLexa Corp.
Engineered from the ground-up for the global-mobile legal environment, NeuLexa uniquely combines an enterprise-grade document collaboration platform with project management features, transactional capabilities and team building social tools which leverage the legal team knowledge base. Built upon its proprietary, patent-pending algorithm designed by NeuLexa CEO Chi Eng, who is a practicing IP attorney, former AT&T Bell Labs engineer, and former general counsel, NeuLexa brings geographically dispersed teams an analytical and collaborative secure environment which encompasses project initiation in the RFP management module through the matter lifecycle with project management features, milestones and transactional capabilities. NeuLexa’s on demand platform is infinitely scalable and employs military-grade encryption of data, messages and files during transit and in storage. For more information visit www.neulexa.com and follow them on Twitter @NeuLexa.
Patricia Ann Hale
Proxy Public Relations, LLC
By Chi Eng, Founder, NeuLexa Corp.
As the global economy experiences fundamental changes, so does the legal market. New market rules – some familiar, some unfamiliar – are being imposed upon market participants. For example, corporate legal departments are increasingly asked to bring predictability, control, and budgetary discipline to the legal management function, while potential legal risks have become less predictable and more complex. It has been reported that CFOs and procurement professionals are circumventing the legal department in an effort to rein in the legal spend. On the other hand, legal service providers are asked to move away from their traditional time-based “cost plus” revenue model to a hybrid “fixed-fee” model, while feeling the pressure of increased revenue volatility and the need for greater diversification of revenue sources.
Alternative legal solutions such as Legal Zoom may be suitable for most consumers, but such solutions are unfit for sophisticated projects which require experts, as well as legal professionals based in different jurisdictions. But organizing and managing such expert teams may be daunting as they are dispersed geographically.
The problem of managing the cost of legal services while maintaining the quality of work product has troubled many in the legal industry. Law, like any mature industry, is generally resistant to change. What is needed is an efficient solution for managing legal projects within a predictable budget while allowing the managers the ability to trade off the seemingly competing factors of quality and cost.
NeuLexa provides one such solution. NeuLexa has created an innovative, cloud-based global platform that addresses the needs of the legal procurement managers and the legal service providers, respectively. It combines project management techniques, document and information collaboration, and social media features to enable procurement managers to manage legal spend and the legal professional teams to share knowledge, collaborate, and deliver work product on this unified platform.
How it Works
The NeuLexa platform employs functional blocks or modules of communication, collaboration, and project/workflow management to accomplish an important business goal: Minimize cost and maximize quality of a legal work product. Some of the useful features include searchable professional profiles, project team formation, team member connectivity, negotiable or unilaterally specifiable project milestones, email messages capture (e.g., on a per project basis), and interest groups to foster a knowledge-intensive environment, among others.
Briefly described below are some of the important functions enabled by NeuLexa’s integrated platform:
Project and Workflow Management
Project Bidding. It is advantageous for an in-house legal procurement executive to easily solicit qualified professionals and then staff the project with those interested professionals who can meet certain deadlines, as well as cost and quality objectives. Our platform facilitates such process by allowing the executive to request a set of pre-qualified (and hopefully available) professionals on the platform to “bid” on a project based on a Request for Proposal. Based on their response, the executive and the interested professionals may then negotiate a Statement of Work for the project with mutually agreed deadlines and budget. Using a simple yet comprehensive internal selection matrix, the executive selects the most qualified professional to perform the proposed legal project (e.g. contract review or litigation). Milestones are then negotiated or specified, with or without pricing information.
Once the project is created, the executive and the selected professional may then add team members (e.g. accountants, assistants, paralegals) to the project to, for example, monitor deadlines and review project deliverables, etc. Separately, the selected professional could assign other professionals of different functions and expertise to different milestones such that the professional team may collaborate to create the project deliverables.
Workflow Management. In this environment, the executive may simply dispense with project milestone negotiation and unilaterally specify a set of project milestones so that the selected professional (or team) will produce the deliverables per the specified deadlines.
It is important to note that the platform will send out user-configurable milestone reminders to the entire client and professional team so as to minimize missed deadlines.
Collaborative Document Repository
Users on the platform may upload or “backup” their documents for their personal storage. If the NeuLexa platform is deployed in the Amazon cloud, the documents will be stored in a user-specified region (e.g., US, EU, Singapore, Japan, or Brazil). Users may also upload their work product to their different projects for sharing with the entire project team. In the project environment, the professional team can choose to share with their client, or not, by clicking a “visibility” icon. This way, the professional team can share drafts internally prior to “delivering” their final work product to their client.
If the documents are uploaded as personal documents, the users may selectively share or unshare the documents with an optional message to his connections. In this manner, users need not email documents to each other. Each user would literally be on the same page (i.e., web page), thereby eliminating the confusion of whether the recipients actually received the email attachments and properly placed them in a readily recognizable folder.
It is contemplated that this feature permits the users to use the “personal document” space as their archival repository.
Presently, all documents are searchable by their files names.
Unified Message Module
Communications among clients and professional teams are captured in one of several places: personal, project, or interest groups. Messages are sent from the platform to the registered email accounts of the users, and these messages may be responded to via any mobile device or email account. The replies are captured by the platform and organized accordingly, and automatically routed to all team members in a project or an interest group. This self-organizing feature for messages is particularly advantageous for project based emails or messages where automated organization is desirable.
Interest or Knowledge Groups
These groups may be formed as public or private groups on the platform, and are provided with a library and a discussion forum. An objective of this social media feature is to encourage knowledge sharing among the users and to promote team cohesion as well as healthy expertise competition among the users. Another objective is to provide a virtual meeting room for a special team (that is not project based) to communicate and share information since the messages and library documents are automatically shared with all members in the group.
The platform may optionally provide e-commerce features to thereby allow clients and professionals to settle payments for completed project milestones. The Administrator of the platform may monitor project payment status and notifications generated from the user dashboard. PayPal payment functionalities may be enabled to facilitate payments among clients and professionals.
How is the Platform Compliant
Customers have complete and exclusive administrative control over the cloud-deployable platform and their data. This is accomplished by the customers opening their own Amazon accounts so that they have operational control over their IT resources as they can selectively broaden or narrow the scope of access by permitted users.
Amazon provides certain security policies and processes regarding data and how customers can implement authentication, access consent processes, and audit controls to reduce the risk of outside compromise. These controls, among others, allow customers to restrict access to their systems, carefully and constantly monitor them, and quickly lock them down in case of threat or attack.
The platform is readily deployable on Amazon’s premium security spec cloud infrastructure, which is compliant with various security protocols such as, for example, SOC 1/SSAE 16/ISAE 3402, FISMA Moderate, PCI DSS Level 1, ISO 27001, US International Traffic in Arms Regulations, Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) Publication 140-2, and other compliance initiatives (e.g., HIPAA). The platform may be configured as a public or private cloud depending on your organization requirements.
The platform employs military grade encryption of your data including messages and files – during transit and in storage.
Depending on the customer’s budget and requirement, the platform can be configured to be deployed on a multiplicity of virtual servers and databases across different regions around the world – i.e., scalable redundancy of IT resources. Data storage is automatically duplicated by the Amazon cloud in triplicates to minimize the possibility of data loss.
Data Privacy Compliance
Different jurisdictions such as the EU and across many states in the USA have different data privacy and protection requirements. Accordingly, the platform provides users with the ability to select a geographic region to store their data.
In conclusion, NeuLexa provides an integrated solution via a global platform that allows legal procurement executives of multinational corporations to control legal spend while maintaining quality of the work product. The platform achieves the optimization of cost and quality objectives using innovative project management and collaboration tools and processes.
About Chi Eng
Mr. Eng has 25 years of executive, technical and legal experience in the high tech industry. He founded NeuLexa Corp. in 2010. Not only is he a practicing attorney providing intellectual property advice and general counsel services to technology startups, but also a named inventor of several US patents and patent applications relating to fields of technology such as smart grid technology and trading and settlement platform.
Mr. Eng was a Member of Technical Staff at AT&T Bell Labs (now Alcatel-Lucent) in the 1980s, an IP counsel in a New York City law firm during the 1990s, and the General Counsel of a global technology startup that went public in 2004 with over $100M market valuation on the first day of trading. He also obtained insight into the judicial system as a law clerk for Judge Peter Tom in 1992, who is now an Associate Justice on the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Judicial Department.
He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical and Systems Engineering from State University of New York at Buffalo in 1983, and his law degree from Fordham University School of Law in New York City in 1993. He is licensed in New York and New Jersey, and registered to practice before the US Patent and Trademark Office.
New business models for lawyers have been making waves across the legal professional world. And it has finally come to the attention of the American Bar Association (ABA). On June 19, 2012, the ABA’s Commission on Ethics 20/20 Working Group on Uniformity, Choice of Law, and Conflicts of Interest solicited comments concerning their consideration of when a lawyer’s online activities constitute a presence in a foreign jurisdiction, thereby requiring the lawyer to obtain a license to practice in that jurisdiction.
Specifically, ABA Model Rule 5.5(b)(1) states that “[a] lawyer who is not admitted to practice in this jurisdiction shall not: (1) except as authorized by these Rules or other law, establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in this jurisdiction for the practice of law.” US lawyers take this model rule seriously because failure to comply with a similar rule promulgated by a jurisdiction may result in sanctions against the lawyer.
Given the impact of Rule 5.5(b) on law as it is being practiced in the 21st Century, some of our Neulexa members submitted a comment that we hope assists the ABA Commission to assert some long-needed clarifications on the Rule.
For our inaugural Neulexa blog post, we have reproduced the comment to the ABA Commission from Neulexa members, Mr. Chi Eng and Ms. Zara Watkins (which opinions expressed are those of the authors). We enthusiastically welcome all of your comments, so feel free to share them with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In light of legal and business technology available to practitioners today, Rule 5.5(b) is ambiguous and probably has had a chilling effect on the innovation of efficient legal practices that would otherwise benefit clients and the public as a whole.
We feel that Rule 5.5(b) has created a mine field of possible professional responsibility infractions as practitioners cannot determine how each jurisdiction will decide what activity constitutes "systematic and continuous presence" in the Internet age where practitioners can systematically and continuously communicate with the general public by, for example, maintaining a blog on a public website.
At a minimum what is needed is a new set of exceptions for specific online activities that have been demonstrated to serve “clients and the public and do not create an unreasonable regulatory risk.”
The Working Group proposed four different possibilities. We will discuss each of them below.
1. First Approach – Multifactor Evaluation
The Working Group suggested the following factors for evaluation. While the multi-factor test is useful for a court to determine liability to achieve a fair and equitable result, the stated factors will introduce increased uncertainty to a practitioner. We provide brief comments to each factor.
(a) the nature and volume of communications directed to potential clients in the jurisdiction
A blog post or a website is directed to everyone and/or no one in particular in any jurisdiction. It is a passive invitation for visitors to drop by and read. This factor is not helpful in determining, for example, whether a blog post opining on the effect of some development in case law in a jurisdiction where the practitioner is not licensed is directed to potential clients in that jurisdiction.
(b) whether the purpose of the communications is to obtain new clients in the jurisdiction
One may conclude that when a professional communicates via, for example, a website or blog post about his professional expertise or interests, it has an implicit purpose of obtaining new clients. However, the blog post can also educate clients and the public generally, so that they may become better consumers of legal services. Thus, this factor also does not help a practitioner determine whether presenting his opinions on a website or blog would trigger the requirements of Model Rule 5.5.
(c) the number of the lawyer’s clients in the jurisdiction
This factor begs the question of whether any number of clients (no matter how small that number is) in a jurisdiction would determine whether a practitioner’s activity constitutes “physical presence.” It would be logical, and helpful, to ask what is the threshold number.
(d) the proportion of the lawyer’s clients in the jurisdiction
Like the previous factor, this factor also fails to account for specific activities that give rise to a higher proportion of clients in a jurisdiction, such as, the lawyer’s successful practice (and reputation) in federal courts in the jurisdiction.
(e) the frequency of representing clients in the jurisdiction
This factor also begs the question of whether there should be a threshold number to refer to.
(f) the extent to which the legal services have their predominant effect in the jurisdiction
Use of words such as “predominant effect” greatly increases the uncertainty of legal practice. It is as vague and unhelpful as the term “systematic and continuous.”
(g) the extent to which the representation of clients in the jurisdiction arises out of, or is reasonably related to, the lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted to practice.
While this factor appears friendly to practitioners, a lawyer cannot predetermine how much weight an arbiter would give to this factor.
In sum, far from creating a predictable environment in which to engage in virtual legal practice, the multifactor test increases the burden of practitioners by requiring them to evaluate each these factors, many of which are too vague for clear guidance, before engaging in an activity such as a blog post for fear that the activity could constitute “systematic and continuous presence” in another jurisdiction.
2. Second Approach
Deferring this question to another ABA committee would postpone the long-awaited clarifications on this Rule from the ABA. For all of the reasons stated above, more clarity would encourage further creative innovation in the legal market, which would serve clients and the public at large.
3. Third Approach
Generating an informational report could be helpful, depending on the content of such report. It would be helpful if such a report revisits the rationale for this Rule and publishes historical data on how the various jurisdictions have interpreted it in the past, and more recently since the advent of the virtual law practice business model.
We recommend that at a minimum, the ABA should specifically list blogging in the legal arena as an exception to the Rule because blogging is useful and educational for clients and the general public. It is basically a virtual conversation, which often solicits vibrant discussions through comments, and which can be analogized to conversations occurring in a face-to-face context, for example, a lunch among associates from a law firm, or even discussions at a cocktail party between lawyers and non-lawyers. Some of us lawyers like to opine in a blog; the fact that someone overhears our opinions should not create a conclusion that we are purposefully directing our services to them. That is not the conclusion one would make in real time, and it certainly should not be the case with blogging.
With greater clarity, the budding industry of virtual law practitioners would be encouraged to grow and create innovative alternative options for clients and the public.
We have completed our security enhancements for the website, including, full encryption of all messages and uploaded files using industry best practices. Accordingly, our site is now fully secured for data transit (via VeriSign SSL certificate) and data storage (via AES 128 encryption). We believe these improvements will enable our members to comply with the duty of maintaining confidentiality of all documents and messages on the platform. We note that all these security features work in the background, without requiring any express action on the part of our members. Thus, a member can continue to view, download, and share messages and documents with others in the member's network effortlessly.
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