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LawTech Member:

Barbal

 

Founders Tom Bartley(CEO), and Dave Balderstone (CTO) chat to us about their company, Barbal.

Tell us about Barbal

Barbal is a collaborative document editor designed how professionals want to work. Draft in private, share when ready. We automate all the merging and make sure that everyone always has the latest changes.

We founded Barbal in 2018 after leading a programme to completely re-draft 12,000 pages of engineering standards with a public sector client. We learned how much time and effort is wasted on basic document admin tasks, particularly when working across organisations or teams. We looked at real-time tools like Google Docs and Office365 and realised that they don’t give the control enterprises need.

When working on complex technical matters, professionals don’t want to share their thinking in real-time, and quality standards like Lexcel or ISO 9001 require internal reviews before deliverables are shared externally.

We’ve been working with a range of law and engineering firms to understand user needs and hone the user experience so there’s practically no learning curve required. Our beta version was released in May 2021 and we’re already getting amazing feedback on how much time and confusion people are saving when working with big documents across organisations.
 

How will Barbal look to support legal?

When drafting bespoke documents and reports, 20% of the lawyer’s time is wasted on admin. Not only is this hugely inefficient, it places a huge cognitive load on people that adds no value whatsoever. Tasks like merging versions, cleaning comments to protect privilege and even basic version control all slow down legal work.

We’re focussing on a few key areas of commercial law for now, particularly areas where there’s lots of bespoke drafting and collaboration between firms and clients; construction contracts, IP and data protection, banking, and insurance. 

Why did you join Eagle Labs?

With engineering backgrounds, we understand the importance and mechanics of collaboration, quality management and version control when working with high-stakes deliverables. The similarities between our experience in professional service firms and how we’ve grown to understand law firms work is strikingly similar. However, there are definitely nuances that make the legal sector different and need to be designed for.

The LawTech Eagle Lab gives us the opportunity to meet and learn from those who have “been there” with implementing tech for legal users and allows us to tailor the Barbal solution accordingly. 

Taking on the established tool of choice for lawyers is no mean feat, so being part of an environment that champions innovation and brings together people from across the industry to make things better is definitely where we want to be.
 

How has your experience been so far with Eagle labs?

The Eagle Lab team has been amazing, always available and willing to make introductions. I’ve been set up with a mentor via the Law Society, Chris Tart-Roberts at Macfarlanes, and have already had several really useful sessions with the partners in the Eagle Lab, especially Gary Gallen at rradar. 

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