City law firm Travers Smith is giving away free of charge home-grown email management software in the hope of stimulating greater co-operation between firms over products that do not confer a competitive advantage.
MatMail scans a lawyer’s mailbox and identifies emails whose content matches that already filed in the firm’s document management system.
It then aims to encourage good email filing behaviour and shrink bloated mailboxes by automatically moving messages into relevant ‘matter-centric’ folders.
In this way, the firm claimed, “MatMail can remove the laborious task of email filing from lawyers’ daily to-do lists, freeing more time for client work or out of work activities”.
Travers said it would use the software to rank lawyers that demonstrated they were organised and reward them with larger inbox capacity, whereas those that did not would find their mailbox space restricted.
MatMail’s creators, a team led by head of legal technology Shawn Curran, will make the software ‘open source’ for free distribution – meaning the code is visible and others can easily modify how it looks and works.
The only proviso is that anyone using the software is asked to refrain from selling it on.
Explaining to Legal Futures the thinking behind the move, Mr Curran said: “We certainly don’t see ourselves competing with other law firms on email management, so it made sense to share it.
“We hope that many other law firms openly share projects that don’t provide a competitive advantage.”
He added: “Travers Smith also likes to offer our associates a work/life balance, and what better way to demonstrate that to the market than share a piece of technology that can reduce stress and give busy people valuable time back?”
He also said the software would encourage good habits: “By rewarding good filing practice with larger mailbox sizes, it will mean that lawyers will actually use the tool to become more organised, rather than us having to push it on them.”
Firms interested in using the software should email Mr Curran at email@example.com.