Q&A with the Founder and CEO of Zola Suite
The legal practice management software a younger Fred Cohen envisioned for his own law firm was an end-to-end cloud-based platform with built-in accounting. The problem was, it didn't exist. So Fred created it. He's the Founder, CEO, and Chief Product Architect of Zola Suite, which combines best-in-class case management with robust billing, accounting, and reporting, as well as intelligent email. He calls it, “the power of one.” One tool for modern law firms—from solo to large—that does it all, ensuring their businesses can be nimble and scale. Fred shared with us his passion for designing software that serves as the single source of truth for Zola Suite customers.
LawPay: What makes Zola Suite different from other legal tech?
Fred Cohen: The proliferation of APIs has enabled a lot of integrations between applications. Despite their promise, if not thoughtfully designed and carefully implemented, integrations can end up offering limited interoperability, and extra cost. Which is why at Zola Suite we have a strong bias for built-in vs. “tacked-on.”
That being said, we do work collaboratively with strategic partners such as LawPay to create an integration that is deeply embedded within Zola Suite, for a seamless user experience. We’ve heard countless times how users love the way we’ve implemented LawPay payment processing technology in the recently released Zola Payments.
It seems like you're continuously improving the product. Where do you get ideas for updates from?
FC: We don’t think there is a hard line between art, design, and user experience. For example, the relationship between the sizes and shapes of Zola’s user interface elements are based on the golden ratio.
As far as features, we are inspired by the guiding principles in the works of W. Edwards Deming, a preeminent productivity expert and Michael Gerber, author of the “E-Myth” book series. I’m such a big E-Myth fan that I keep a box of copies to give to colleagues. We prominently showcase these principles on our site’s vision page:
- Individuals and organizations EXCEL when equipped with the RIGHT TOOLS
- What isn’t MEASURED cannot be IMPROVED
- It is impossible to achieve SCALE without a SYSTEMATIC APPROACH
Why should lawyers be data-conscious when it comes to managing their practices? What reports or metrics do you think help firms make smarter business decisions?
FC: One thing I’ve become cognizant of is just how frequently I make assumptions due to biases imbued by my life experience. Even if I’m aware of my biases, I still can’t reliably correct for them without a reality check. I know I’m not the only one who suffers from this fallacy. Some reality checks that Zola Suite’s reporting can offer, include:
- What do you think is your most profitable practice area?
- Who is billing most—yet collecting least?
- Who is your largest referrer?
- If you have more than one office, which is your most profitable?
This is an area that we’re putting a ton of effort behind, including multi-dimensional visuals that can identify trends, correlations, and outliers.
You recommend LawPay to your clients. What is it about LawPay that you think is the most helpful to lawyers?
We enthusiastically recommend LawPay. In fact, LawPay is the exclusive payment processor for Zola Suite, despite the fact that other processors have been actively soliciting us. Why? First and foremost, we deeply respect LawPay as an organization. It has a world class culture which is, frankly, similar to ours—one that is based on integrity and laser-focused on delivering the best possible product and experience for customers. We also love the fact that LawPay offers a first-rate payment processing platform that is perfectly optimized for law practices.
As a lawyer yourself, what advice do you have for firms that want to go paperless? Why should they?
We’ve seen many firms take a crack at it. The ones that are successful not only deploy the right hardware and software, but also have massive discipline and dedication to the cause. You will have your detractors. Personally, I can be partial to the printed page when I have to read through a document that is more than a few pages long. Of course, paperless doesn’t mean literally always paperless. It means for most situations—whether it’s client files, routine document review, and pre-bills—you are primarily electronic. Alas, you’ll still have to do the occasional 4:30 p.m. Staples run for toner.
Oh, and on the subject of paperless, did I mention we’re about to launch the industry’s only AI-powered smart document search? You heard it here first.
Any parting thoughts on technology and the legal industry?
One of the most interesting conversations happening in the legal tech community is whether cloud-based practice management is ready for mid-sized and large law firms. Of course, I’m a bit biased, but … yes, yes it is.
We’ve been engaging with middle market firms for a few years now and have successfully delivered the robust capabilities they’re seeking in a modern, cloud-based platform which has revolutionized their practices.
To learn more about Zola Payments, powered by LawPay, visit lawpay.com/partners/zola-suite.
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