Customer: Sheppard Mullin Team: Finance and Bankruptcy
Last year, a financial institution embarked on an aggressive growth plan in real estate finance and asked a team of attorneys within Sheppard Mullin’s Finance and Bankruptcy practice to help them implement that plan, specifically by increasing their capacity to service their anticipated deal flow. Meeting this challenge would require not just increasing the number of lawyers available to work on the client’s transactions, but also finding ways to streamline their processes and better integrate them with the client’s processes. Using Office & Dragons (O&D) for the first time, the team was immediately able to save time creating document sets on some of the largest deals they had worked on for this client, with multiple borrowers and properties. The client was very interested to see how Sheppard Mullin was streamlining their deals using new technology and asked the team to show them O&D. Sheppard Mullin was very pleased to find a unique solution that both their attorneys and their clients are excited about.
Challenge: Last year, a financial institution, and Sheppard Mullin client, embarked on an aggressive growth plan in real estate finance and asked a team of attorneys within the firm’s Finance and Bankruptcy practice to help them implement that plan by increasing their capacity to service their anticipated deal flow.
The client has sets of negotiated documents with certain borrowers. In order to help their client grow, one of the key challenges Sheppard Mullin would have to solve is how to take these various pre-negotiated document sets for each borrower and quickly implement them across a number of states in each new transaction.
Another key growth challenge was that the client would be doing larger deals with more properties and multiple borrowers. This not only meant that a much larger number of documents would need to be drafted within a short time, but also much more information would have to be kept track of and reflected accurately in the documents.
“The key thing is speed, because the borrowers want their money; they want the deal to close. The quicker we're able to generate the document set, the quicker the deal closes,” says Talya Gulezyan, Sheppard Mullin associate. “And it's really important that this is executed correctly, because there is a lot of critical information going into these documents: loan amounts, interest rates, borrower names, legal descriptions… It's difficult to maintain accuracy if you have to input this information manually across a large number of documents.”
Meeting these challenges would require “not just increasing the number of lawyers available to work on the client’s transactions, but also finding ways to streamline our processes and better integrate them with the client’s processes,” says Bill Wyatt, Sheppard Mullin partner.
Finding a solution: Sheppard Mullin had recently launched a pilot of Office & Dragons (O&D). “We had piloted other process automation and transaction management systems with the primary objective of streamlining legal work and creating practical efficiencies for our clients,” says Ali Shahidi, Sheppard Mullin’s Chief Innovation Officer. “O&D was the only system that delivered on practicality, ease of use and effectiveness. Their attention to detail in product design and process onboarding made it very easy for us to use the platform on live deals from day one.”
When Bill learned about O&D during an internal firm presentation, he immediately saw it as something his team should try to help streamline and speed up their work on their client’s deals.
The first deal they tried O&D on was one of the largest they had worked on for this client, with multiple borrowers and properties. For each of the seven properties, they would have to generate a set of 20 documents (140 document in total), including mortgages, assignment of leases, UCCs, and various other documents. “I wouldn’t have had enough time or enough team members to generate that many documents manually,” says Talya.
Despite this being Talya’s first time using O&D, meaning she had to learn as she went, she was able to reduce the time it took to create the documents and close the deal faster.
“I also used it for the signature pages, which saved a lot of time,” says Talya. “Normally, someone would have to extract the PDF signature page one-by-one from each document, which is very time-consuming. With O&D, I simply created a template signature page with placeholders for the borrower details, and since I already had those borrower details in my turnsheet, all of the signature pages were generated in an instant.”
Results: The Sheppard Mullin team was very pleased with the results they’ve seen using Office & Dragons on their matters. “Office & Dragons so far has been an excellent tool to streamline the process of producing standard document sets more quickly by focusing both the client and the lawyers on the standard set of information to be collected for each transaction. And for several recent transactions involving multiple borrowers and properties, it allowed us to fairly quickly generate documents for the remaining borrowers and properties after negotiating an initial document set,” says Bill.
Their client was also very interested to see how Sheppard Mullin was streamlining their deals using new technology and asked the team to show them how the data was organized and the documents were created in Office & Dragons. “When we showed them O&D, I think they really saw how we are trying to implement new processes and technologies to help them,” says Talya. “It’s really great to have that kind of engagement with a client.”
“Our innovation program is focused on practical solutions for our attorneys and clients. O&D is among those unique solutions that both our attorneys and our clients are excited about. It is fun to press a button and see it actually save hours of manual work,” says Ali.