Cuatrecasas is one of the largest law firms in Europe. In its mission to gain efficiency by innovating its processes, they chose Parallel to digitalize and centralize the management of the information generated by Know Your Client (KYC) policies.
How? With Parallel’s collaborative and interactive platform. They have reduced the time spent by both their back-office team and their clients, making it a fast, secure, and frictionless process.
Cuatrecasas was founded in Barcelona in 1917 – more than 100 years ago.
Since then, they have expanded allover the globe. They have established 27 offices in 13 different countries and a team of more than 1,700 professionals covering all areas of business law. As of 2021, it is the third-largest law firm in Europe by revenue.
Cuatrecasas’ innovative approach has made them stand out from the competition in a traditional industry, such as law firms.
Their motto? “We foment an innovation culture applied to the legal activity, which combines training, procedures, and technological resources to contribute greater value and efficiency for our clients.”
Their commitment has made them win prestigiousa wards for consecutive years, such as the most innovative firm in continental Europe and, this 2022, the “Using data” award at the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Europe Awards.
We have talked to Francesc Muñoz(CIO), Pascual Boil (Consultancy, Applications & Innovation Manager), Elsa Gómez (ECM Applications Responsible), and Vanesa González (IT Project Manager), Cuatrecasas’ key people in this field.
Cuatrecasas is a law firm in continuous growth (revenue increased 11% between 2020 and 2021, to an astonishing €350M figure). However, the legal services sector is a highly regulated one. Each new client or legal transaction must go through a strict KYC process that involves collecting a lot of highly sensitive data from each client.
Until one year ago, Cuatrecasas’ back-office team and lawyers relied on a manual and time-consuming process to gather all the information required to comply with these regulations.
The process is as follows: The clients contact a partner or a senior lawyer. They decide to entrust the matter to Cuatrecasas. Then, the clock starts ticking.
However, due to the increasing regulation on Anti Money Laundering (AML) policies, the firm could not start working on the new project without passing a thorough KYC check. Starting a business relationship in this sector without these checks can be punished and entails an intolerable risk to Cuatrecasas.
To carry out this process, they would send an email with several attachments containing KYC non-customizable questionnaire in PDF form. Because of its complexity, it involved multiple back-and-forth emails and calls, even paperwork sent by the postal service.
Collecting the right documentation, obtaining complete information, reviewing, printing, and filing paperwork was time-consuming. All this could delay projects’ kick-off for weeks – when, in fact, services were already agreed upon and much needed.
Likewise, the client, who always needs solutions as soon as possible, would get frustrated by all the required information. Often, they would not even know where to find it.
So, this process consumed billable hours for the firm and was a painful experience for new clients from the beginning.
"No matter how hard we tried to prepare a detailed checklist, we never got the right information the first time. It would arrive scattered in different ways and incomplete. Emails and communications were difficult to follow up on, the documentation review was complex, and this process was not scalable. At the end of such process,we did so many follow-ups that we felt we were bothering the client." – Mireia Sánchez, Executive Assistant
Cuatrecasas receives an average of 1,500 new cases every month, most of which require a KYC check, and that number is growing. They needed a solution to support their back-office team and improve their onboarding process to help them scale and keep up with all the work that had to be completed.
Cuatrecasas has a start-up acceleration program in which Parallel participated in its beginnings. Parallel’s CEO Derek, a former tax lawyer in the firm, knew very well the kind of hurdles that processes such as KYC entailed.
"I couldn't have found a better solution on the market than one created by someone who has suffered the same pain. That's why we chose Parallel." – Elsa Gómez, ECM Applications Responsible
It was also critical to facilitate the control and review of all processes, automating the most repetitive tasks so that professionals could free their minds and focus on adding value to their clients. The stakes were high.
In the beginning, there were specific requirements that Parallel did not offer. But again, Cuatrecasas demonstrated its innovative spirit, investing in technology and process improvement to keep growing. With the support of Vanesa as Project Manager at Cuatrecasas, Parallel coordinated during the pilot project to meet expectations and achieve milestones, one by one.
Among others, together with the Cuatrecasas team, we developed new features, improved customization, worked on legal compliance systems and developed integrations.
However, there was hesitation. Both the lawyers nor the back-office team did not have a tech background. Adopting anew system could have been a challenge. Would Parallel give Cuatrecasas everything they needed and, at the same time, be easy to use?
After implementing Parallel, Cuatrecasas’ employees instantly started using it daily with their clients.
"Life before Parallel was a series of uncoordinated and not visible generic KYC checklists and scattered documents. Now everything is organized and super easy to manage. And clients have told me they love it too!" – Mireia Sánchez,Executive Assistant
After implementing Parallel, the back-office team selected to test the tool saw how the hours they spent on this process went from 8 to less than 5 hours per week. These users became Parallel ambassadors within Cuatrecasas and encouraged their colleagues to implement it.
As a result, the average time spent monitoring each KYC process was reduced by 40% for Cuatrecasas’ employees.
They also received positive feedback from their clients, who gained visibility over the KYC process and felt comfortable with their customized client portal.
The reduction of the time invested by the law firm and the facilities that it also entailed for its clients speeded up the closing of the average KYC process by 25% (with some exceptional cases concerning customers who are very resistant to change).
With the transformation of this process, Cuatrecasas has given time back to its professionals so that they can focus on tasks that make a difference and add value to the firm. At the same time, they have put the needs of their clients at the center, improving their communication with them and facilitating their onboarding.