Industry: Legal Tech
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Partnership period: November 2020–Ongoing
Team size: 6–8 experts
Software products delivered: API Platform, web application, mobile application (iOS)
Expertise delivered: Web development services, Mobile development services, Architecture design, infrastructure build (AWS Lambda), API design and engineering, FE development (React), UI/UX design, and requirements development
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LegalShelf, the Mexico city-based innovative LegalTech provider, was looking to optimize their mission-critical mobile application, intended to enable secure and comprehensive legal interactions between the company’s B2B clients.
The company was dissatisfied with their mobile app’s performance that severely hampered their customer acquisition and market expansion. In their search for an optimal solution, the company got referred to SPD Group by a business associate of ours, who was with our company’s another client and was well-acquainted with our company’s ability to solve complex software development challenges.
After our experts had gotten familiar with the client’s expectations and the capabilities of their mobile application, jointly with the client they arrived at the conclusion the existing solution could not be optimized well enough to support the client’s business goals. It was thus decided to develop from scratch a new LegalTech solution, composed of a Web application and a mobile app. The client entrusted the entirety of the project to SPD Group.
The functionality of the client’s solution
LegalShelf’s new B2B LegalTech solution is a complex software platform that allows their clients to comprehensively and securely manage and exchange legal documents. The solution comprises the following functional areas:
- A digital library with simple and advanced search
- Document Management
- Simple and advanced document-signing process
- Tasks Management
- Roles Management
The platform allows accordingly authorized users to:
- Create and store various legal documents in the client’s digital library.
- Make a search for legal documents, stored in the digital library (including by using such metadata, as Names, Tags, Descriptions, Participants, and time period).
- Invite various process actors, including those of their company’s counterparts, to collaborate on legal documents.
- Sign legal documents using Advanced Electronic Signatures (via an integration with Mifel), as well as submit them for signature by colleagues and counterparts.
- Track various events within legal documents, such as, for instance, their expiration date.
- Add metadata to a legal document (including Name, Type, Subtype, Set of dates, Tags, and Description).
- Add attachments to legal documents.
- Manage Participants and Signers for a legal document.
- Set and receive notifications related to legal documents and events within them and push notifications.
The client’s system allows collaborating on legal documents in real time, and uses strong encryption for all the document-related operations. The solution also makes it possible to share documents with external process actors by inviting the latter as guests on a temporary basis. The task management functionality of the client’s solution allows creating tasks and assigning them to other users. The user can create tasks that are related to the document’s signature, renewal, or the updating of the information it contains. Any of the tasks can be assigned a reminder date, so that the appropriate person(s) will be notified when the task becomes due.
To enable full-value user interactions within the platform, Legalshelf’s solution provides a complex user role hierarchy with different access rights for the different user roles. Presently, these user roles include:
- Super Admin – a Legal Shelf expert with full access to all the companies in the platform’s database and their digital libraries.
- Full-Access User – a user with full rights for a specific client company in the system.
- Document Manager – a Legal Shelf expert who helps Client Users manage their documents and supports the document-signing process.
- Client Admin – a user with the permissions to manage file access for the Client Users and Guests of a specific company.
- Client User – a user with access rights for some specific folders and legal documents within their company’s digital library.
- Guest – a user with temporary, view-only access to some specific folders and legal documents that are made available to them via an invite. Guests can sign legal documents when they are assigned to them as a Signer.
- Signer – a project actor that has been invited to take part in processing a legal document on a temporary basis (possibly, from outside the system).
To provide signing of legal documents, the system automatically uses MIFIEL, the recognized Latin-American e-signature provider. The system is available in three languages – English, Portuguese, and Spanish.
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To implement the project, SPD Group put together a project team that at the different phases of the project included 6-8 experts. In addition to the PM, software developers, and one QA engineer, the team also included a software architect during the project’s initial phase, and a business analyst through the project’s duration.
The project started in the fall of 2020 and has been ongoing ever since. We started by collecting and analyzing the requirements for the system, and have proactively helped optimally shape the client’s product.
It took our project team 1 year and 3 months to design the architecture of, develop, and deliver all the planned functionality. The solution successfully went live in the summer of 2022. Currently, our experts are enhancing the functionality we’ve delivered previously, in particular, by adding advanced text recognition and other NLP/AI та Machine Learning functions.
In implementing the project, we’ve solved several noteworthy challenges. For example, in order to comply with the client requirement to integrate the platform with a local electronic signature provider, our project team had to establish contact with a Mexican eSignature company and interact with them directly.
Also, we’ve once had to deliver part of the solution’s functionality against a very tight business-related deadline.
It took our project team around 3 months to build a Cloud service for Legal Shelf. One can access the company’s Cloud service through Web and PWA for the digital signature, storage, tagging, and search of legal documents.
In implementing the project, SPD Group’s project team has been using the following tech stack:
- Infrastructure: AWS (Amazon Web Services) Lambda, RDS, S3, CloudFront, SES, GitHub Actions, Terraform
- Back-end: Java, Quarkus with GraalVM, Hibernate, PostgreSQL
- Front-end: TypeScript, React
- Mobile: TypeScript, React Native, Expo
- Authentication: Auth0
Our team opted for a serverless solution that uses AWS Lambda for the following reasons:
- Using AWS Lambda ensures a high availability and out-of-the-box scalability.
- AWS Lambda’s versioning support allows easy deployment.
- Service charges are levied only for the resources used when requests are running. Thus, the development and testing can be done with little to no cost in terms of the computing resources.
As the backend, we chose PostgreSQL as it was a great fit that provides both OLTP and OLAP functionality. For the storing of documents, contracts, and the eSignature’s provider’s metadata, we decided to use AWS S3 (Simple Storage Service), as it offers secure and durable storage with quick access.
Migrating data from the client’s legacy storage to their new one posed a significant challenge due to the difficulties in mapping the legacy data models and the magnitude of the client’s data.
To overcome these difficulties, we intensified the communication with the client and devised an automatic script that has proven to be extremely effective. Using this automatic script eliminated a lot of the related hassle and expedited the data migration process very significantly.
Developing the new mission-critical software solution has allowed LegalShelf to significantly strengthen and dramatically expand their business presence on their national market.
Implementing the solution has increased LegalShelf’s customer base by around 30-40% (around 20+ enterprise clients), and created significant cost savings to the client. The new solution has brought limitless scalability. Additionally, it has also rendered LegalShelf’s services a great deal less expensive for the company’s clients.
At present, LegalShelf’s solution is used by some 50+ enterprise сlients to manage around 800,000 legal documents. It represents the most innovative digital solution for document management in Latin America, and is used by leading enterprise companies, including the Latin-American branch of IBM.
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