Rukayatu “Ruky” Tijani is the Founder of Firm for the Culture, a Sacramento-based firm providing trademark services for social enterprises and entrepreneurs. One of the first investments Ruky made in her firm was a subscription to Alt Legal. However, as her portfolio grew, Ruky's budget changed and she reluctantly decided to cancel her subscription with Alt Legal and signed on with a lower-cost docketing software vendor. However, after switching to the lower-cost docketing software, Ruky felt very dissatisfied with the software's lack of automation, ease of use, and innovation. After just a few months, Ruky returned to Alt Legal. Hear from this tech-driven, Silicon Valley-inspired attorney about why Alt Legal is superior to lower-cost docketing software alternatives.
Founder | Firm for the Culture
Rukayatu “Ruky” Tijani is the Founder of Firm for the Culture, a Sacramento-based firm providing trademark services for social enterprises and entrepreneurs. Ruky draws on her experience as a Silicon Valley-based litigation associate at top firms including Quinn Emanuel; Ropes & Gray; and Kilpatrick, Townsend & Stockton to provide outstanding service at accessible flat-fee prices.
Ruky is inspired by the tech-driven entrepreneurs she’s encountered in Silicon Valley and really focused on selecting the right technology to serve her busy and growing practice. When Ruky started her practice in 2019, one of the first investments she made was subscribing to Alt Legal. “I knew we were going to grow and expand quickly, which is why I invested in Alt Legal.”
“I’m a tech person and I’m constantly looking for ways to streamline my workflow while remaining client-centric. If the tech tools I use don’t align with that mission and value, then it’s not a tech tool I will be invested in for the long run.”
After spending a few years building her practice and growing her trademark portfolio, she saw that the monthly costs for her Alt Legal subscription were going to increase as she reached a new threshold of matters. Even though Alt Legal’s pricing is simple, straightforward, and has no hidden fees, Ruky found herself in a tough spot and wanted to try a lower-priced competitor. “The jump in price didn’t correlate with my jump in revenue generation, so I knew I had to consider other options to optimize my budget.” Ruky reluctantly decided to cancel her subscription with Alt Legal and sign on with a lower-cost docketing software vendor.
However, just a few months after signing on with her new IP docketing software company, Ruky switched gears and decided to come back to Alt Legal. Hear about Ruky’s experience with a lower-cost IP docketing software vendor and why she ultimately knew that returning to Alt Legal was the best choice for her, her firm, and her clients.
Lower Cost IP Docketing Software – At What Cost?
Ruky was incentivized to switch from Alt Legal to a different, lower-cost IP docketing software vendor simply due to her firm’s budget. However, once she became acquainted with the software features and user experience, she was highly disappointed. Overall, Ruky found the software difficult to navigate and frustrating to learn. “I don’t think any tech tool comes without its level of orientation, but it was relatively hard to navigate that system. It took a lot of time to orient myself to the platform, and it was very frustrating to learn.” Ruky acknowledged that even after several months of using the new software, she still didn’t feel up to speed or fully comfortable using the system.
Once she got through the initial training and began using the software at her firm, Ruky identified several issues with the software and company itself that encouraged her to switch back to Alt Legal. For Ruky, the most significant problem with this software was not fully automated and required manual touches throughout the trademark prosecution process. In particular, Ruky noted that she would have to check a box each time she filed an extension to file a Statement of Use. If she didn’t check the box, the system would fail to trigger new deadlines. “I knew that this was going to be a huge problem as I expanded to more and more matters. Even though at first glance this appears benign, each time I had to check the box took a small amount of time and analysis—and it’s not billable. Doing this task over and over again for all of my matters contributes to decision fatigue.” Adding to the challenge, the software was only available as a desktop version, so Ruky could only do this manual, labor-intensive work while she was seated at her desk, restricting her ability to work more flexibly. “Before I knew it, my docket had a backlog, and this had become a huge pain point for me.”
In stark contrast, Ruky remembered that Alt Legal automatically adjusts deadlines whenever she files an extension to file the Statement of Use, so she reached out to her software provider and asked if that was something they could build into the system. “I asked customer service if there was a way to automate this task, and they said no. At that point, I knew I’d made my decision to go back to Alt Legal.”
Lower-Priced Docketing Software Lacked Ease-of-Use
Ruky found the lack of automation with her new IP docketing software to be incredibly disappointing. It was also frustrating that the system was not at all easy to use and caused a lot of wasted time. “Unfortunately, this system did not appear simple or streamlined. Even before I began handling a particular matter, I had to expend not only time, but also mental energy to orient myself with the platform.” This really slowed Ruky down and made it difficult for her to find the information she was looking for quickly and efficiently. “I’m at a point in my life where I need things to be simple and streamlined. If a software vendor can’t make their system simple and streamlined, I don’t want it.”
On the other hand, Ruky felt that the Alt Legal user experience was exceptional. “Alt Legal is a lot easier. I don’t even have to go into the system to know what’s going on with my trademarks. I get daily emails that provide me with updates and upcoming deadlines. This is really helpful to me!” Having so much experience and facility with legal technology, Ruky understands that the purpose of all IP docketing systems is to present data to the end user in a way that is helpful. “IP docketing software is essentially a glorified spreadsheet. But the vendor’s ability to translate that into user experience, making it more streamlined and aesthetically pleasing is what helps vendors stand out. This was a sticking point with my other software vendor: they have a long way to go whereas Alt Legal has run miles ahead of them.”
“There’s a lot of data to crawl the USPTO for. The question is: how are you presenting that data to the user? Can you do it in a way where they don’t have to expend a lot of brain energy to understand what they’re looking at? Lawyers, and particularly founders and CEOs, make hundreds of decisions a day and having to make even one more decision each day can really slow you down.”
For Ruky, the user experience is important because it impacts her ability to use technology efficiently and frustration-free, but even more significant to Ruky is her belief that user experience is essential to ensure access to justice. “I’m a Silicon Valley-based attorney, and one of the privileges I have is that I work with a lot of people thinking about user experience. They’re thinking about how they can make technology more agile, smarter, faster, and better. Coming from this world and entering a field like law that is really anachronistic, it’s clear to me that if lawyers are using archaic technology, they are not providing access to justice. From the beginning of a client relationship starting with acquisition, if clients can’t easily book an appointment online, that’s not access to justice. In general, the user experience is something that is more important than the provision of actual service.”
Beyond the Software Itself, Customer Service and Company Structure Matter
Beyond the IP docketing software not performing up to her expectations, Ruky recognized that the software vendor itself was not aligned with her business needs. As the founder of her own firm, Ruky has taken a more forward-thinking approach to selecting technology for her firm. “When I look at other tech tools, beyond the features, I examine the company itself. I want to understand where the company is and where they’re going because a lot of my firm infrastructure is going to rely on my vendors being agile.”
As Ruky began working more closely with the vendor, she recognized that the team was quite small, “As nice and quick as this company was with their correspondence, it soon became apparent to me that there were very few team members. If anything were to happen to one of those team members, I don’t know how I would get my questions answered. That’s not something I can rely on when I continue to scale and grow my firm.”
Ruky felt confident that Alt Legal had the ability to serve her present and future needs. She has found that Alt Legal has consistently been able to respond to her requests. “Alt Legal has an amazing team that works in sync with each other. They have the ability to be agile, work together, and do research and development to continually improve their software.” Additionally, Ruky has found that Alt Legal’s customer service team is incredibly reliable and responsive. “With Alt Legal, I feel very reassured knowing I can email anyone on the team, and someone will respond to me, whether it’s customer support or even the CEO.” In fact, this level of customer support has inspired Ruky at her firm. “I realize that I need to provide the same level of service at my firm. I want to have someone pick up where I left off if I want to take a vacation, or get sick, or simply don’t wish to handle a particular task! At the moment when I switched back to Alt Legal, I also informed my team that I would be hiring another team member to ensure that our client support is at the highest level.”
The Alt Legal Community, A Priceless Addition to Alt Legal’s Docketing Software
When Ruky initially subscribed to Alt Legal, she was excited to join the Alt Legal Community. “Alt Legal is more than docketing software. I feel like I am part of a community that is bigger than me.” She described meeting and connecting with Alt Legal’s CEO at a ClioCon conference before she even became a subscriber, “We have a similar background: both of us went to top law schools, worked at BigLaw, and both decided that wasn’t for us and we wanted to be more entrepreneurial in spirit. It was the CEO’s background that attracted me to the business before I even saw the software.”
“When I met the whole Alt Legal team and Alt Legal Community, I knew this was a community worth investing in. The thing that makes Alt Legal continue to stand out is that Alt Legal is bigger than a docketing software company; it’s a community that I feel privileged to be part of.”
Soon after Ruky signed up for Alt Legal, she started taking full advantage of being part of the Alt Legal Community. She signed up to receive the I ♡ Trademarks Newsletter, Alt Legal’s weekly, pun-filled newsletter containing the latest updates in IP and trademark law. She attended webinars and learned about topics including cryptocurrency and advanced TESS searches. She was inspired to present a webinar herself and delivered an extremely popular and well-received webinar about the Trademark Modernization Act and wrote a related article for the Alt Legal Blog. Then, she was a featured speaker at Alt Legal Connect, where she delivered a session about office action refusals.
When Ruky initially cancelled her subscription to Alt Legal, she saw the real power and pull of the Alt Legal Community. Being a “card-carrying” member of the Alt Legal Community and after having worked with many members of the Alt Legal team, Ruky felt a genuine reaction from the team. “When I left Alt Legal, I heard from many members of the team who I had gotten to know over the years. They encouraged me not to leave Alt Legal, which really made me pause and think.”
While Ruky made a tough decision to leave Alt Legal for budgetary reasons, the Alt Legal Community and connections that Ruky had made with the Alt Legal team stayed close to her. “I knew I was not leaving the Alt Legal Community. I just needed to figure out what works best for my budget. But I knew that if the other docketing software didn’t align with my goals of being agile, streamlined, and simple, I would happily come back to Alt Legal.”
And that’s exactly what happened. We couldn’t be happier to have Ruky back as a customer at Alt Legal!
IP docketing software can be expensive, but Alt Legal works very hard to provide a technologically advanced, innovative system at a reasonable cost. Nevertheless, there may still be alternative IP docketing software vendors who are willing to beat our prices. Lower-cost docketing software may be available—but at what cost?
As Ruky explained, a low-cost docketing software provider delivered a system that was not fully automated, which sucked up time (and mental energy) in her day. Moreover, the system was unintuitive and difficult to use, making docketing unnecessarily frustrating. She also noted that the vendor was not at all innovative in its approach to developing and improving the software. IP docketing software requires a tremendous amount of effort, knowledge, time, and money to develop, and IP docketing software vendors must work research and development and team growth into the cost of a subscription. If a vendor is offering particularly low-cost docketing software, one of the reasons why the cost may be so low is because the vendor is not investing money into improving the software.
Also completely missing from the low-cost docketing software provider: the Alt Legal Community. While the Alt Legal Community is open to all, our subscribers feel a real sense of kinship in the Alt Legal Community as they subscribe not only to our docketing software, but also our mission of creating a community for trademark practitioners to come together, share resources, network, and improve as professionals and human beings.