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Getting on the same page — how technology can foster collaboration at your law firm

In all legal interactions and transactions, clients are calling for increased transparency. Gone are the days when clients, with few questions and little to no oversight, blindly trusted their firm to resolve a legal matter. Today, clients have ready access to a variety of information and technologies and feel empowered to question the status-quo. They want clear answers with regard to the cost, progress, metrics and expected outcomes.

To succeed in this evolving legal marketplace, firms must take steps to not only deliver on, but to exceed, clients’ expectations. If this seems like a tall order—it is, and some firms that previously enjoyed success are losing out to competitors.

While firms recognize they need to change, many struggle to scrutinize their business models to identify inconsistencies and inefficiencies that are impeding change and progress. Even firms that have turned to legal project management (LPM) systems as a means to improve and streamline business processes haven’t always been able to live up to clients’ expectations. While LPM systems can aid greatly in improving efficiency, they often fall short in addressing three of the long-standing challenges plaguing law firms, specifically how to:

  • Capture and leverage legal knowledge and know-how
  • Create real-time project workflows and status updates
  • Gain and share insight into matter/project budget and cost specs

The solution? An integrated workflow solution that includes an internal cloud portal. Below we’ll explore how law firms can use internal cloud portals to address each of these key challenges.

Capturing and leveraging legal knowledge and know-how

Attending law school and passing the bar are only the first steps in the journey to become a productive and effective attorney. The real groundwork is laid on the job and building that knowledge and experience-base often takes decades. Rather than allowing young associates to flounder for years, law firms can utilize internal cloud portal capabilities to harness and share the know-how of more seasoned attorneys

Via an internal cloud portal, attorneys can exchange ideas freely, draft, and share legal documents and create and contribute to secure practice and knowledge bases. This free exchange of information and ideas can significantly boost a firm’s intellectual capital, which in turn should translate to higher revenue and profits.

Creating real-time project workflows and status updates

Lawyers are adept at interpreting and applying laws to help clients plan for, navigate, and overcome a range of complex issues. This is the world in which they thrive and excel. Many attorneys don’t, however, have an interest in or natural aptitude for managing their time against those professional commitments. Pulling documents together for discovery ends up taking longer than expected, depositions require more time to prepare, and court dates are pushed. While some delays are inevitable, having a clear overview of each matter and the associated steps, tasks, and requirements can help attorneys and support staff be more proactive and productive.

Having the ability to track and report on projects in real-time provides everyone involved the perspective needed to prioritize and, when necessary, shift focus. Unforeseen developments are a constant in the legal field and internal cloud portals provide attorneys access to critical information while at the office, in court, or even from the comfort of their own homes.

Gaining and sharing insight into matter/project budget and cost specs

In law firms, there are those who concentrate on practicing law and those who focus on managing the business. Historically, the two sides of a legal practice have been at odds, with attorneys consumed by the day-to-day management of legal matters and the back office concentrated on the numbers and a firm’s financial performance.

Internal cloud portals in conjunction with LPM systems can be used to set budgets, track time, invoice clients, and ultimately obtain a bigger picture of the factors affecting a firm’s bottom line. Providing stakeholders throughout a firm access to financial data helps ensure that everyone is on the same page in their understanding of what it takes to achieve fiscal success.

Whether law firms like it or not, the legal landscape is changing. Firms that embrace a modern business model and leverage technology to address these three fundamental issues can reap the benefits.

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