Sunday, August 21, 2005

Hyperlink link fields

One of the more useful types of fields in a legal extranet is a field which we call a "hyperlink" field. What exactly is this? It is a field whose primary purpose is to provide a direct link to another website of interest. The use of this field allows us to extend the utility of our legal extranet systems beyond the rich set of capabilities we provide and into the entire universe of useful content of interest related to a particular litigation which resides on the internet.

The intelligent use and deployment of these "hyperlink" fields allows our law firm extranet systems to be hybrid systems -- partly comprised of our case management/task tracking/calendar/document functional areas -- and partly comprised of a set of related publicly available internet-based content.

Friday, August 19, 2005

2005 - Client Relations Goals

Is one of your law firm's goals for 2005 to improve client relations between your law firm and your key clients? If so, perhaps it would be worthwhile to consider setting up a law firm extranet / client portal site for each and every key client.

With this completed, your law firm would be poised to instantly provide any client with services such as sharing matter management information, document sharing, joint management and publishing of case calendars and task lists, publishing of case contact sheets and bulletin boards, and perhaps also other areas where one could collaborate with a client.

By providing this type of law firm extranet service to all key clients, it is easy for a law firm to differentiate themselves from other competitors who might not be providing this service to all clients. And, by doing this, a firm can also highlight with an externally facing application that they use information technology as a key business driver to deliver superior representation at the lowest possible costs to all of their clients.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Extranet - Build vs. Buy (continued)

Should one build or buy an extranet system?

Estimate Volumes and Usage

Obviously, building a law firm extranet or legal extranet system internally requires a considerable investment. Some of the many costs are project management, programming, software licenses, hardware, the creation of an internet zone if one does not exist at your firm, and resources to test and support the system once it is finished. One would hope and assume that a project team charged with such a project would have a defined project budget against which actual expenses are tracked, thus making the cost of such a project easy to understand.

Offsetting these costs is the value and revenue a successful implementation of a system to a client delivers to a law firm. The more implementations, the more value. And, the more uses (or vertical markets) a legal extranet (litigation support, project management, client portal, etc.) targets, the more usage potential exists.

So, those facts being stated, a simple estimation of the benefits a law firm extranet system will deliver to a law firm requires one to follow a formula somewhat like the following:

(Average number of implementations per client) x (Number of clients a firm expects to deploy a collaboration system to) x (estimated value per implementation) = Total project value.

Of course, one could make this more sophisticated by including other factors (factors such as the time value of money, estimating the amount of new legal business this capability might bring to the firm, estimating increased client retention rates this new capability will bring to your firm)