Are Law Firms Ready for Transparency? an article by V. Mary Abraham published September 12, 2009 on LLRX.com describes an innovation in client communication and work product.

Transparency is one of those stock business phrases that seems to answer customer clamoring and digital expectations.  Technology can take transparency from the wish list to the implementation schedule.

Extranets have been a client service offering in large law firms for quite some time.  They have operated, similarly to CRM in law firms, in a black hole of interactiveness. This Connect tool takes extranets from the  black hole of Web 1.0 to a Web 3.0 web service.

I was impressed by a few key things in the description of Malleson’s Connect tool.Connecting Bright Ideas

  1. The tool was developed, shared with the clients and re-done in collaboration with clients.
  2. An emphasis has been given to real-time updates.
  3. With Work-in-Progress discussions Malleson’s has set expectations.

The success of this client services  tool can probably be attributed to the realistic expectations (technology does have limits) and clearly defined expectations.

Law firms are shaking the tree of business processes and embracing the tools and nature of today’s dynamic, collaborative, interactive technology.  Will all firms embrace tools that provide their clients with insider information about the work being done?  Some will, others won’t and the majority will probably pick and choose the information that they expose. Is that different from any other business?  Probably not.

The wisdom in using technology to connect with clients in an open manner really comes down to business values.  Working with a client, instead of for a client certainly makes it harder to break relations.  Innovative firms will benefit from a broad view of how technology and a shift in business practices will improve client services and build customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Of course excellence will be the deciding factor in that client satisfaction.  If you open the view into your work, be sure that within the limits and expectations you define, your work is of the high quality your clients pay for.  Otherwise, you’ve shot yourself in the foot while loading the gun.

Constance Ard September 22, 2009