When we think about industries that are quick to adopt technology, we usually don’t consider the legal industry.
After all, law firms tend to be laggards. A recent study revealed that 80% of lawyers don’t record time on a mobile device, and nearly one-third of firms are using a version of Word that’s seven or more years old. Yikes.
As expected, the luddite approach comes at a cost. Firms quick to embrace and adopt technology report increased profitably compared to those who don’t, leading to significant performance gaps.
But there is one technology that legal firms aren’t reluctant to adopt: intranet software.
Few industries rely on the quick discovery of information as fast as legal firms—which is partly why many law firms are seeking out intranet software to assist them in managing their knowledge. Every organization strives to be productive, but when your productivity is billable, it’s a whole different level.
Modern intranets are a great way to manage knowledge because they enable quick access to large quantities of information. As an innovation hub, intranets serve as a collaborative platform that makes information easily discoverable.
But the benefits of intranets go beyond knowledge management, Law firms adopting intranet technology are reaping a multitude of other benefits. In the 2019 Law Firms in Transition survey, 78% of the firms that created a more collaborative culture say that improved collaboration has resulted in improved firm performance.
Donna Coburn, Knowledge Management Content Administrator for Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP recently talked to us about how their ThoughtFarmer intranet is benefitting their North American firm:
Why is it important for legal firms to have an intranet?
A law firm intranet serves as a one-stop-shop for legal firms, hosting everything from calendar events, forms, policies, precedents, dedicated practice groups, news, and announcements.
Our intranet, infoDavies, gives us instant access to regularly updated documents like legal precedents without having to dig through multiple systems and thanks to the intranet search functionality, users can find this information quickly. The ongoing engagement of real time comments on documentation has proven to be valuable. For example, many of our lawyers within their practice group pages are posting shout-outs/comments on specific precedents for the benefit of future users.
Meanwhile, collaboration spaces within the intranet allow our users to brainstorm, share insights, and jointly work together. Easier collaboration also means reduced email volume. Law firms also depend heavily on forms. An intranet can consolidate these forms into one place, online.
In what ways has an intranet helped you in your job?
Having content owners take responsibility for updating and maintaining their content, department pages, and practice pages, ensures that the information is kept current and accurate. The content is never stale and the intranet is continually evolving.
And because our intranet has analytics, we can easily monitor the pages with the most/least traffic, see which pages require more tags or need the “Best Bets” feature based on the users’ search terms.
Our intranet has also created a team atmosphere, as we all feel connected and more engaged in our work and with each other across all three of our offices.
What features are important for legal firms when researching intranet software?
For us, the ability to securely hyperlink externally and internally to our firm’s server has been extremely important. Same with compatibility to use more than one browser.
We also appreciate the option to lock down, or secure pages, to specific audiences and users. The site is secure and ensures that only those with specific permissions can access the various sections.
Having software that is intuitive and easy to use, as well as the ability to train other members at the firm are equally important. And because we can sync to our Active Directory, it is easier and more secure to manage users, seamlessly.
On a regular basis, ThoughtFarmer provides tutorials and documentation prior to each upgrade. We have found this very valuable; especially helpful are the Release Notes which introduce new features or bug fixes.
Additionally, the ability to link to Twitter feeds, RSS feeds and have a news carousel, keeps our homepage dynamic and encourages intranet adoption.
Do you have some examples where the intranet has been impactful for your organization?
Since we’ve launched less than a year ago, our intranet has really transformed and grown!
We have interactive floor plan maps on our intranet that allow users to find the location of an individual firm-wide.
We have also implemented several customizations including an English/French toggle, a Read & Acknowledge card and other specially designed cards with modifications specific to our firm’s needs.
Our calendar RSVP cards and reports have been beneficial because they allow us to track the exact number of attendees and responses for upcoming events.
Our law firm intranet also does a nice job of showcasing our legal talent, as well as various social activities.
Finally, more and more people have requested training on our intranet and have expressed an interest in posting their own content. This illustrates exactly what we had hoped to achieve in encouraging firm engagement and inclusion.
Have questions? Get in touch! We're always happy to hear from you.
September 12, 2019