Legal Tech

What is the Left Hand Doing?

Ogilvy, Cope, Porteous, Montgomery, Renault, Clarke & Kirkpatrick was the first law firm that I worked for. It is now known as Norton Rose Fulbright.  The law firm where I spent most of my career was once called Pallett, Valo, Barsky, Kuzmarov & Keel. It is now Pallett Valo LLP.

What is with all of the name shortening? It has something to do with branding. The idea is to project to clients that the firm is a single entity, and that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

To a large extent it just ain’t so. Law firms are comprised of individual lawyers, often tenuously held together for the moment because their self-interests happen to align. One of the corollaries of this truth is that communication within a law firm is not always stellar. And when internal communication suffers, mistakes happen and opportunities are missed.

For example, the real estate department handles the sale of a house but does not communicate the new address to the corporate department. The house was the residence address of a director and the registered office address of a corporation. Nobody updates the filings. The director whose house was sold does not receive important correspondence. Bad things happen. The client is unamused.

The client wants to know why the law firm did not update its records when it handled the damn real estate transaction. Cue unhappy clients, negligence claims and other bad stuff.

Or perhaps poor communication results in lost opportunities to impress clients.  Let’s take the example of a firm which drafts wills. It starts each new client engagement by sending an information questionnaire. If the request is made of a long-standing client, the client might be impressed if the questionnaire is pre-populated with information from the real estate department about which properties the client owns and from the corporate department about the companies in which the client own shares.  Perhaps the client has invested in mortgages and that information can also be pre-populated. Or maybe the client is recently divorced (the firm having handled the domestic reorganization) and the questionnaire asks the appropriate questions for that situation.

But in many law firms this type of communication is not going to happen, and the client will be left with the impression that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing at their lawyer’s office.

What if the law firm’s information technology systems talked to each other? How many problems would that solve, and what types of opportunities for better client service would that present? Doesn’t it seem kind of obvious that this is the direction in which legal tech should be headed?

Appara thinks so.  Check out information about their new platform here:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *