Choosing the right technology partner to help your firm grow

A business woman and business man shake hands at the office

Market disruptions and global concerns — including the COVID-19 pandemic, security issues, and technological complexity — can impede the growth and success of law firms, especially when a firm doesn’t have the right technology in place. During a recent Intapp Insights event, representatives from Intapp and our client firms discussed the need for technology providers and partners to provide law firms with the following:

  • Cloud adoption drivers without compromising law firm specificity
  • Solutions tailored for the legal industry that specifically address law firm challenges
  • Product interoperability to enable connected people, processes, and data
  • Innovations with minimal uplift and business interruptions

Check out the ways our clients have leveraged Intapp technology to migrate to the cloud, improve collaboration, and position themselves for future success.

Support growth, compliance, and collaboration

Bird & Bird’s journey with Intapp began in 2010 when the firm purchased Intapp Wallbuilder, now known as Intapp Walls, which allowed Bird & Bird to automate the creation and maintenance of information barriers. As the firm continued to grow, its leaders realized they needed to promote security and compliance even further; in 2020, the firm invested in what is now known as OnePlace Risk & Compliance, an Intapp suite, to help improve conflicts clearance, mitigate risk, and ensure compliance throughout the client lifecycle.

That same year, Bird & Bird also decided to invest in another Intapp product to support its professionals: Intapp Time. Intapp Time lets fee earners actively or passively capture their hours to the cloud, and offers a mobile app so lawyers can capture their hours anytime, anywhere.

“We very much like the ability to automatically create time, because as we know, no one likes to fill in a time sheet,” said Karen Jacks, Chief Technology Officer at Bird & Bird. She explained how quickly and easily the firm was able to adopt the product: “[When] you’re giving your fee earners a nicer-looking product that does more, it makes it much easier to [promote] engagement.”

In addition to the firm’s growth, Bird & Bird faced a completely new challenge: the COVID-19 pandemic. Firm leaders recognized the need to move away from on-premises systems; however, they also had to consider regulatory jurisdictional issues and product integration before migrating to the cloud.

Knowing that cloud migration is one of the biggest challenges for firms, Intapp and Microsoft have formed a strategic partnership to accelerate cloud adoption, support the connected firm vision, and drive the market transformation of legal services. Intapp and Microsoft offer interoperable, cloud-based products to help streamline workflow. OnePlace Marketing & Business Development, for example, offers a Microsoft Outlook add-in that allows you to seamlessly sync data without having to switch applications.

For these reasons, Bird & Bird decided to implement OnePlace Marketing & Business Development as its CRM and Microsoft OneDrive for Business as its DMS. The firm plans to go live with both products soon, and, as Jacks explained, firm leaders expect to see an improvement in workflow and collaboration.

Break data silos and increase transparency

Bird & Bird wasn’t the only firm seeking to improve its collaboration using Intapp solutions. Like many law firms, Plesner struggled with data silos and lack of transparency, and its legal professionals were often storing information using multiple applications, including personal documents or spreadsheets — making difficult for their colleagues to locate the latest, most relevant data.

“If people only have access to the information and data they put into the system, they can only see what they already know,” explained Claus Egholm Nielsen, Chief Information Officer at Plesner. Investing in an open model CRM can remove these data silos and ensure that information is stored and easily accessible in a single system. That’s why Plesner adopted OnePlace Marketing & Business Development.

OnePlace Marketing & Business Development provides transparency into all client and matter data, allowing professionals to better collaborate and share information with one another. The software also offers tear sheet reports to present this information in a more digestible way. This transparency, Nielsen says, has helped Plesner improve client satisfaction.

“We help [one another] shine in the eyes of the client, because when a lawyer comes out with all that knowledge [from the tear sheet], that person seems well-prepared and invested in the client,” Nielsen said. “And it’s with the help of all the colleagues in the office.”

Before your firm selects a new CRM, Nielsen recommends that you bring in your board of directors early in the planning stage, and include them and all your teams on reference calls. This way, Nielsen explained, you’ll get a variety of perspectives, ideas, and concerns that you can address before any major decisions are made. You’ll also help to ensure that all management teams are aligned with your plan to migrate your data to the cloud, and that this migration plan addresses GDPR and compliance issues.

“We called in one of the Big Four to do a security assessment of the [Intapp] OnePlace platform,” Nielsen said. Once the assessment was complete, Plesner’s management and board members approved the platform, and the firm was able to move forward with its implementation plan.

Manage matters and risk

When selecting new matter management systems, firms must ensure that the technology can meet their many expectations, especially around risk and collaboration. Amasis Saba, Senior Business Intake and Advisory Manager at DLA Piper, explained that most modern firms want their systems to:

  • Run a detailed business analysis with the minimum number of questions required
  • Integrate with existing systems and be easy for IT to maintain
  • Seamlessly consider end-to-end matter lifecycle through the lens of different departments
  • Store all the information required from the matter partner without involving the matter partner
  • Serve as an originator or editor for the firm’s data, not as a system of record

Some of these issues can be solved quickly and easily; for example, as Saba explained, firms can simply cut some of the client form questions to save their clients time and to reduce the amount of inaccurate information they receive.

“[If] the business acceptance team is going to check it, don’t ask the [clients],” Saba said. Saba revealed that — as former Head of Business Acceptance for U.K., CE, and MENA at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer — he helped Freshfields remove form fields that its teams could find the answers to, such as client industry and address.

Other issues on this list can be solved by investing in the right technology, as was the case for the firm Brachers. “We wanted to minimize data input, maximize automation, [and] minimize duplication of efforts,” said Thomas Hall, COO of Brachers. “[Our vision was to] leverage the capabilities of our systems and join them up so that one system doesn’t do everything.” To achieve this vision, Brachers invested in connected firm technology.

Connected firm technology stores information from multiple applications in a single source of truth. People from different teams can add, access, and edit data directly within the system — or, if the system integrates with other tools such as Microsoft 365, the data will seamlessly sync and be available within the system. This not only saves professionals time when trying to find information, but also ensures that everyone has access to the latest and most accurate data, thereby lowering potential errors and risk.

Systems like OnePlace Collaboration & Compliance that integrate with Microsoft 365 also promote higher user satisfaction rates, as Thomas Hall, COO of Brachers, confirmed. “Our lawyers work in [Microsoft] Outlook and Word,” Hall said, explaining how the interface of both programs are user-friendly and easy to use. Convincing lawyers to give up these tools and learn a completely new system can be difficult; luckily, with OnePlace Collaboration & Content, firms don’t have to. “[With OnePlace Collaboration & Content], [lawyers can] work with an environment they’re very familiar with,” Hall said.

Your firm must also ensure that the technology it’s investing in can meet requirements — such as GDPR, outside counsel guidelines (OCGs), and alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) — based on where your firm and clients are located. “In our organization, [AFAs change] significantly from country to country,” Jacks said.

To mitigate these requirements, firms can leverage technology like Intapp Terms, which enforces keys terms, OCGs, and other requirements within Intapp OnePlace products. When used with Intapp Time, for example, fee earners can remain confident that their hours are in compliance before billing their clients for their work. “[Intapp Time and Intapp Terms] ultimately reduce write-offs because you’re less likely to have bill disputes,” explained Alan Conway, Practice Group Leader, Operations and Finance.

Watch the event recordings below to learn more about how Intapp OnePlace can connect your firm’s people, process, and data — all within the cloud.