Innovative law firms are starting to use Client Extranets – a website where both the firms’ lawyers and their clients can collaborate and discuss important matters.  In this blog post, we’ll explore 5 business benefits and 5 technical benefits of a Client Extranet.

Reason 1 – Stay on the Same Page

One of the most common complaints about using email to collaborate is there is not a single place that you can go to understand what has been agreed upon.  The Extranet becomes that place.

Reason 2 – Sell Additional Services

Use your Client Extranet as a marketing platform in coordination with your website to market additional services.  Some firms create a central place on the Extranet that any logged-in user can see – use this area to market your services.

Reason 3 – Improve Billing Communication and Transparency

An Extranet is a place where you can communicate billing – allow clients to log in at any time to check billings and build trust with clients.

Reason 4 – No More Huge Attachments

Use the Client Extranet to store documents.  Send links to documents on the extranet and stop clogging up your client’s inbox with the huge attachments.

Reason 5 – Increase Client Loyalty

When you set up a place on your extranet for collaboration, it becomes more and more valuable over time.   You have context for decisions made and important correspondence captured.  This helps to solidify your services and keep loyal clients.

Doug Horton, CEO of Handshake Software Inc., leads a company that focuses on SharePoint solutions for the legal industry. “The demands put on the modern law firm by their clients to deliver high-quality legal services, faster, cheaper and 24/7 is straining older technologies, established workflows and law firm systems.  Having a Client Extranet is becoming a must-have tool for any lawyer to provide effective client service.”

Reason 6 – Versioning

Now we are on to some of the technical benefits.  Many of the technical benefits pertain to SharePoint, a platform from Microsoft that is commonly used for creating Client Extranets.  One of the built in features is versioning – with capabilities to only show minor updates to internal people.  For example, you can work on 1.1 of an agreement internally and the client will not see changes until a 2.0 is published.

Reason 7 – Auditing

SharePoint keeps track of who makes changes to documents and you have a full auditing history of files.

Reason 8 – Search

Your Extranet becomes a resource for clients to look up answers to common questions.  You can set up Search to not only search private spaces securely, but also your public facing website.

Reason 9 – Workflow

Make sure the right documents are approved by the right people at the right time through workflows.  Workflows allow you to create structured processes that you want to reinforce as best practices in your organization.

Reason 10 – Flexibility

As your client becomes comfortable with using your extranet, they become more comfortable with the partnership overall.  Having the ability to meet the technical demands of your client can give you a competitive advantage.

“One of the biggest benefits that we have seen from a Client Extranet is that it enables us to take a more collaborative approach and meet the changing demands of our clients,” says Jonathan Thurmond, Web Systems Manager at the innovative law firm of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP.  “An Extranet allows our firm to be flexible in how we deliver services in a changing environment.”

Conclusion

ThreeWill works with innovative law firms to get Extranets up and running using a product from Microsoft called SharePoint.  This product allows you to get the above benefits and more.  We would love to talk to you about your organization leveraging the built-in capabilities of SharePoint to allow your firm to grow and thrive.

About Handshake Software

Handshake Software is the market-leading and award-winning provider of SharePoint-based products and services to the legal market including intranets, extranets, enterprise search, and mobility solutions.

About Sutherland

Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP is a law firm with global reach known for solving challenging business problems and resolving sophisticated legal issues for many of the world’s largest companies.

About ThreeWill

ThreeWill is a consulting firm based in Alpharetta, Georgia that is focused on building collaborative solutions on SharePoint 2013, Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure.

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