We advise on legal knowledge management (LKM) and create legal intranet sites.
An LKM strategy can include improved databases, database integration, data tagging and mining, legal intranets, and document automation. Most importantly, a successful LKM strategy must work with, rather than against, the culture of a firm or law department.
Well-designed LKM systems allow firms and law departments to make better use of knowledge about:
- the firm or department
- the law
- pending and past deals and other legal matters
Organizing, integrating, and improving access to this information can help firms and corporate law departments:
- avoid repeating the same research or redrafting the same documents
- stay up to date on relevant legal developments
- train new team members faster and better
- respond more quickly to client requests
LKM systems can also support law firm marketing efforts by improving the quality of pitches and the speed of pitch preparation, reducing the amount of time fee earners need to spend on pitch preparation and tracking pitch results to evaluate whether a particular strategy is effective.
A legal intranet site is often the foundation of an LKM strategy. A legal intranet site can can answer frequently asked questions, enhance a legal compliance program, share forms, provide training, and guide employees to lawyers and other legal resources.
Most corporate counsel lack the time and technical expertise to design and build their own sites. We provide cost-effective, timely solutions.
Any web designer can take a client’s material and turn it into a site. We add value because we understand law, how legal departments function within corporations, and how intranets work.
Not only can we collect and organize existing client content, we can provide new content on almost any legal topic.
Clients and Projects
We have created:
- an interactive OEM agreement
- on-line antitrust compliance programs
- content on numerous topics, such as intellectual property
- a complete turn-key legal site including hundreds of pages of information and resources
Site Design Philosophy
A good legal intranet site improves client service and provides faster turnaround, greater consistency, and 24/7 access. It allows a company to use its legal resources more effectively: by giving internal clients training, access to standard forms, and answers to frequently-asked questions, the site can free corporate counsel to deal with more complex and specialized issues.
The architecture of a site can be as important as the content. If users get lost, they may give up and not return the next time they have legal questions. Elements that make a site easier to use include internal and external links, navigation buttons, site maps, introduction/summary screens, pop up details, and eye-friendly colors, typography and layout.
We can help redesign an existing site, by adding navigational aids and improving aesthetics, and can also design a new site from the ground up.
Integration with Business Systems
Although a “stand alone” site can be useful, a legal intranet site can be even more valuable when integrated into existing (or newly improved) business systems.
For example, creation of a contracts page can lead a company to reevaluate the entire contracting process, with consideration of contract law basics, standardization of forms, negotiation fallback positions, document generation, signature authority, and tracking of amendments and renewal dates.
Such integration requires a review of how legal services are delivered, a survey of internal clients (and possibly external customers), identifying logjams and inconsistencies, brainstorming solutions, and designing new processes which incorporate the intranet site.
We can help by bringing a fresh perspective, and by uncovering issues that internal clients might be reluctant to share with their lawyers.
A basic legal intranet site could provide information on the following topics:
- Confidential Information
- Intellectual Property
- Dispute Resolution
A basic site would also include downloadable versions of forms, such as NDAs.
Other topics could be added based on a company’s special needs and concerns. These additional topics might include:
- International – including international trade and antitrust, country-specific legal issues, and foreign language versions of information and forms
- Product Liability
- Business Torts
- A “Lawyer Only” section (password protected), with sample forms, internal memos, briefs, links to legal research sites and outside law firm sites, etc.
Bells and Whistles
Site enhancements might include:
- Legal Automation
- Training Tools and Toys
- Fun Stuff
A program like HotDocs can be used to create intelligent documents. An “intelligent” document is more than a form or template. It asks questions, then creates a custom document based on the answers. Intelligent documents allow users to craft situation-specific solutions within allowed parameters.
Thinking through and writing down all of the available alternatives can be time-consuming. Thus, automation is probably cost-effective when a contract form is used at least 20 times per year and where variations are more than trivial (e.g., beyond changing names and dates) but not so complex that every such agreement is substantially unique.
Training Tools and Toys
While information can be communicated in plain text form (as on this website), users may be more likely to absorb and remember information if a site accommodates multiple learning styles (visual, auditory, etc.). Users will also be more willing to learn if learning is fun.
Example of training tools and toys are quizzes, PowerPoint presentations, and audio/video presentations (lecture-style or dramatized). Training can be based on an e-learning platform such as Moodle.
When a user completes a training session, the site may generate a certificate of completion. This can be printed out for the user’s personnel file, sent via email to a central location, or recorded in a database.
The legal intranet site can be the entry point for existing or specially-created databases.
Some possible database applications follow:
- Contracts: To download a standard contract, users would be required to fill in the name of the other party, the date the deal is expected to be signed, and whatever else is pertinent. This information could be used to follow up on contracts in process, to assure that agreements are not signed without appropriate approvals and that signed deals are entered into a database for tracking financial impact, renewal dates, licensing relationships, etc.
- Trademarks and Patents: All company trademarks could be on-line, and searchable by product line, name, country of use, etc. Permissions to use other companies’ trademarks could be included, along with pertinent restrictions. The same could be done for patents.
- Compliance Tracking: Completion of legal compliance training could be tracked, with reminders sent to employees who have not completed training or who are due for a refresher course.
- Intellectual Property Licenses: A database could list any third party content contained in each product, with links to the text of each license, and a tickler system for royalty payment dates and renewal deadlines. All major outward licenses (site licenses, OEM agreements, etc.) could also be tracked by the database.
The site should be updated so that, at a minimum, organization charts and contact names are current. The site should also be updated whenever there is a significant change in relevant laws.
Reports of new judicial decisions can be interesting and informative. For example, news that an executive has been sentenced to prison for price fixing can lend urgency to a discussion of antitrust issues.
Each topical heading within the site can include legal news, updated monthly or whenever news happens. Also, an emailed topical bulletin, with hotlinks to details on the intranet, can help bring people to the site.
“Fun stuff” is anything that lures people to the site or makes their use of it more enjoyable.
Fun stuff may include cartoons and animations, sound effects, lawyer jokes, contests, quizzes and games, and links to sites with information on personal legal concerns (family law, real estate, etc.).