Paula Darch 24 July 2023 10 min read

Isn't it time your law firm invested in a modern intranet?

The legal sector is playing catch-up when it comes to technology investment. Historically risk-averse to automation, the pandemic forced law firms to quickly adjust their thinking and we’re now seeing more and more of them investing in technologies to automate and streamline processes; improve security; and enhance both the employee and client experiences. Gartner predicts that by 2025, legal departments will increase their spend on legal technology threefold, and law firms will be no different, with a portion of this investment being allocated to legal intranets.

If your law firm hasn’t yet decided to update its intranet, here are some key reasons to bring your system into the modern age.

Economic pressures – The cost-of-living crisis is impacting everyone, and some clients will be unable to pay the steep fees some law firms are asking. In fact, a survey of 200 law firm partners found that 44 per cent are facing client pressure to reduce fees in the face of increasing costs, while 46 per cent said clients are moving work to less expensive competitors. However, cutting costs to remain competitive is simply not sustainable.

When time is money, maximising productivity so more is being achieved in each billable hour, is key. But rather than pushing your team so hard they are at risk of burnout, it’s about streamlining and automating the mundane so that your people can concentrate on value-adding work. The intranet is vital for supporting this, making information and documents easy to locate, and providing workflow functionality to streamline the circulation and authorisation of documents. Online expense forms can even simplify the recording and claiming of expenses, saving time that can be allocated elsewhere.

Security concerns –  Research from Baker McKenzie has found that 62 per cent of 600 senior legal and risk leaders are expecting cybersecurity and data disputes to present a risk this year. Law firms remain prime targets to cyber criminals and yet many aren’t taking sufficient precautions when it comes to their highly valuable information and documents.

It’s crucial to be hypervigilant with the secure transfer of information, and storage of documents, while maintaining digitally safe work practices. Having a cloud-based intranet will increase security, however this must be accompanied by strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, and the ability to have both encryption and restricted access when necessary. A quality modern intranet should have all these security features as standard.

Compliance and competency – Two huge risks for any law firm are non-compliance and employee incompetence. By using a modern intranet, compliance training can be effectively managed and logged to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. This can be supported with mandatory read functionality to ensure that ‘must read’ documents are distributed to all staff. When the documents have been read, this is automatically recorded.

The onboarding and ongoing training of staff can also be better supported with an intranet, with ‘onboarding hubs’ providing key information, processes and policies as well as tasks for new hires to perform. This ensures they become competent in their role as soon as possible. Plus, upskilling employees can be better managed such as enabling employees to request training using an online form. They can also be automatically notified when training is due.

With ‘job shadowing’ no longer a given now that hybrid working is so prevalent, ensuring employees are effectively trained through other means is more important than ever, and so providing access to online training resources such as videos and course materials is vital.

The hybrid employee experience –Only 23 per cent of lawyers work exclusively from the office these days, and so providing a positive employee experience wherever and whenever legal professionals are working is crucial. An intranet effectively supports hybrid working, providing quick and easy access to documents, updates, colleague contacts details, forms, HR and marketing resources, and so on. It also supports collaborative working; the sharing of success stories; the giving of recognition; and signposts employees to wellbeing support and guidance.

Ultimately, the intranet is key in a hybrid world, helping to nurture a positive company culture which is especially important in the face of talent attraction and retention challenges.

The client experience – Providing a first-rate client experience will naturally lead to repeat business and ‘word of mouth’ referrals. The intranet can effectively support this, helping legal professionals to streamline its client communications from making information, updates and documents readily available through to simplifying client signature requests. A specific client portal or ‘extranet’ which is linked to the intranet is also a great addition to a legal firm’s armoury, providing clients with greater transparency while facilitating more effective communication and collaboration. For instance, clients can download documents, submit evidence to their solicitor and check on the status of their case. Such an addition elevates the client experience, bringing it into the modern age.

Driving new business – An ongoing challenge for legal firms is how to drive new business, after all, legal professionals are unlikely to be trained marketers.

An intranet can support new business generation by allowing the quick and easy sharing of marketing tips and tools. This means that proven techniques can be used rather than solicitors having to learn the fundamentals of marketing from scratch, for example. Client feedback/references can also be requested via the client hub and then stored in the intranet’s marketing area for use in marketing adverts and collateral.

Of course, creating a positive client experience will also drive new business as word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool.

Legal firms can’t afford to neglect their intranets, especially with hybrid working now the norm. They are the glue that holds company cultures together while elevating both the employee and client experiences. Modern intranets also deliver significant business benefits to law firms, from enhanced security and compliance through to streamlining and automating mundane tasks so legal professionals can spend more time adding value. Those firms that choose not to invest in a modern intranet, are putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage through their inaction. For as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos states: “There is no alternative to digital transformation. Visionary companies will carve out new strategic options for themselves — those that don’t adapt, will fail.”


Paula Darch

Paula is our marketing whizz and is passionate about intranet engagement and getting the most out of your intranet software.