Legal technology can be a competitive weapon for large law firms. 

Foley & Lardner Leads the Way With Client Extranets (Legal Times, 11/30/06) reports on how Foley uses technology to serve clients.

The firm has created customized extranets to share documents with client; one client uses the system to track 200 matters. Foley also offers “templates to generate legal documents, such as nondisclosure agreements, based on specific business rules.” The author notes that

“Legal-technology tools, such as templates that can be easily used to create documents such as nondisclosures and other types of agreements, allow clients to perform many of their own tasks without external attorney assistance. The result is that clients are less dependent on outside counsel for agreements for each customer or vendor. Technology tools such as these drive down costs on lower-value legal work and allow law firms to focus their efforts on the clients’ most critical need: high-level legal counsel.”

I have written extensively about online legal services (articles and blog posts), so am pleased to see that the idea of delivering legal guidance interactively for lower value work still has legs.

The author notes that heavy reliance on client-facing technology is not risk-free. This can be managed, however, “by selectively marketing the systems to the most innovative attorneys and by hiring an internal technology consultant to ensure that the systems are properly demonstrated and supported.” Foley actively promotes its tech prowess, but more on that later.