Many law firms have established extranets designed to share documents and other information with clients. The anecdotal consensus among law firm technology managers is that neither clients nor firm lawyers have used these extranets as much as had been expected. The generally accepted explanation for this is that lawyers – both inside and outside counsel – are wed to e-mail and do not want to bother with multiple interfaces.

In the current issue of Law Technology News, the CIO of Morrison & Foerster, Jo Haraf, describes in The Killer App? (note, free registration required to view full-text) how her firm’s extranet evolved. The initial extranet was not used much. But when the firm put its patent docket on the extranet, clients were excited and started using the extranet regularly. With the success of the patent docket in hand, MoFo is moving to make its litigation docket available via the extranet.

Technology is an important tool for law firms to master in serving clients. Achieving success, however, is not necessarily easy; first attempts do not always work. But those firms that listen to their clients and to new ideas generated internally and that are willing to keep trying can succeed.