Extranets Cut Costs in Law Departments

November 01, 2010

November 1, 2010 (Mountain View, CA) – Matt Kesner, Chief Technology Officer, and Michael Sands, a partner and co-chair of the Electronic Information Management Group with Fenwick & West LLP, were recently quoted in the Inside Counsel article "Extranets Cut Costs in Law Departments," which highlights the Firm's innovative use of extranets as a client communication tool.

As alternative fee arrangements have gained in popularity, many in-house counsel are looking for new ways to cut additional legal costs. One cost-cutting method that is increasing in popularity is the use of extranets, which are secure, shared websites designed to efficiently handle communication between law firms and their clients.

Extranets provide authorized users with a secure system where they can share information, read documents or access applications using their login and password. This allows firms to post real-time case management data that keeps everyone on the case updated at all times.

To review the status of a matter, "Clients don't have to make a call to their [outside] lawyers. They can take a look at their matter or portfolio online," says Matt Kesner.

While extranets also allow for simultaneous review and editing of documents by multiple attorneys, Kesner says that capability is rarely used. "Clients and lawyers don't want to waste time online preparing together a next draft word by word. Lawyers prefer to assign one group or party to make the next round of revisions and publish these to the sharerooms," says Kesner.

There are three extranet models for legal departments: those created by outside law firms (a common model), extranets that are built internally or those that are contracted out to a service provider.

Fenwick & West currently supports more than 20,000 extranets to collaborate with law departments and other clients as well as internally, says Michael Sands. The firm creates new sharerooms for each matter, with online access to files such as documents and calendars.

"This is something that we essentially pioneered a decade ago. Sharerooms are an integral and critical part of our practice and delivery of client service," says Sands. Fenwick provides legal departments with extranets for 20 percent of what it would cost to hire an outside vendor to build an extranet, Kesner adds.