When considering solutions that support your client value framework, it is easy to get lost in the weeds. Over time and as technologies evolve, most firms find themselves with many products, each possessing overlapping features. Lateral rainmakers may insist on acquiring technologies used at their previous firms. Eventually, firms wind up with several solutions for document sharing, collaborative work spaces, task management, calendaring, and other tasks. Legal teams seeking to leverage such technologies face a selection process that, even with documented guidance, can be confusing. Recommendations can vary depending upon who the firms speak with. Technology support teams get spread thin. To further complicate things, the feature sets of each technology support different client, practice and matter template, integration, and security needs. As legal operation teams increasingly join legal teams in client pitches and supporting client relationships, valuable insights regarding opportunities to increase client value also increase. Focusing on defining a client experience of law firm technology as a single, legal portfolio management solution can help drive technology and other decision-making.

Legal portfolio management, not to be confused with legal project management, is a design strategy representing the organization of available technology and client-specific information resources into a single, consistent, and integrated experience. It provides clients with an easy, organized interface with their firms in a self-serve manner to collaborate, obtain the most up-to-date information, and reduce email. In such a scenario, a client logging into their “account” once will be presented with an organized view of their case collaboration sites across practices, reports (status, financial, budget, and other), and invoicing, as well as communication and other collaboration opportunities all targeted to their specific roles. Multi-client conglomerates should have a convenient view across all clients. Supporting third-party involvement helps with efficiency, further improving the client experience.

White boarding the legal portfolio management scenario helps raise specific questions about existing technologies and potential new technologies. Can the technologies be accessed with one login? Can I or should I provide an integrated view? To what extent will technology updates risk the stability of the overall solution? What technology consolidation opportunities exist? Are we supporting most of our strategic use cases? To what extent are our legal ops and legal teams able to tailor client-specific experiences? Is it flexible enough for varying client needs? Is it simple enough for broad-based adoption? Is it standardized enough to scale efficiently? Which strategic components should we build vs. buy?

Legal portfolio management discussions drive the formation of client value and technology roadmaps. They enable better firm strategy discussions. They expose new opportunities. They focus resources and, with effective, agile project management, can deliver ongoing, incremental value. You will also drive more consistent use and value out of the technology investments that remain part of the overall solution. The interesting outcome is trying to figure out what to do when your clients like the solution so much that they want to use it with other outside counsel. A story, perhaps, for a future blog.