Have you ever owned a pair of scissors where the small screw or pin in the middle became loose? When that happens, the blades get out of line and, no matter how sharp they are, they no longer do the job well. And if that pin falls out altogether, the scissors just don’t work at all. There is a similar dynamic between law firms and clients.

Good case management and positive outcomes certainly require “sharpness” on the part of both a client and their law firm, but is that enough? When a client chooses to give their valuable business to a law firm, it is an indication that they believe the firm will be able to deliver the right result for that particular matter. But it’s best for both parties if they can build a lasting partnership. What drives that? The two have to be properly aligned.

More and more often, corporate legal and claims litigation departments are asking for greater transparency and collaboration from their law firms. This is the lynchpin of the law firm-client relationship. In the current economic climate, there needs to be close alignment on budget and strategy. And any changes in case approach require both parties to recalibrate so they can proceed in sync with one another.

The process of case management is unlikely to be successful if the client and firm are doing it separately, with nothing to anchor them together. A common platform, where clients and firms can access shared information, provides this anchor. Such a platform, equipped with customizable processes and workflows, can assure that the client and law firm are always aligned on strategy, goals, budget, and other important details. It also provides a forum for timely and consistent communication, which promotes transparency and close collaboration. This avoids the pitfalls of client and law firm believing they are working cooperatively, only to find out later that the firm’s strategies have not been aligned with the client’s goals and expectations.

A reliable and feature-rich shared platform supports collaborative activities throughout the matter life cycle, starting with early case assessment and strategy, continuing through periodic (for example, monthly or quarterly) review of critical developments, and finishing with assessment of performance at case closure.

In future posts I will zoom in on some basic examples of collaborative workflows for legal projects and some of their benefits for both law firms and clients.