1. Your Most Important Collaborators Are Your Clients Repeat to yourself and your colleagues as often as possible.
2. You're Already Collaborating For better or worse, you already have a system (or systems) for collaboration.
3. Collaboration Requires Collaboration Choices about collaboration tools must be made collaboratively. Compromise often is a necessary element in the selecting of collaboration tools.
Creating a Process for Client-focused Collaboration Projects
Study History. Most technology innovation comes at the urging of clients.
Learn Your Options. A simple collaboration audit can go a long way in helping you see where you are and where you need to go.
Learn What Technologies Your Clients Use. It is vital to understand what software and technologies your clients actually use for their own work and how they would prefer to interact with you when using technology.
Find Out What Bothers Your Clients. Clients are willing to answer surveys and answer questions, especially if you have demonstrated that you will listen to them.
Ask What Would Help Your Clients Most. Involve your IT people, your staff and anyone who regularly interacts with your client through technology.
Suggest What Your Clients Have Not Thought Of. You should have the advantage of knowing what is now available in legal technology. What can you suggest to show clients your expertise, cut costs or improve responsiveness?
Identify Priorities. Which ideas make the most sense in your current context?
Meet The Extranet Family. Online collaboration tools are at heart specialized forms of extranets. Extranets can take many forms – information portals, simple access to documents, case monitoring and virtual deal rooms.
Make a Plan. Your collaboration initiatives will all into one of three categories: What you can do internally and on your own; What your clients can do internally; and What you must cooperate on to accomplish.
Keep the Momentum. Talk is cheap. If you are the one who did the talking, you need to be the one who makes sure that the work is getting done.
Finish Projects. The technology landscape is littered with the wreckage of uncompleted projects. Well-chosen, simple pilot projects are the best way to start.
Measure Results. How do you know whether this idea worked or not? Can you measure results?
Make it Sticky. By using technology to address key concerns for clients and to make it easy for them to work with you, you can create a “stickiness” in working with your firm and your systems. As a result, you increase the costs and effort for a firm that wishes to take a client from you.
Make it Reusable – and Take it to Other Clients. Some of your initiatives can be reused. Some might even be licensed as moneymakers for your firm or even sold as products, either by your firm or jointly with a client.
Internal Collaboration and External Collaboration Require Different Tools and Approaches When you change the context, re-evaluate the tools you use.
Rethink Email as a Collaboration Platform Email is probably the most common collaboration tool you use, but it is usually not the best tool, especially for those with overloaded inboxes
Know Where Your Collaborators Are People increasingly work in different places, at different times, and on different devices, including smart phones and laptops.
Understand the Uniquely Legal Issues You may want to create a policy or document explaining clients and others about the risks and special concerns in using these tools.
Keep Up! Keep up with the latest in collaboration tools by listening to your clients and colleagues and using resources like The Lawyer's Guide to Collaboration blog ( www.lawyersguidetocollaboration.com ).