One of the traditional assumptions about intranets is that they are really only suited for large corporations, with many thousands of employees, or in the legal market, the very top tier of large, multi-national law firms. This assumption is based on the notion that the time and resources necessary to develop an effective intranet means that it can only be cost-justified in a very large organization, where the benefits stand to be realized across an extremely large group of users.
But the new generation of intranet tools and technologies includes a number of “out of the box” intranet solutions that are considerably cheaper and lighter and potentially far more attractive to smaller organizations. This means that intranets today need not be the exclusive domain of only the largest law firms. Indeed, given the range of technology solutions available today, intranets have become well within reach for medium sized firms with 75 or more lawyers. In fact, there are a few cloud-based practice management services that make intranet tools available to even smaller law firms today.
Indeed, rather than focusing on the size of your firm there are a number of other key criteria that may be far more important in considering whether an intranet may be helpful to your firm. Among the key factors to bear in mind are:
- the number of your firm’s office locations
- your firm’s rate of growth, either from merger or organic expansion
- the extent to which lawyers routinely work remotely or from the road
- the extent to which your firm’s practice involves a high degree of collaboration among lawyers in different practice groups
- the extent to which your firm’s practice involves extensive collaboration with other professionals outside of the firm
- the extent to which your lawyer’s productivity suffers from clogged email boxes
Even for a law firm with 70 or fewer professionals, an intranet may prove to be a cost-effective means to help manage and ameliorate the challenges that arise in day-to-day legal practice as a result of any of these factors.
But as intranet technology and solutions come within reach of more and more law firms, it’s important to remember that the ultimate success of a firm’s intranet will depend just as much, if not more, on interface design and ease of use as it does on the underlying technology. Even intranet tools that are designed to work “out of the box” as cloud-based solutions should be customized and tweaked to suit the culture and environment of your firm’s practice. So when you’re ready to start finding or developing an intranet solution that’s right for your firm, make sure that you include a design firm that understands usability and UX as a key part of your planning and development team.
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