The Internet - Business Strategies for Law Firms
Law Society Publishing 2000 GBP 29.95
In the wave of Internet books, it was exciting to discover a book that is both visionary and realistic at the same time. Even more important, it was exciting to discover a book that seems to meet the needs of a typical pragmatic law firm. Law firms want to know exactly what the Internet is, how it works, and how the firm can profit by it. That's what The Internet - Business Strategies for Law Firms is all about.
The basic element of an Internet approach is the web site. Andrew Terrett claims that lawyers have neither understood the web medium nor addressed the needs of their audience. 'Brochureware' is easy to create but it adds little for either client or firm. The three key ingredients are content, communication and community.
But who is the audience? According to Terrett, there are likely to be three types of visitors to a law firm web site, the first two of which should be explicitly catered for. In order of importance, they are: clients or potential clients (i.e. those visitors with a business problem and presumably looking for a business solution); potential employees and recruits; and finally casual visitors, those who may have come across the site by accident or may just be looking up the site because they have heard about it. By their very nature, casual visitors cannot be explicitly catered for.
When you have decided who your audience is, then you can start work on content for your law firm web site. On the web, content is king since there is a scarcity of quality information resources on the Web. The second key ingredient of web site work is communication, that is, dialogue or interactivity. Finally, if the two concepts of content and communication are intelligently combined and nurtured, the site will develop as a virtual community, and it is this sense of community that will sustain the web site over the longer term. As Terrett states: 'Of course, this is easier said than done'.
The Internet - Business Strategies for Law Firms has a nice coverage of internal web sites, i.e. intranets. The work investigates some of the practical development issues, the benefits to both firm and end-user and the fundamental issue for law firm intranet developers - that of cultural change.
Intranets are typical applications of knowledge management technology. Knowledge management has become the new buzzword in management consultancy circles. Andrew Terrett is able to treat this topic in a realistic way highly relevant to law firms.
Several chapters of the book are devoted to how law firms can get started on the Internet. These chapters explain practicalities of Internet services, web technology and security. Each chapter concludes with action points.
I certainly agree with Charles Christian who, in the foreword of the book, writes about the work: 'It is a guide to everything you ever wanted to know about using the Internet in a legal practice'. Hopefully, this book will find a global audience. From my own law firm research in the small country of Norway to colleagues' law firm research in countries such as the US, UK and Australia, I know there is a desperate need out there for The Internet - Business Strategies for Law Firms.
This is a Book Review published on 29 February 2000.
Citation: Gottschalk P, 'The Internet - Business Strategies for Law Firms', Book Review, 2000 (1) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT). <http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/00-1/Gottschalk2.html>. New citation as at 1/1/04: <http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/jilt/2000_1/gottschalk2/>