Technology

CRM software providers automate updates; law firms make money


While it’s often tough to get lawyers to regularly update their customer relationship management software—a kind of firmwide Rolodex on analytic steroids—software makers have been busy trying to make the applications as painless to use as possible.

And that’s great news for firms like London-based Osborne Clarke, which has 600-plus lawyers. The firm knows from experience that a bit of attorney input into CRM software can yield significant and unexpected profits.

Essentially, the firm brought in about $84,200 in unanticipated business with LexisNexis InterAction because one of its attorneys left a note every day in the CRM software, according to Snehit Cherian, InterAction’s director of product development.

While the lawyer’s observation that one of Osborne’s venture capital clients was considering investing in a company was unrelated to Osborne’s business with the client, “another lawyer at Osborne happened to have deep knowledge of the company the venture capital firm was evaluating and saw the notes in InterAction,” Cherian says.

The result: Osborne netted an out-of-the-blue consulting fee of 50,000 pounds from its venture capital client, simply by putting its in-the-know attorney together with the client and providing the background it needed, Cherian says.

Users like Osborne also know that CRM comes in handy for ferreting out who best knows whom outside a law firm by analyzing who is regularly exchanging emails and other communications with those people.

AUTOMATIC EDGE

But even with all of the conveniences, CRM firms realize attorneys often dread the mundane task of updating records about what they say and do. So they’ve taken pains to integrate tools into CRM software that auto-import or auto-manipulate much of the data.

LexisNexis InterAction is configured to automatically import any social media posts that law firm marketers and others make. It is also designed to automatically monitor attorneys’ use of Microsoft Outlook by tracking their emails and meetings to assess the strength of each relationship.

Jeff Reade, president of Cole Valley Software (maker of the ContactEase CRM product), says his software package also includes auto monitoring of Outlook, as well as money-saving features like auto pop-ups, which detail the exact debt each client owes a firm.

Firms with successful CRM software implementations also work to ensure that the master database is overseen by a highly trusted data steward, according to CRM makers.

“Often, the data steward is the secretary of the general partner or someone similar who has a long history with the firm and can be relied on,” Reade says.

Trina Joyce, product manager for Aderant CRM4Legal, another software system, adds: “Reassure lawyers that firm data is in well-trained and trusted hands, and that the regular data cleansing, duplicate merging, data augmentation and data quality monitoring will benefit them directly.”

This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of the ABA Journal with this headline: “CRM Made Easier: Providers automate updates; law firms make money.”

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