Law departments and a “self-service” model for serving clients

Here’s a controversial idea: “The [Cisco Systems] legal department set out to satisfy managers by automating routine legal transactions and letting employees handle the details by the Web.” (ABA Journal, Sept. 2005 at pg. 55). Most law departments shiver at the thought of letting clients, barbarians outside the gates, create even quotidian legal documents.

The years ahead, I predict, will see more and more self-help by clients, enabled by law departments that make available to clients form documents (See my post of Aug. 31, 2005 about Schering Canada.), record answers in searchable databases to frequently asked questions, unleash the capabilities of document assembly (But see my post of March 24, 2005 about document assembly treading water.), set threshold requirements for legal review, effectively train clients, designate legal coordinators at clients, share knowledge in consortia (See my post of July 21, 2005 about a data consortium.), apply artificial intelligence tools (See my post of March 27, 2005.), better their knowledge management investments, maintain industrial strength intranets – all to the end of removing lawyers from lower value, lower risk assembly-line law and instead having them guard the parapets of important legal decisions.

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