Paul hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP (Paul Hastings) was founded in 1951 by a young group of post-World War II attorneys. Today, they serve Fortune 500 and Forbes International 500 clients from 15 offices around the world, representing clients in corporate, employment, litigation, real estate and tax matters.

Over the decades, our firm has successfully responded to changing economic climates without altering our core customer-focused business philosophy. We believe the ingredients of our long-term success include a talented team of professionals; responsive "on-call" service; global teamwork; and the use of enabling technologies that link the firm's 950 attorneys to each other, to the firm's clients, and to information ­ wherever and whenever needed.

A firm-wide commitment to understanding more than just the legal field has also been vital to our growth and stability. All of our attorneys take it upon themselves to understand each client's business, operating landscape and issues, as well as pending opportunities and developments that could impact future business.

IMPROVING EFFECTIVENESS THROUGH KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT

Like many law firms, Paul Hastings places significant emphasis on organic growth and the cross-selling of services within our existing client base. To improve our effectiveness in this area, we decided in 2003 that we needed to increase firm-wide collaboration and adopt a formal knowledge management strategy that would meet the following objectives:

  • Provide the entire firm with easy access to a broad range of documents including best practices, internal forms and standard documents.
  • Arm the business development team with a tool that would help them research potential clients more quickly.
  • Offer our attorneys access to a broad set of information that can help them become more knowledgeable about our clients and their business, therefore enhancing their ability to cross-sell services.
  • Reduce the research burden on our library staff.

To meet these objectives, we chose to implement a global knowledge portal based on Microsoft's Sharepoint Portal technology and enhanced with external business information supplied by OneSource Information Services. The portal project was spearheaded internally by our chief knowledge officer and involved cross-functional participation by the business development, IT and knowledge management teams.
From the outset, we considered the integration of external business information to be a key component of our portal project because we believed it would helps us achieve our previously stated objectives, while also helping to drive portal usage.

We evaluated all of the leading information sources, including specialized sources typically found in law firms. We chose OneSource's because it offers flexibility in delivering information within multiple environments and formats, such as dynamic http URL links and XML field-level integration. At Paul Hastings, XML integration is enabled by the OneSource AppLink software developer kit, allowing external business intelligence to be embedded seamlessly within our knowledge portal.

The initial integration process was quick, taking just a few days to complete. Now, personnel in the U.S., Europe and Asia have fast access to company profiles, executive listings, biographies, SEC filings and analyst reports relating to both new and existing clients.

GAINING MORE VALUABLE INFORMATION IN LESS TIME

Access to external business information via our knowledge portal is helping our firm implement a self-service research model that saves time and relieves some of the burden on our library staff.

For example, our information-enriched portal is helping the business development team research potential clients more quickly. When preparing for client engagements, they can start with a bird's-eye view of a company and then drill down to more detailed information, such as board of director information, executive listings, significant developments and more detailed industry data. This gives them a more comprehensive view of the client's business, industries and potential legal needs.

OneSource satisfies 75 percent of the routine requests that previously consumed valuable library resources. In the six-month period between April and September 2004, Paul Hastings staff accessed nearly 10,000 reports from OneSource (encompassing company profiles, executive biographies, news reports, industry reports, etc.) Previously, these information requests would have been handled through our library staff or left unmet due to time or resource constraints.

The time savings afforded by OneSource frees the library staff to focus on more in-depth analysis in support of specific partner activities, such as engagement preparation. At the same time, attorneys have faster access to the in-depth intelligence they need to serve clients more effectively and uncover additional service opportunities.

STAYING THE PROJECT COURSE

For organizations undertaking portal projects similar to ours, I offer seemingly simple, but critical, advice: get all of the stakeholders involved in the project early on, make sure you begin with well-defined objectives, have a clear strategy for meeting those objectives, and evaluate external vendors or information on the basis of how well they match up with and can help you meet your objectives.

It sounds easy, but the challenge lies in staying the course throughout the duration of the project, even when you encounter signs of resistance. Law firms, in particular, are restricted in how we are able to identify and market ourselves to prospective clients. Thus, in the beginning, there was some skepticism within our firm regarding the value of external business information. It didn't seem to play a role in our existing business development processes function. Our team needed to stay focused on the evolving business development function, which is trending more toward the way in which it occurs in less-restricted corporations.

As a result of this focus, client intelligence has become a more integrated component of our business development, research and client service functions. Our attorneys see great value in the ability to get at comprehensive client information more quickly. For example, client teams routinely use executive biographies to learn more about an individual's work history, education and professional associations. This helps with personal relationship building.

While we have no formal ROI analysis results, anecdotal feedback tells us that we're meeting all of our objectives and we continue to look for new ways to integrate business intelligence within our client information processes. 

OneSource

OneSource offers an extensive library of integrated, company-linked business information, covering 3.2 million companies and 7 million executives. Professionals access OneSource through Web-based Business Browser subscriptions and via embedded solutions within CRM systems, portals, etc. OneSource offers content optimization services to help companies enrich and organize internal data.

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