How to Leverage Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law in 5 Key Areas of Practice

By Peter Sullivan

What can your law firm or corporate legal department accomplish with Practical Law?

Whether you want to serve clients with greater efficiency, boast a multi-jurisdictional presence, accelerate the development of young associates, compete with the big firms, or reveal your high-tech savviness, Practical Law leads the way.

How do we know? Because we asked. We asked our customers, and then we asked their customers.  Corporate lawyers and outside counsel alike reaffirmed Practical Law’s ability to deliver on its promise to meet the key performance indicators you measure –

  • Demonstrating legal Knowhow, being right on the law.
  • Delivering high-quality legal service with Efficiency.
  • Creating Value for clients.
  • Being Competitive in every jurisdiction and practice area.
  • Leveraging Technology in a tech-enabled world.

Legal Knowhow

Think of Practical Law as your trusted mentor and guide, the reliable adviser who frames your question by eliminating irrelevant distractions and providing the resources that let you get right down to business.

A partner with a midsize law firm said it best: “At the end of the day, Practical Law is ‘the old wise person’ that gets to sit in the room and tell you, ‘do this, don’t do that.’ Practical Law has been that for me.”

Corporate lawyers routinely face a broad range of legal issues. A personnel issue in the morning, a real estate closing in the afternoon. Perhaps a cross-border deal in between. Practical Law is the tool inhouse lawyers rely on.

“I was in search of a resource that would help me handle myriad issues, which is what you deal with in a corporate legal department,” said one inhouse lawyer. “Practical Law provides a tremendous resource.… I now have the ability to sound smarter when on a call with outside counsel.”

Inhouse and outside counsel agree: Practical Law lets you be bigger than your department or firm really is. “And that’s a direct aim to go play big with bigger firms,” one law firm partner explained. “We can compete against the firms that are much, much bigger by head count.”

 Competitiveness

Today’s tech-savvy clients are less focused on head count in assessing a firm’s aptitude to handle their complex matters.

Instead, as a law firm partner explained, “Clients are now asking, ‘Are you ‘with it?’.” Firms that are, he said, utilize tech-enabled tools and resources that generate the right answer, in a cost-effective way, with the sense of urgency that clients expect.

“It’s a win for you because they know you’re tech savvy. Some of the business I can win is not just because we’re bigger or smaller. That’s almost an old school question.”

Practical Law levels the playing field, allowing firms to compete for – and retain – clients whose businesses have expanded in scope and geography. It erases traditional barriers that once kept firms out of a practice area or jurisdiction and allows the lawyer-client relationship to deepen as clients’ businesses grow.

A law firm partner shared the following: “Practical Law has forms and templates…. I’ve been able to land many clients whom I would not otherwise be in the running to have because I have those resources available. Quite frankly, it’s like having another office in another state.”

Added an inhouse attorney: “As a client, you build a relationship with an attorney regardless of the law firm or the issue. You want to be able to go to that attorney you have the relationship with, that you have that comfort level with.”

Efficiency

You’re asked to be an expert in many practice areas and multiple jurisdictions. It’s an inescapable truth as valid in corporate law departments as in the offices of outside counsel.

Practical Law builds efficiency into your practice by giving you the tools you need to accelerate your legal knowhow that saves time, effort, and emotional energy.

As one law firm partner put it, “You’ve got to be efficient. You can’t be in this competitive marketplace and not have all the resources that corporate counsel are expecting you to have or that your clients expect you to provide to them.”

Practical Law is a practice management tool that reduces the need for outside services and boosts the development and contributions of new associates, driving ROI in multiple ways.

“We have a budget committee that beats me down every year,” said a corporate lawyer, “but Practical Law helps me explain that it’s not just about the savings on the outside counsel spend…. I’m being more efficient when I’m working with them,” he added.

“Our associates are useful on Day 1 because they go right to Practical Law,” a law firm partner said. “They can provide a form, and we’re 70, maybe 80 percent there. That’s a big step.”

One general counsel pointed out, “Practical Law is more than just an efficiency tool. If they’re not using Practical Law, they’re at an automatic disadvantage. Its impact on the industry is that it is creating a standard by which lawyers are operating.”

Value

Practical Law is the tie that binds legal services to value, combining innovative technologies with deepening practice area expertise to yield enhanced customer value.

“Practical Law allows us to quickly find an answer to a specific question and then be able to provide that to the client in a cost-effective manner where the client feels like they’re getting value,” a law firm partner said. “That’s really what it comes down to: Practical Law allows me to give to my clients that value for a specific question and I can give them the answer and they feel like I have their back,” he added.

Another law firm partner agreed: “What my clients want is an answer. They want a practical answer to a legal question…. But what they really want is it to be done efficiently and cost effectively. They don’t want me to say, I need to look into that…. That’s just not going to work in our competitive field.”

One inhouse counsel shared, “Not a day goes by that I don’t hear, ‘I need this quickly turned around because they’re interested now and they might not be interested tomorrow.’ Practical Law isn’t just the outside counsel savings. It isn’t just in our own hourly savings, but it’s in deals that otherwise just might not occur due to a time savings.”

Leveraging Technology

Practical Law combines timely legal updates, document access and drafting, and exhaustive checklists to deliver quality results, allowing attorneys and their clients to move ahead with confidence and peace of mind.

“Doing transactions without Practical Law,” said one general counsel customer, “would be like litigating without Westlaw.… If you don’t know the case law, if you don’t know precedent, you’re at an automatic disadvantage. I think it’s the same with Practical Law,” she added.

“It’s not a fair fight,” added a mid-sized law firm partner.

The “What’s Market” module is particularly effective for customers eager to stay on top of current trends and market practice.

“What’s Market allows me to stay abreast of recent developments in different areas,” said an inhouse general counsel. “When you’re doing a deal and you’re reaching those critical deal points at the end and you’re at an impasse,” she continued, “you can actually point to What’s Market, cut through that impasse, and get the deal done that much quicker.”

“My department’s sole purpose is to make lawyers efficient and smarter and successful,” said an associate general counsel. “Practical Law allows us to be efficient throughout the life of the deal and to give the best legal advice to our own clients in a particular circumstance.”

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