Did you ever hear the story of the client who was pitched eight law firm portals in a day?
It’s a true story. At the client’s Law Firm Innovation Day, eight firms stood up and pitched a portal.
But portals have been around since the 90s. Are they the best way for law firms and clients to collaborate in 2022? The team at legal tech platform Lupl spoke to 16 general counsels to find out.
Read our free white paper: Discover Five Portal Alternatives for Law Firms & Legal Departments.
Why does it matter?
In 2022, financial information is on our phone. Your health data is on our wrist. No surprise then that clients don’t want to send an email and wait 48 hours for an update on their legal matter.
More than ever, clients are putting as much weight on how firms collaborate and deliver services as on their legal credentials.
Until now, the established wisdom was “go pitch a portal.” But is that really what clients want?
See why 500 organizations have already ditched the portal. Get a free Lupl demo.
What clients (really) think of portals
- Eight firms, eight portals, eight passwords
As one GC told us, “A lot of law firms come to us and say, ‘We’re really innovative, we’ve built a portal.’ But portals break down when you have this many law firms and everyone wants you to log into their captive portals…. It just doesn’t work for us.”
Most legal departments work with more than one firm. So, if each firm has its own portal, that means the client must jump between multiple portals, and remember multiple passwords, to find things. “Why doesn’t my [Firm A] portal talk to my [Firm B] portal?”, asked one GC.
So why not have a group of firms build a single portal together? That awkward dance is fraught with technical and commercial challenges — like who hosts it, designs it, maintains it… and pays for it.
- Convenient for the firm, inconvenient for the client
“Portal” comes from the Latin “porta,” which means “gate.” A portal acts like a gateway into a firm’s system. It’s a way of bringing the client into the law firm’s world – a bit like having them travel across town for a meeting at the firm’s office, but without the coffee.
And that’s really the problem (the travel, not the coffee). It might be convenient for the firm… but not the client. As one GC told us, “Yeah, I’m thinking back to a previous law firm. It was more complicated than I was expecting to find what I needed. I remember saying, ‘oh, how do I find that portal again?’. And then, ‘oh, shoot, they made me do a password that’s different than my usual passwords.’ Then I got logged out. Yeah, can you just send me that damn thing?”
Learn more in our free white paper, “Discover Five Portal Alternatives for Law Firms & Legal Departments”
- More clunky than collaborative
Most portals started life as data rooms or extranets. This legacy is often reflected in their design – heavier on document storage, lighter on real-time collaboration.
As one GC explained, “Portals are used by most people as a dumb repository. You can do a little bit of live collaboration in them, but no one ever does. And, to be honest, they don’t look any different to me than the first data rooms I was using in 2001. It’s a well-ordered system, but it’s not doing anything very clever.”
Portals work well for pushing documents and data from firm to client. But when the project involves real-time collaboration, portals can feel static and one-dimensional.
- Weeks to roll out and a team to maintain
Many portals can be customized endlessly. But that configurability comes at a significant cost. Endlessly configurable = configure endlessly.
Several GCs we spoke to complained about how long it had taken to get a portal set up for their needs. “It took our firms three months to set up a portal for us,” complained one senior lawyer. “We want something spun up in minutes, not weeks,” said another. A busy Head of Legal Ops complained about the training needs for portals: “For us, if it needs training, it’s dead.”
Even on the law firm side, we spoke to one team who had eight professionals 100% dedicated to managing portals. That’s a lot of headcount and cost.
See how it takes 57 seconds to set up Lupl with no training. Schedule a free demo today.
So what DO clients want? (Hint: It’s not a portal.)
We asked 16 legal departments, “If you could wave a magic wand, what would the ideal platform for outside counsel collaboration look like?”
The surprise? Not one of them said, “more portals.” They all wanted something fundamentally different.
Over thousands of hours of sessions, their feedback ultimately became Lupl, a next-generation matter management and collaboration platform co-developed with the support of legal departments and law firms.
Its features include:
- One platform, one password.
- 57-second setup, no training.
- Real-time, 360-degree view across matters.
- Drag and drop document sharing and collaboration.
- Powerful matter and workflow templates.
- Open and integrated – bring your own system.
See why 500 organizations have ditched the portal
More than 500 law firms and legal departments have already ditched the portal and experienced a better way with Lupl.
Curious to see what different looks like?