A “best-of-breed” solution for firms and clients alike
From its offices across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas, full-service law firm Nexsen Pruet represents businesses in virtually every industry. With a reach that spans across the map and 180 lawyers on its staff, it has a rich 75-year history and a forward-looking approach. In 2020 it implemented Thomson Reuters HighQ — the connected, automated workplace collaboration solution — with two key purposes in mind.
First, the firm wanted to enhance the power of the HighQ offering by using it to create customized extranets for clients, through which documents and data could be easily and securely shared in real time. And, just as important, it wanted to rationalize the wider array of software products it was using into one solution to improve efficiency and save costs.
Having seen HighQ in action at a previous firm he worked for, Chief Operating Officer Howard Janis knew there would be plenty of opportunities to maximize its benefits at Nexsen Pruet. He explains, "I want a best-of-breed solution for my firm and clients want best-of-breed solutions for their businesses. HighQ gets us there."
Efficiency and engagement via extranets
Although not all clients need their own extranet, Janis says that being able to offer this value-adding service — where appropriate — is “a huge selling point, demonstrating how we are supporting clients directly.” Clients get their own site, branded with their logo and with secure access, tailored to their needs. They can see data, share and edit files (all with version control built in), view status, and track progress, all up to date in real time. This helps clients feel more engaged in their matters and enables lawyers to work more effectively.
“Lawyers and clients alike are very happy with HighQ,” says Janis. “It helps the legal profession because you are working collaboratively. Clients can see results faster and because everyone is on the same page, there should be no misunderstandings.”
One of the major success stories Nexsen Pruet has already seen within its first year with HighQ is its ability to save money for its clients, above and beyond the efficiency improvements it delivers. One of the firm’s clients was planning to spend several thousands of dollars on having a third party create a deal room to house all its documents and data relating to a specific transaction.
Nexsen Pruet was able to use HighQ to set this up for them as part of the service, containing all the necessary files and information, with different permissions for different users, giving enormous flexibility. While the firm’s lawyers and clients can see everything they need, third parties involved in those deals can also access certain parts of the deal room, but they can be shut out of other areas.
This early win spurred the firm to look at using HighQ to provide external deal rooms for more clients and to consider how to use HighQ in other ways, such as for project, litigation, and compliance management. It is also starting to roll out the use of dashboards to improve data visibility even more and to explore how the iSheets module can further facilitate data flow across different parts of the system, acting as a central hub to track information and cross pollinate data.
HighQ also saves money for the firm itself. Having previously deployed different programs for file sharing generally — as well as for the specific purposes of circulating confidential Board documents — the benefits of moving everything into HighQ to deliver “more bang for our buck” were clear. For Janis, whose role also encompasses financial control of the firm, this is another major success story.
"By getting rid of software we don’t need and having an efficient, streamlined solution all in one place, we are boosting net income for the firm,” he says.
“Initially, buy-in was sought from the senior management team and the tech group and they loved it. They could see the benefits of HighQ and getting rid of all the other duplicative software we were using made it an even easier sell.”
The next goal is to have all partners in the firm using HighQ as an everyday tool to proactively pull out the information they need from the system into their own reports, putting greater control into their hands. Janis’ rationale is that it is easier, quicker, and more secure for them to create reports themselves, rather than having to have them sent to them by the knowledge management team.
Thankfully, the fact that HighQ is so simple to use and can be accessed from any device means this is an achievable prospect. Although Nexsen Pruet has done some training on using the solution, for the most part, Janis describes it as “self-explanatory.”
Maximizing knowledge management
When it comes to overall implementation, however, he advises having a project manager on board who understands the firm and its objectives to lead the process internally by helping determine the setup, what pieces of the solution to deploy and when, and how best to roll it out. For Nexsen Pruet, that person was the firm’s Director of Knowledge Management, who played a critical role in understanding potential users’ pain points and advocating the benefits of HighQ internally.
The firm has now developed a common methodology around how it manages its software and how it uses its data. Janis observes that in a short space of time, “We’re becoming more consistent in how we roll things out and there is less of a learning curve.”
To Janis, knowledge management — as facilitated by HighQ — is right at the core of the business of law today, and the direction of travel is clear.
"We’re using technology more and more to drive success and HighQ is a big part of that. It has made a huge difference operationally and professionally with clients” he says.
Established in 1945, Nexsen Pruet operates out of eight U.S. offices in the Carolinas and one in Austin, Texas. Practice areas span intellectual property, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, litigation, and international law; in addition to corporate, employment, tax law, and many more.
To rationalize the different file-sharing software products the firm was using into a single solution, cutting direct costs, and delivering efficiency gains. Moreover, the firm saw significant potential value in offering customized extranets to clients to facilitate collaboration and enhance visibility over matters.
Having seen HighQ in use at another firm, the firm’s COO knew it could meet all these needs, enabling the firm to simultaneously save money and impress clients. Senior management was quickly convinced too and in short time it has had a transformative effect internally and externally.
- Holistic and keeps all the firm’s data and document sharing and collaboration needs in one place
- Clients like having their own personalized, secure extranets
- Easy to use, helping to encourage widespread adoption across the firm
- Improves internal efficiency and enables lawyers to deliver better service to clients