Articles filed under Intranets

LD Hub iconLeigh Day has expanded rapidly since 1987. In 2007 the firm decided to develop an intranet, going live on 17 October 2007 which served us well for 10 years but a decade after the first project we felt that a new, more up-to-date and accessible intranet was needed to help maintain the special Leigh Day ethos following the firm’s rapid growth and to help people work more effectively.

Leigh Day & Co is a 24-partner firm in London that specialises in clinical negligence, personal injury and human rights law. In 2006 I was asked to help commission a new intranet for the firm in 2006, which launched in October 2007. What lessons have we learnt since then?

The desire to develop the intranet at leigh Day & Co was driven by the desire to move away from a paper copy of the office manual, a Word document that ran to several hundred pages and covered every aspect of the firm’s professional life.

Implementing an intranet is hard work; it spreads its tentacles right across the firm or chambers (or should do), it takes considerable skill on behalf of the people doing it, it is a major drain on their time and there are real costs (both staff time and IT related).

We needed an intranet, but there was nothing on the market which fitted our requirements. With a limited budget, we didn’t want to buy new servers, hardware or software, nor did we want the expense of individual user licence fees. We wanted something suitable for a small- to medium-sized law firm that would be functional and relevant to our staff, delivering better communication and knowledge sharing across the firm using easy-to-navigate menus and supplying quick-links to case management systems, email, and work-related internet sites. We did not need flight booking facilities, canteen-queue webcams or time-zone clocks showing availability of staff in Shanghai. We are, after all, a Yorkshire firm!

With a packaged intranet you purchase the car, on the road ready to drive, fitted out with full accessories and features. Other vendors supply the build it approach. They give you the engine parts, the wheels and the panels and you are expected to put it together to create a car.

March’s article on SharePoint explained in some detail the “powerful and rather scary” services of the latest version. I believe that using SharePoint to publish to the web or to an intranet may contravene the Disability Discrimination Act, as the system doesn’t publish in a manner that adheres to internationally-recognised accessibility guidelines.

SharePoint is multi-purpose software that can serve many business and IT roles. It can ease staff, and authorised third parties’, access to information, while maintaining its security and integrity. It can also enable individual and team collaboration and information sharing, thereby improving efficiency and productivity, and facilitating the production of high quality, consistent output.

Larger firms have been using MicroSoft’s SharePoint for some time but smaller firms have generally not had the resources to do so. The latest release of SharePoint Server may enable them now to close the technological divide. Here are some of the ways that SharePoint can be used by smaller and medium-sized law firms.