Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Data Sharing to Show Experience - Can You Show Too Much?

My colleague David Hobbie pointed out in my prior post that providing information on all of the published cases could make too much information available. Nobody wins them all, so there will be losers and winners in the list.

The cases are published and publicly available, so there is no issue with revealing client confidences. But both the client and the law firm would probably not want to display their devastating losses.

I would assume that the listed decision would go through a vetting process with the responsible attorney before it is posted. However, the marketing group could discover the information and initiate the process, rather than waiting on the attorney to provide the information. That removes one of the limitations in the system.

Should a law firm should post all of the decisions? the good and the bad?

There is a growing movement of transparency in the business world. In The Naked Corporation, the authors take the position that a business must make itself visible to its shareholders, employees and customers.

Wired Magazine had an article by Clive Thompson on this: The See-Through CEO. "Transparency is a judo move. Your customers are going to poke around in your business anyway, and your workers are going to blab about internal info - so why not make it work for you. . . "

As the authors of The Naked Corporation point out, "Transparency means more than making things visible; it also means taking action on what you see. " It is hard to show what action you have may taken from the problematic result in the final endgame that is a courtroom decision. You could point out that you learn as much from your losses as you do from you victories. Therefore, the law firm has experience in that venue and on that topic.

Are law firms ready for transparency?

I do not think that law firms are far enough into the internet age to be worrying about the spin of bloggers and online postings. A snippet from the Wired article sets the example of a blogger who wrote about terrible treatment by Dell's customer service, their "posts were so gleefully linked to that for a while they appeared as the number one and two search results for "Dell.""

Run a search a search against your law firm's name and see what comes up. The results against my firm were pretty boring. Nothing bad. (Nothing all that good either).

I do not see the need to worry about the spin of bloggers or other online postings about the law firm. Yet.

There are ethical limitations on using a client's name. See this update.

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