Fasken is putting client collaboration and matter management front and centre with its new client portal Fasken Edge.
As a practitioner of business law for almost 40 years, I am familiar with past practices and excited about the opportunities that Fasken Edge provides for the future.
In the distant past – when I began practising – the logistics of keeping clients informed of the status of their matter, and for soliciting feedback and instructions, were difficult. Letters were drafted and mailed to provide updates. Instructions required scheduling in-person meetings or phone calls. The delivery of soft copies of documents, which we take for granted now, was unknown. In the early 1980s, word processing and fax services were the types of innovation that law firms and clients were experiencing for the first time.
Even with the widespread use of email and access to improved technologies, the completion of a client project, such as a share purchase transaction, in the not-so-distant past could be cumbersome, lengthy and costly. The steps involved in the transaction were typically addressed separately and not in an integrated way. Due diligence was effected by transmitting documents from one party to another for review or by depositing the documents in a data room that the other party could visit to effect such a review.
The data room was at one time an actual physical data room! Document collaboration typically involved the exchange of documents by email or courier, with comments provided by marking-up drafts by hand or electronically or preparing new versions of the drafts and then transmitting the comments or new versions back by email or courier. The signature of documents for closing used to take place at an actual closing event that all signatories attended. Finally, the reporting and billing steps were effected manually and sometimes long after the closing had been completed.
A major development component of Fasken's innovation strategy has been to find ways to work better for and with our clients – to give them visibility into their matters and their legal spend. Thus, the launch of Fasken Edge, a digital collaboration platform that makes it easier for clients to work with Fasken and to manage their matters.
In the context of a specific client project (a share purchase transaction, for example) Fasken Edge is used to create a dedicated portal to which all of the authorized participants in the transaction and their lawyers can have access. Fasken Edge is cloud-based and available from any device, including mobile devices, with access to the Internet. It is a much more secure and efficient way of exchanging information than by traditional email methods, and it is easy to use.
Each Fasken Edge portal provides clients with integrated project management functions, such as:
calendar and task assignment,
document creation capabilities using automated templates,
efficient document uploading (and associated sharing and storage),
document access (with varying levels of permission as determined by the client),
document revision, document comparison, automatic activity notification (with the frequency desired by users),
integrated electronic signature (DocuSign) capability,
database integration capability and data visualization (which could be used, for example, to track legal expenses with the Fasken client accounting system) and
secure messaging capability for all of the participants in the site.
Almost all of the steps in client matter can be effected within the one integrated portal offered by Fasken Edge. All of the same functions for delivering traditional legal services are present and can be dealt with in a much more efficient way. Using Fasken Edge gives clients more control over the legal process and saves them time and money over the methods used formerly.
The capabilities of Fasken Edge can be enhanced with the use of other innovative services that Fasken offers to its clients, such as contract analysis software that uses artificial intelligence to automatically identify and extract user-specified provisions into summary charts.
Fasken Edge's capabilities go well beyond transaction management and can be used by clients to take control of all their legal matters and to enhance their collaboration with Fasken and others.
For more information about Fasken Edge, see the client webinar that was held on Feb. 22, 2019, (Simplify Matter Management with Our Client Portal-Fasken Edge) or contact any member of the Fasken team.
Stephen Whitehead is a counsel with the Fasken Ottawa office who practices extensively in communications and business law. He is currently the executive editor of Capital Perspectives.