Piper Rudnick LLP, one of the nations largest law firms, has built an airtight case for hosted applications. Over the past five years, the Baltimore-based firm has increasingly outsourced its online systems to Hubbard One, a Chicago solutions provider that specializes in hosted applications for the legal industry.
Through the relationship, Piper Rudnick has gained secure extranets that enhance communications with its clients.
But thats not all. Over the next few weeks, Hubbard One will extend those extranets to support former Piper Rudnick employees and potential clients—two prime audiences for revenue growth.
The extranets have “generated a lot of excitement at the firm,” said Michael Campbell, a marketing technology manager at Piper Rudnick. “Fortunately, the rollouts have required almost no involvement of our technology team since Hubbard is deploying, hosting and maintaining the system for us.”
Like many modern solutions providers, Hubbard One is more than a Web integrator, site designer or traditional consulting firm. Since its founding in 1997, the company has developed its own software platform, known as FirmConnect, for its clients.
Instead of pursuing the shrink-wrap market, Hubbard One zeroed in on outsourcing opportunities and promotes FirmConnect as a hosted solution for the legal sector. The company has spent more than $1 million designing a hosting facility in Chicago that features redundant OC-3 connectivity and 24-by-7 technology support. Hubbard One eschews other vertical market opportunities to maintain a laserlike focus on its legal customers.
“Its certainly a unique vertical,” said Peter Lesser, co-founder of KKL, in New York. “You really have to understand the inner workings of the legal system to succeed in this vertical.”
“General business knowledge is a great base to build on, but what our clients value most is our combination of technology and specific legal industry domain expertise,” said Kent Zimmerman, vice president of Hubbard One. “We live and breathe the business of law.”
Many law firms applaud Hubbard Ones approach to business. More than 30 percent of the countrys 200 largest law firms outsource their applications to the Microsoft Certified Partner. Privately held Hubbard One doesnt disclose its revenue, but annual sales are on track to grow 25 to 30 percent this year, according to a company spokesman.
Piper Rudnick ranks among Hubbard Ones larger customers. The firm has more than 975 lawyers, who specialize in such areas as litigation, real estate, business, government affairs and international legal services.
Eager to expand its business, Piper Rudnick this month is extending its extranet with two new components. The first is a prospecting software system; the second allows former Piper Rudnick attorneys to interact with the law firm. Like its current extranets, the new systems are password-protected and use the Secure Sockets Layer protocol to further enhance security. Approved users need only a Web browser to access the system.
The prospecting software “will allow us to invite high-value prospective clients of the firm to a Web site that will provide targeted introductions and experience profiles of relevant portions of the firm,” said Pipers Campbell. “The information will be presented in a way that is most interesting to a particular prospect.”
For example, if a pharmaceutical companys general counsel is interested in mergers and acquisitions, Pipers prospecting system will circumvent general marketing information and zero in on the firms M&A expertise.
Also this month, Piper Rudnick will launch an alumni extranet that provides closer online ties to former employees who are now in-house general counsels within corporations.
The alumni extranet will feature an alumni directory, events calendar, job postings, discussion groups and Piper-oriented news.
By years end, Hubbard One will completely overhaul Pipers public-facing Web site. The firm is also considering recruiting software that reaches out to qualified law students in a private, professional manner.
Of course, such power comes with a price. Hubbard One typically charges $10,000 to $80,000 per application (depending on firm size), and deployment services cost about $5,000 to $30,000 per application. Generally speaking, customers that embrace the hosted-application model pay Hubbard One a monthly hosting fee of $750 to $3,000 per application and an 18 percent annual software maintenance fee.
Joseph C. Panettieri is editorial director at the New York Institute of Technology. He can be reached at [email protected]