September 2003  Volume 29, Issue 6
ABA Law Pracice Management Magazine, September 2003 Issue
       Send Feedback  Table of Contents
edited by Milton W. Zwicker
A step-by-step guide to implementing extranets for better client relationships. Plus, a compelling look at the marketing lessons learned by companies large and small.

The Lawyer's Guide to Extranets: Breaking Down Walls, Building Client Connections
Douglas Simpson and Mark Tamminga. (ABA Law Practice Management Section, 2003.) $69.95; LPM Section members: $59.95. PC: 511-0494. (800) 285-2221;


Extranets are private Internet-based sites accessible by users who have been provided with a password. While extranets are not as widely used as Web sites, their use in law firms is growing. Among the reasons are that extranets enhance communications with clients and reduce document distribution costs. They can be used firmwide or limited to departments, such as litigation, transactional or estate planning sections of a firm. Now there is a book that explains how firms of all sizes can create cost-efficient extranets to become more effective and profitable.

The Lawyer's Guide to Extranets was written by Douglas Simpson, a veteran lawyer and computer consultant, and Mark Tamminga, a practicing lawyer who has successfully automated his practice and served as chair of the Law Practice Management Section's ABA TECHSHOW® 2003.

The authors provide lawyers with a practical guide and avoid use of technical jargon. Their book is amply illustrated with case studies, diagrams, checklists, flowcharts and sample pages from extranet sites.

It also includes a checklist for creating an extranet and an annotated list of companies that assist law firms with building an extranet or utilizing a prepackaged solution.

The 186 pages of The Lawyer's Guide to Extranets are divided into seven chapters that cover security, costs, benefits, planning and the lawyer-client relationship, as well as legal, ethical and operational issues. In addition, the final chapter provides an overview of support and maintenance, disaster recovery and backup procedures. Simpson and Tamminga provide readers with a thorough explanation of matters to be considered before creating an extranet. They also make good use of case studies to demonstrate the successes and failures encountered by firms that have used this important Web tool.
This new book is an excellent introduction for readers who want to create an extranet for their firm or for a department within their firm. It is also worthwhile reading for those whose interest is limited to learning how small, medium and large firms are using extranets to benefit their clients and achieve cost-saving efficiencies.

Michael L. Goldblatt ( is Associate General Counsel, Tidewater Inc., in New Orleans.

What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business
Harry Beckwith. (Warner Books, 2003.) $21.95. ISBN: 0-446-52755-6.

My view of the war in Iraq came from the pictures I saw on CNN. Most of those pictures were from the embedded journalists who traveled with the soldiers, providing many compelling snapshots of war on the battlefield. The military generals, however, were quick to remind us not to take the snapshots as indicators of the war's progress. They advised that a "big picture look" is necessary to understand the progress of events.

Harry Beckwith's latest book, What Clients Love, reminds me of the compelling snapshots by the embedded journalists. The author, for example, asks, "Why plan?" His answer: "Because the value of planning is not in the plan but in the planning. Planning teaches you and your colleagues about your business, market, customers and each other." You will not get a big-picture look at planning or many other subjects that Beckwith covers in his latest book. You will find what he says about planning on one page: It is a snapshot of planning-but it is a snapshot with a powerful message.

Beckwith, who is also the author of the marketing best-sellers The Invisible Touch and Selling the Invisible, fills this new volume with many powerful marketing messages. In his introduction, he writes, "This book is the lessons from … mistakes and the successes of many companies, huge and small." They are lessons I find very persuasive. Let's look at some of them:
n Marketing literature for law firms is full of articles that implore us to listen to our clients. According to Beckwith, this idea rests on a flawed assumption. It assumes that people say what they think. Instead, he advises, "Stop listening and start looking."

  • Beware of common sense. Common sense goes only so far. Breakthroughs require imagination.

  • The Internet gives but alsotakes. By lulling us into thinking that electronic communication can replace face-to-face contact, the Internet leads us to neglect our relationships-which we cannot.

  • Often we cannot hear words, but we notice images, especially appealing ones. To be heard, you must say something different--and visual.

  • People regard a person's ability to communicate clearly as the strongest evidence of that person's expertise. The clearer the communication, the more expert the communicator.

  • "World-class, leading-edge, ISO900 certified, superior-quality, cost-effective, commitment to excellence, proactive"-no one believes those anymore. Everyone knows of several companies that proclaimed they were world-class right up to the morning their lawyers first trudged into bankruptcy court. Beckwith says to, "Remove every adjective like 'excellent' and replace them with proof."

Another valuable point that Beckwith drives home is that you cannot hurry a relationship. And because selling today involves selling relationships, you cannot hurry the sale of service. Thus, you need to cultivate your--and your people's--relationship skills.

This book may not give you the big-picture look, but if you apply the lessons it will help you to follow essential rules and do many little things better.

Milton W. Zwicker ( is Managing Partner of Zwicker Evans & Lewis in Orillia, ONT, and the author of Successful Client Newsletters (ABA, 1998).