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Law firm proliferates connections using contact management system

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Lynn McGuire, CIO at Houston-based law firm Andrews Kurth, was on a mission in March 2008 to help the firm locate an alternative relationship management solution to drive new business.

After seeing a demonstration of an enterprise relationship management (ERM) system from Hubbard One, McGuire phoned Deborah Grabein, Andrews Kurth director of marketing. “While ERM is not a substitute for CRM, it was the right tool to help us manage information that was needed for proposals, etc.,” Grabein said.

The firm had plenty of information needs. With more than 900 staffers worldwide, its marketing department relied heavily on phone calls, e-mails and scores of documents to collect key relationship information from current and potential clients.

Grabein knew this process was time-consuming and inefficient, and that the firm needed a program it could automatically mine for data for its attorneys and staff without manual labor.

Enter ContactNet, a search engine that automatically maps a firm’s external relationship network, identifies business contacts and calculates the strength of each individual, company and industry affiliation.

“Information is gathered automatically from predefined sources in the firm, including MS Exchange contacts and e-mail message logs from all offices,” said Grabein. “ContactNet assigns a relevance score to relationships based on information it analyzes from multiple data sources. For our firm, that is based on 38 variables, which include the recency and frequency of e-mail exchanges and address book data. Colleagues with the strongest relationships appear at the top of our search results list.”

The application was made accessible on the firm’s intranet, along with a reference guide sent to all employees via e-mail and promoted in the firm’s internal newsletter.

After a well-received demonstration to in-house committees, including the marketing steering committee, all the partners were given a demo.

“We also provided a demo and training for all lawyers at several practice group meetings,” Grabein said. “We launched internally with a pilot group for two weeks and then firmwide to all staff.”

Andrews Kurth began using ContactNet to help its attorneys quickly research firm associates within specific cities and locations while they were on business trips to schedule additional client services meetings, conferences, seminars and webinars worldwide.

ContactNet also organized relationships to create mailing lists for client and prospect newsletters, alerts and annual reports.

Less than six months later, Andrews Kurth identified more than 625,000 relationships to over 380,000 contacts employed at more than 27,000 companies.

About the new application, Grabein said, “ContactNet has been exceptionally easy to use without any pain points. [It] allows us to search and find valuable relationships Andrews Kurth has been building for years in an instant and maintain those relationships, as well as provide better client service and execute on more efficient marketing programs.”

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