How a new tool can improve the efficiency of transactional lawyers.
By Al Harrison
For transactional lawyers, many of the most popular legal research tools seem to be geared only toward litigators thanks to their focus on caselaw, but a recent trend of new software aiming to bridge that gap has emerged. One such web application is Thomson Reuters’ Practice Point. Launched last year, the subscription-based service for transactional attorneys in specific practice areas and corporate counsel focuses on tasks transactional practitioners commonly encounter. It provides workflow tools, practice notes, interactive forms and clauses, checklists, timelines, flowcharts and market trends, company information, treatises, Security and Exchange Commission filings, and other regulatory materials curated by attorney-editors selected from in-house legal departments throughout the U.S. The goal is to gather the most relevant and useful information from both Westlaw and Practical Law, organized based on routinely performed tasks.
Practice Point was designed to mirror typical attorney workflow behavior: It uses a menu structured by practice concentration and by task—commensurate with how attorneys solve problems—enabling practitioners to pinpoint prerequisite assignments to achieve their desired objectives. However, the service’s resources may also be tapped using traditional Westlaw search procedures. Each task-based starting screen or homepage depends upon whether a subscriber is an attorney practicing with a law firm or an attorney practicing as corporate counsel.
For law firm subscribers, an attorney would typically select one of many practice concentrations, including antitrust, capital markets and corporate governance, commercial transactions, corporate and mergers and acquisitions, employee benefits and executive compensation, intellectual property and technology, federal civil practice, finance, labor and employment, or real estate. For corporate counsel subscribers typically in in-house law departments, the start page allows the selection of any of the same practice concentrations and also specific types of projects, such as mergers and acquisitions, establishing or disposing of a business, financing a business, business operations, establishing and monitoring legal and regulatory compliance, managing risk, and claims and litigation. After selecting a practice concentration and type of project, a subscriber can browse content levels by task or by content type. For example, in the context of intellectual property and technology, an attorney can narrow his or her task to areas such as patent counseling and transactions, trademarks and right of publicity, copyright, or privacy and data security.
A feature unique to Practice Point is Rulebooks: a collection of federal laws, rules, regulations, and agency materials related to specific types of corporate matters. Other tools include Q&As that give comparative analyses of topics of interest across multiple states, a case evaluator providing analysis of verdict trends related to particular topics, and reviews and comparisons of summaries of recent deals and filings.
With Practice Point, transactional attorneys and corporate counsel can consistently attain legal research efficiently. In my experience, the application provides exemplary search results without attorneys having to jump through conventional hoops.TBJ
AL HARRISON is a patent attorney practicing intellectual property and computer law in Houston with the firm of Harrison Law Office. He is a member of the State Bar Advertising Review Committee and is a frequent speaker at State Bar of Texas seminars pertaining to intellectual property and law practice technology issues.