Differentiate Your Trademark Practice with Docketing Access for Clients
Lauren Amanda Adler | July 13, 2021
When pitching clients in a crowded market, it’s important to distinguish yourself from competitors and create a client-centered experience. Last year at Alt Legal Connect, Clio Co-founder and CEO Jack Newton explained that consumers across all industries demand an effortless experience. While many legal service providers have been slow to adopt this approach, the faster you can implement a client-centered experience, the more likely you will be able to develop, retain and grow long-lasting business relationships.
Uniqueness of IP Practice
IP stands out from other areas of practice when you consider the nature and longevity of matters, including ongoing deadlines to support renewal and use requirements across the globe. IP clients and stakeholders want to know the current statuses of their marks and stay updated on PTO issues, third-party infringement concerns, and ongoing renewal and use requirements. Each client’s IP portfolio, communication preferences, and expectations for how often and what they want from a reporting perspective is also unique. These factors present both a challenge and opportunity for trademark practices.
Challenge: How do you provide an individual approach to each client without spending an exorbitant number of hours creating and circulating reports, just to have them become outdated in a matter of days
Opportunity: Give clients real-time access to their portfolios, so that they can see exactly what is happening with their important IP matters at any moment. Hint: This could be one important aspect of developing your firm’s client-centered experience.
Docket Access as a Client Value-Add
Providing clients with real-time access to see what’s happening with their IP portfolios can be accomplished with docket access. If you’re reading this article, your firm likely has an IP docketing system, and you’re either wondering whether it’s possible to provide access to clients or thinking about all the reasons why providing access could be difficult or risky. If you have a docketing system that allows for client access, here are a few considerations before taking this next step.
- Client Interest: Clients want to know what’s happening with their portfolios, but they may or may not want to be responsible for proactively accessing a docketing system to find out. This is a great opportunity for you to talk with your clients about their preferences. Ask questions about how well your firm is currently doing with keeping them updated, how your firm compares to other firms, and whether having direct access to your docketing system would be beneficial.
- Cost: Each docketing provider has a different pricing model, with some companies not charging fees for additional users and others charging extra for each “seat” or “license.” Prices can range from $200 to $1,000 annually for a single read-only “seat” to access the docketing platform. When this cost is applied to multiple clients, your docketing software fees skyrocket, and it can be difficult to recover the cost.
- Docketing System User Experience: It’s important to ensure that your clients have a good experience using your docketing system. If the system is complex and hard to navigate, providing access would be counterintuitive to providing exceptional client experiences.
- Docketing System Levels of Access: Ensure that your docketing system has the capability to limit access to read-only, as well as the ability to limit what the client can see. For instance, if you include internal notes within a record, you likely don’t want the client to have access to see these notes. You likely want them to be able to view records, but not make edits, clear deadlines, or add or delete matters from your docket.
Docket Access as a Differentiator
Clients want to work with firms that are implementing technology to increase efficiencies and collaboration, as well as reduce administrative costs. Here are a few ways that offering docketing access differentiates your firm from other trademark practices and firms.
Technology Forward: Providing access to technology not only makes it easier for your clients to stay current on the status of their IP matters, it’s also a great way for you to highlight your firm’s focus on technology. Find ways to include this within client pitches, the firm’s web site and during conversations with clients.
Reduce Costs: Clients oftentimes will not pay for administrative tasks and even if they do, it may reflect negatively on your firm. Providing direct docket access reduces the need to perform administrative tasks such as pulling and circulating regular docketing reports.
Enhanced Collaboration and Visibility: Sharing your docketing environment creates a virtual bridge between your firm and the client and promotes collaboration. In addition, it’s a great way to stay top-of-mind with clients, since they will be seeing your firm’s name every time they access the docketing system.
Look for ways to provide exceptional experiences for your clients and set yourself apart from competitors. Clients have a lot of options when it comes to IP counsel: how will you stand out?
If you’re interested in learning about Alt Legal’s approach to helping our law firm customers extend their docketing platform to clients at no additional cost, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our customers love the flexibility of our intuitive platform and options for providing different levels of permissions and access for internal and external stakeholders.