Online battle pitches A&O in head-to-head with Linklaters

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Linklaters & Alliance are going head-to-head in the battle to win clients through online case management.

A&O is raising the stakes by stepping up its dealroom site, entitled newchange, and by introducing a caseroom specifically tailored to litigation clients.

And Linklaters is launching its own long-awaited client extranet site, dubbed Clients@Linklaters.

Both products aim to win business through 24-hour access to works in progress.

Linklaters’ product is tailored to meet the needs of different clients and individuals within client companies, and gives access to contact, deal and financial information. It has already been piloted by Barclays Capital.

Banking partner and Barclays relationship partner Giles White says: “The whole point of this is to bring the relationship between clients and Linklaters closer together. It’s to make that communication as easy as possible for all of us, and to have that relationship available to them on a 24-hour basis.”

A&O’s e-business product newchange has been up and running since January, but it is now building a caseroom to streamline litigation case management. Unlike dealroom, access is only granted to A&O users, the client and its advisers, rather than all of the parties involved in the transaction.

Litigation partner Guy Henderson says: “What we’re trying to do is to do the job better and faster. I see this as an opportunity for us to play quite an important role in adding value.”

Clients@Linklaters has no specific litigation section, although White says it can be adapted to deal with those cases in the same way as deals are handled.

Linklaters claims that its system is the first to give clients and individuals the choice of what information they have available, and to provide deal bills and entire billing histories online.

White says: “This product enables direct access by a client into a whole series of areas in our IT system, and I don’t believe that anyone in the market has done that yet.”

A&O can set up folders to give clients billing details on a case-by-case basis, as can Clifford Chance through its product.

Both can tailor security access to suit particular clients and individuals, as can Freshfields through its unnamed dealroom product.