You want your legal team to operate with efficiency and accuracy. After all, the group is one of the pillars of your organization. When the department runs into roadblocks caused by unnecessary delays and errors, the unwanted effects can linger for months or even years.
It’s wishful thinking to expect a legal department to perform well based on willpower alone, however. Without giving the group the tools to succeed, you could be holding them back.
While the law and innovation don’t always seem to go together, your team absolutely needs technology to manage its demands. Below we’ll explore tools like contract management and collaboration software that can support your team’s work.
1. Contract Management Platforms
What do legal departments deal with over and over? If you guessed contracts, you’re right. But there’s more to managing the paperwork than the signed, sealed, and delivered documents everyone sees. Behind the scenes are all the client meetings, drafts, revisions, and cross-collaboration.
It sounds like a whirlwind of activity, and it usually is. This flurry of tasks means there are plenty of opportunities for mishaps. No one wants to misplace the final document before the client meeting at 9 a.m. sharp Monday morning.
Neither does the team want to overlook the revisions a client sent two weeks ago. Scrambling at the last minute isn’t productive and can set employees up for more mistakes.
But imagine if your team has a tool to organize and track everything contract-related. They’ll have a way to keep vital information all in one place, set reminders, and automate repetitive tasks. It’s what contract management software can provide on top of insights your team will use to improve their processes. With centralized management platforms available, letting your department fall behind with insufficient tools like email doesn’t make sense.
2. Online Appointment Scheduling Software
The tech industry isn’t the only one shaken up by layoffs and hiring freezes. Hiring for U.S. law firms declined by almost 12% in 2022. Some well-known firms have also cut staff to control costs or account for a drop in mergers and acquisitions. Headcount reductions aren’t just impacting attorneys. These cuts are extending to support staff, including paralegals and assistants.
Less support staff means fewer people to handle client-facing tasks, such as scheduling appointments. Full-featured scheduling software lets firms continue to manage the volume of clients’ requests even though the staff count may be down. Instead of playing phone tag, clients can instantly see open time slots. From the web-based software, your clients can set up and confirm appointments themselves.
Scheduling platforms can sync with multiple lawyers’ calendars, updating them with new appointments in real-time. Both the clients and attorneys receive notifications, including reminders of upcoming meetings. The software can automatically include videoconferencing links for virtual consults, eliminating the need for separate emails. As a result, support staff have more time to devote to tasks like case research.
3. AI-Driven Research Tools
Speaking of research, it can take paralegals hours to find relevant case law and previous rulings. These details are necessary to track down, as they bolster arguments based on precedent. Yet manual searches can slow a team down, especially if they’re unfamiliar with specific types of cases.
Thankfully, AI-driven research software allows legal teams to cut to the chase quicker. A paralegal can upload a pending case document into the tool, and the algorithm will get to work. The software will locate applicable case law and prior rulings within minutes. While the team will want to double-check the results, it’s far faster than starting from scratch.
The tool might also find obscure rulings a human being could miss. Research software backed by AI can easily discover conflicting past decisions that could impact a case. Research tools synthesize patterns in case outcomes, impending related cases, and reversed precedents. The software saves time while increasing the chances of successfully arguing a client’s position.
4. Collaboration Apps
Gartner’s research predicts law firms will replace 20% of general lawyers with non-lawyer staff by 2024. The data also indicates project managers for legal teams are one of those roles. Gartner notes that law firms have increased investments in project manager roles by 56%. As a result, legal departments will be more diverse in skill sets and professional backgrounds.
There may be someone without legal credentials in charge of managing team projects. This means that communication and collaboration, already crucial, will take center stage. Project managers and their teams won’t get by without a tool to facilitate understanding between roles. Collaboration apps with robust project management and communication features can no longer be wish-list items.
Equipping your team with collaboration software supports the rising legal team project manager role. Simultaneously, these platforms keep the group on the same page, ease task handoffs, and enable different forms of communication.
It’s not a problem if everyone’s not in the office or working the same hours. Asynchronous discussions can happen and be visible enough to keep the entire group in the loop. Real-time collaboration can also take place in efficient ways.
Helping Your Team Shine
Giving your legal team pep talks is all well and good, but words fall flat when you don’t support your team in other ways. That includes providing them with the right tools to do the job.
Complex responsibilities, in combination with shrinking and diverse teams, make technology a useful ally. Cutting-edge software for contract management, scheduling, research, and collaboration will enable your legal department to shine.