5 June 2023

Using technology to simplify legal workflow

Author: Sacha Kirk Insights Resources

Managing legal workflows can be a daunting task requiring much time and effort. From drafting legal documents to managing matters and billing, many aspects of legal workflows need to be handled carefully.

However, in-house counsel can simplify these workflows and increase efficiency with the right strategies.

Drafting documents

Drafting legal documents can be a time-consuming process. Legal documents require precision and accuracy, which can take a lot of time and effort to create. However, some strategies can help simplify the document process. Document automation uncovers a myriad of possibilities for in-house legal teams. With standard agreements and contracts deployed as ‘self-service’, you can save time and improve your internal clients’ service delivery. Supported by the legal team, this enables the greater business to generate NDAs, confidentiality agreements, and other routine documents or templates in minutes rather than hours. Automated drafts of documents can also be routed to the legal team for review and approval. Effectively using workflows and automation, in-house lawyers can spend time on the work they enjoy and where they can add the most value. Importantly, the legal team should be able to easily demonstrate and report on the saved time and money, helping to support a return on investment.

Document execution sign off

An automated workflow can forward a document to the appropriate individual for approval, timestamp, or signature. If required, the creation of a multi-level approval process empowers the legal team to track individually triggered workflows to different business areas based on conditions of other workflows, ensuring all actions are created before the approvals and signatures of executives are sourced. Such a process can significantly benefit organisations with complex approval structures, including those with multiple levels, locations, jurisdictions, or departments.

Document management

Document management is also an essential aspect of legal workflows. Enriched automation functions that ensure all documents and communications are collated and accessible in one centralised matter is vital. Consider legal operations software that has integrations with email service providers such as Microsoft Outlook and best practice document creation and editing software such as Microsoft Word within the one platform to enable ease of use. Document management features, including version control and editing and storage of all matter-related communication and documents, allow for a central repository that the legal team can access from one place, saving time and providing clear communication.

Some industries and organisations require the storage of records and documents in a separate document management system (DMS), i.e., Content Manager, iManage or SharePoint. Integrating your document and records management systems with a matter management system is fundamental to seamlessly transferring documents and records into the required system while still allowing a single source of truth.

Legal Intake

Legal intake and triage serve as the foundation for legal workflows, as they involve the receipt and assignment of legal matters by in-house legal teams. In this context, legal intake and triage entail receiving instructions from internal clients and matching the right legal personnel to the right task based on their expertise and availability. The primary objective of these workflows is to facilitate proper delegation, resource allocation, and efficient service delivery or issue resolution by in-house legal teams in a timely and cost-effective manner. Automation of these processes can be facilitated through legal technology.

Matter management

Matter management is another crucial aspect of legal workflows. Managing a legal matter involves keeping track of a large amount of information, including company contact information, deadlines, and key dates. One strategy to streamline matter management is utilising matter management software, which can provide a central location for all matter-related information. With this software, in-house lawyers can easily access the information they need. Some matter management software programs also include project management features, which can help in-house lawyers keep track of important deadlines and key dates. This can help ensure deadlines are met and matters are completed on time.

Spend management

Managing invoices for review and approval can be time-consuming for in-house lawyers, but some strategies can simplify these tasks. Spend management software with inbuilt law firm billing capabilities can automate the process, allowing in-house teams to easily keep track of invoices, approve payments and automate reporting. These strategies can save in-house lawyers time and energy, allowing them to focus on work that matters to the organisation.

Collaboration

Effective communication and collaboration are essential for any legal team. Strategies to facilitate communication and collaboration can help in-house lawyers work more efficiently, even when team members are not in the same location. Collaboration workspace software can make it easy for team members to communicate with each other, no matter where they are. Video conferencing software can also facilitate virtual meetings and allow team members to collaborate in real time.

Facilitating seamless collaboration and communication between the in-house team and their law firm is also necessary. Although the concept of client collaboration tools is familiar, the processes, capabilities and scope of functionality these tools provide have advanced significantly. The next generation of collaboration workspaces has evolved beyond file sharing and one-way communication flows towards real-time collaboration, project management, business intelligence (BI) reporting and much more.

Conclusion

There are many strategies in-house legal professionals can use to simplify legal workflow. From document drafting to matter management and billing, many aspects of legal workflows can be simplified with the right technology. By utilising centralised software, automation, and collaboration tools, in-house legal professionals can increase efficiency and focus on providing quality legal services to their organisations.

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