Most legal teams rely heavily on documents and communication for their work, and handling all the related operations may not be as simple as you would like it to be. Unless you change your approach to document management and start exploring tech solutions that improve team efficiency.
Automation software has helped many businesses and departments streamline all or most of their operations and improve their efficiency. The same can be done for a legal team.
In this article, let’s focus on the types of automation software for in-house counsel along with some of the top examples.
1. Matter Management
All legal matters require abundant paperwork, such as budgets, forms, reports, and invoices. And in disputes that go on for years, the paperwork can fill up the archives to bursting point.
But weight isn’t the only issue here. How do you know if you’re still on track with the budget, for example, or what the progress on a certain matter is? Without a dedicated tool, you’ll waste a lot of time trying to pull certain information.
In-house legal matter management software, on the other hand, can streamline legal operations because it facilitates the following:
- having one place for creating, storing, and sharing case files that ensures easy collaboration;
- organization of matter details specific to different clients or projects;
- customized reminders to track deadlines; and
- tracking of progress of specific matter-related tasks.
A good example is BusyLamp’s Matter.Space because it acts as a single source of truth for matter-related data, like emails, documents, deadlines, and external advisors. This helps create an in-depth architectural view of your legal activities.
2. Contract Lifecycle Management
Contracts have a lifecycle that consists of several stages including contract creation, collaboration, review, approval, signing, storage and analysis, and obligations tracking.
Without any form of visualization, it’s just a lot of paper and verbal agreements. You won’t be able to keep track of the process at every stage of the lifecycle and do it efficiently. This results in human error, as well as time-wasting and higher costs.
In-house counsel software, on the other hand, facilitates the following processes:
- creation of workflows for procurement, sales, general business contracts, and internal agreements, to name a few;
- saving time on contract creation thanks to pre-approved core contract templates;
- real-time collaboration on contracts among team members and with other involved parties, such as making comments and suggestions;
- providing e-signatures to finalize contracts with remote partners;
- contract history so different versions of a document can be compared and used during negotiation;
- storing all contracts in a cloud so they can be retrieved at any moment, at any stage of the contract lifecycle; and
- evaluating contract performance based on its geography, client, etc.
One such document automation tool is AXDRAFT. It allows automating contract management online from drafting to storage, renewal, and analysis. This way, you can save up to 40% of your time spent processing contracts. It’s also perfect for collaboration in-team and with other stakeholders as the tool is web-based.
3. Outside Counsel Management
Outside counsel means outsourcing legal tasks. This can improve time and cost-efficiency as long as your partner firm is familiar with the type of work that you’re trying to outsource, and you can keep track of progress and the hours spent.
How do you know what stage the work is at without a space for collaboration? Sure, you could communicate with email, but that’s hardly the best task manager.
Outside counsel management software facilitates:
- real-time collaboration between in-house legal teams and outside vendors;
- streamlining the administrative processes to improve ROI;
- ensuring accountability of the vendor; and
- keeping track of the task progress and deadlines.
A good example is Dazychain because it can help you find and communicate with outsourcing partners and invoice them.
4. Knowledge and Document Management
An in-house legal document management system helps digitize and store any legal paper that your business produces. Such tools allow you to:
- tag and index information for future retrieval;
- save the history of changes; and
- create legal trails and document who accessed the data.
You could go beyond that and focus on retaining legal knowledge, instead of just documents. Basically, it becomes a company’s legal library in the form of a wiki or database and takes into account legal taxonomies. Such tools facilitate:
- information searches for legal information retrieval;
- collection of data from internal and external sources; and
- evidence discovery in tools that use AI.
Either type of software is far better than the simple scanning and storing in a computer folder. This option is time-consuming, inefficient, and doesn’t offer proper security.
An example of a document management tool is eFileCabinet where you can store and share files, like bills, testimonies, etc. It’s a good option if you need a filing system akin to a Google or OneDrive but that is tailored to organizing documents.
5. Tasks Management
Task management is the process of planning, tracking, executing, and reporting on a piece of work. The software takes on the role of tracking the progress, deadlines, assignees, and sub-tasks.
Without task-management software, the monitoring part is difficult. Who’s responsible? When is the task due? Where do you find the related documents?
The tools help answer those questions by facilitating the following:
- collaboration within the team and with other departments;
- monitoring of progress and deadlines on a task;
- monitoring the progress on a project via timeline and/or calendar features; and
- notification of collaborators in case of any changes in a task, such as comments or when the status or deadline is changed.
There are two great examples – Trello and Asana. Both have free versions and premium subscriptions with a timeline view and reporting options.
6. Reporting and Analytics
Any legal document produces data that can be extrapolated visually in the form of tables and charts. That’s what reporting and analytics tools are for – creating visual representations that can help you analyze the work of your legal team and with further decision-making.
Without reporting and analysis of data, it’s difficult to efficiently plan, forecast, and budget your legal team’s work.
The tools facilitate:
- collection of data across contracts;
- organization of data in an understandable way; and
- building of granular segmented reports for performance tracking.
AXDRAFT works for this purpose, too. It offers pre-defined metadata types thanks to which you can create custom reports and filter data for analysis.
Which In-House Tools Should Your Team Use?
Chances are, you’ll need to build out your tool kit gradually so that you can determine what works for your team and find in-house tools that address your most pressing issues.
You can start this kit with AXDRAFT because it facilitates several needs, including document automation, contract lifecycle management, reporting, and analytics. Contact us for a free demo to see how you can increase your workflow productivity.
An in-house legal team is a group of specialists who are intimately acquainted with the law and your company. Such a team supports a company’s business strategy with advice on ethical standards and legal risks. In some cases, the team can also look for ways to cut corners within the legal boundaries of the state or country where you operate.
An in-house legal team helps solve business problems, close deals, and deals with other matters like tax or employment-related issues.
Managing a legal department isn’t much different from managing any other team – you structure the workload, build trust, nurture talent, find ways to improve efficiency, and monitor performance. There are some distinctions, however, and the following KPIs may help:
– how much economic value your legal department generates;
– your current expenses;
– how much high- and low-value work your legal team does; and
– the workload that comes from other departments.
And here are a few more tips on managing a productive team:
1. Use task management software to manage the department workload.
2. Plan, budget, and track success using reporting tools.
3. Collaborate with other parties via CLM software.
Your company needs a legal department to ensure that your actions comply with local and state-wide laws, as well as to protect your business and its partnerships from a legal standpoint. It’s vital for accessing legal risks and your compliance with ethics and regulations, but it also helps out your company when it’s facing trouble within the boundaries of law.