Legal teams are essential threads in the fabric of larger companies and organizations. Without these groups, businesses become more vulnerable to regulatory compliance issues and may have trouble navigating typical functions, such as hiring. Because legal teams spend a lot of time with research, paperwork, and negotiations, they need as much support as possible.
All those details can be cumbersome to track, organize, and pass between individual stakeholders. That’s why it’s critical to support your legal department with a well-rounded set of tools. The right combination makes the group’s daily tasks more efficient and streamlined. Below we’ll discuss four tools that can assist your legal team’s employees with their routine processes and activities.
1. Contract Management Software
Contracts are a large part of what lawyers and legal assistants oversee. Some contracts, such as non-disclosure agreements, may be standardized for employees and vendors. However, other contract documents require additional effort and customization.
Regardless of what contracts legal teams deal with, there’s a need for signatures and record-keeping. They must also enable the actual contract negotiations, draft contracts, and sync up with the other departments involved. Streamlining workflows, gathering digital signatures, and distributing or storing contracts electronically will eliminate many inconveniences for your legal staff. A contract management platform addresses all of these support demands.
Most contract management software allows legal teams to create and manage workflows that reduce or eliminate emails. For example, a workflow can send contracts from one team member to another for additions or changes. The same process will distribute the documents for final reviews, approvals, and signatures. Plus, the software will store individual copies of contracts for all parties, reducing the chances of their getting misplaced.
2. Research Platforms
Statistics from the American Bar Association reveal lawyers spend about 18% of their daily time researching. Many start with the same online research tools most people use for general or everyday research. Think online search engines and legal news outlets, including free and paid options.
Gathering facts and data this way isn’t always the most efficient route. Legal teams must find and sort through information from multiple sources. Also, attorneys and paralegals have to hone their search strategies, such as choosing relevant keywords and online search techniques. They may lose productivity while discovering what works best for each information source through trial and error. Synching and compiling data across several sources can also be a time hog.
Fortunately, legal research software solutions can put all those data sources under one platform. Lawyers and their support staff can locate what they need on a topic with a single search. That could be a state’s mandate on sick pay or a law outlining specific procedures for reporting data breaches. It might also be prior legal cases that will support arguments for an established precedent. Teams can save search time and automatically centralize all relevant research.
3. Collaboration Tools
Collaboration tools help members of legal teams combine their individual efforts and keep tasks moving, despite different work locations or schedules. These tools make it easier to manage and communicate critical details, such as deadlines. Legal teams can also keep employees from other departments in the loop and ensure the relevant parties sign off on their contributions.
For instance, some companies might work with public sector clients and routinely submit requests for proposals. A bidding process may be necessary for public sector organizations that purchase solutions exceeding specific dollar amounts. Managers or directors from those organizations will solicit RFPs from vendors. Usually, businesses or vendors submitting RFPs follow predetermined document requirements and draft sample agreements.
The legal, sales, and finance departments might need to work together to draft those documents and agreements. Collaboration software lets everyone see how tasks are progressing, who should step in next, and what deadlines must be met. Attorneys won’t spend unnecessary time in meetings or on the phone since collaboration tool features will spell out what all contributors must know. They can communicate any feedback or last-minute changes across the board at once.
4. Document Automation Software
Contracts aren’t the only documents legal teams handle. Other common examples include routine internal and external communications, compliance checklists, and HR-related agreements. Businesses may need employees to sign confidentiality agreements and make them available through HR portals. Legal departments might also want to tweak or update these agreements as employment laws or compliance requirements change.
Companies with employees who work with customers in various states may also operate under different consumer privacy laws. The California Consumer Privacy Act is one example. Multiple compliance requirements make a legal team’s job of drafting and managing applicable employee agreements more complicated. But document automation software reduces some of those complexities and simplifies a business’s obligations.
Document automation tools also offer templates for letters and other communications that legal teams frequently create. They don’t have to start from scratch or research best practices. Legal team members can customize or personalize certain details and automate specific notifications. Another thing the software can do is automatically send routine communications according to preset conditions or triggers. This gives lawyers and their support staff additional time to focus on more complex tasks.
Supportive Tools for In-House Legal Teams
More than likely, your legal team has to work at a fast pace while meeting crucial deadlines. The group must also take care of the fine print, ensuring all details are in order. Inefficiencies and disruptions won’t do your legal team or your business any favors. But by giving legal staff tools that make their processes more efficient, you’ll empower rather than impede their success.