Legal Technology: How Legal Operations Can Evaluate the Best Tools for Their Legal Team

Legal Technology: How Legal Operations Can Evaluate the Best Tools for Their Legal Team

Adopting technological solutions has become commonplace in legal practice as a way to streamline traditionally manual tasks and save costs. But resolving what tools will work best for your department can be tricky. 

With so many solutions that offer easy setup, affordable costs, and boast automation, legal ops teams now have an excellent time to delve into technology options and department performance to determine what tools can have the biggest impact on productivity and legal spend optimization.

How to Evaluate the Right Solutions for Your Needs 

Before you even start evaluating specific tools, you need to identify which areas of inefficiency your team should address first and how adopting tech solutions can build upon or transform existing workflows. The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) offers a fantastic resource on how to build out your own legal tech roadmap

When it comes to evaluating specific legal technology solutions, finding reputable vendors, confidentiality, and security are the most common concerns for legal teams, according to the ABA Tech Report of 2021. In fact, 96% of respondents said that the vendor's reputation is a significant factor in their decision-making process, and 61% of them listed confidentiality/security as one of their biggest concerns about cloud services. In addition, 43% of respondents said they lacked control over their data when using cloud services.

It’s therefore key to clear those concerns during your evaluation process, as well as consider other factors that will be relevant for the successful implementation and usage of your tool. Some useful questions you can ask yourself while assessing different solutions are:

Will the tool require a dedicated expert to operate it? Or is it user-friendly enough that anyone can use it?

How well does this tool integrate with your existing tech stack? What types of integrations will it need to incorporate? Will your team manage to go from software to software quickly?

Will the tool deliver positive ROI fast? Will this tool scale as your company and team grows? What is the change in costs as our department increases?

Does the vendor provide data migration and implementation assistance? Will one of your team members have to spend time cleaning up data to migrate? Does the company offer resources to help you implement the new tool? 

Does the company have support resources? How robust are their help desk and online resource center? What are their hours for customer service, and does that align with your business hours? Do they offer in-app chat? 

Will this tool meet your security policy standards? What are their best practices for securing company data? How do they ensure that your data is safe and protected? How does this company prevent hacking and cyber-attacks?

Does the tool have sufficient case studies and online reviews to support its credibility? What have the results been for companies similar to yours?

Common Challenges When Implementing Legal Tech

When finding and implementing new legal technology, legal ops teams can face multiple challenges, so it's important to anticipate them and find ways to proactively overcome them. Here are some of the most common ones:

Pushback on Cost: The cost of implementing new legal technology can be a significant source of resistance, especially when there’s no simple way of showing potential ROI. By breaking down the specific business needs that the new tool will address supported by data and mapping out the potential return on investment, you'll be better equipped to make a case for the new technology. Also, be sure to continuously assess ROI after implementation to determine potential next steps such as expanding the tool's use or even discontinuing it.

Data Integrity: Mitigate your security and data concerns by shoring up your data governance plan and revisiting your security policy. These policies should outline how data will be stored, accessed, and protected. By taking these steps, you will be able to ask the right security questions when speaking with potential vendors.

Unrealistic Adoption Timelines: Set realistic expectations for how long the implementation will take. Create a plan to onboard relevant team members on how to use the tool, determine exactly how it’ll be used after training, and who will be responsible for each task. 

Inadequate Training: Most legal operation tools are presented as easy to use, but to ensure proper adoption, you'll need to provide sufficient training for your team.

Lack of User Adoption: If your team is not using a tool enough, they might be unsure how to operate it or they might not find it useful. The first challenge can easily be tackled by developing a more in-depth training for your team. In the second case, you might want to reconsider if you should keep using the tool. 

Lack of Support from the Vendor: If the vendor doesn't offer support, helpful resources, or a customer service desk, this can a red flag and you might want to consider using a different tool. This could also signal that the vendor may sunset the product soon, which can make your team waste valuable time and resources.

Five Technologies Legal Ops Can Implement to Drive Efficiency & Save Costs

1. Document Collaboration Software

In a recent analysis of legal ops job postings, the most commonly required technology for candidates was MS Office Suite — mentioned in 22% of the postings — followed closely by Google Workspace. While MS Office and Google Workspace aren't legal software, they allow teams to collaborate on document creation asynchronously. Both tools offer the ability to create formatted templates, track changes, and make (and resolve) comments. Google Workspace also provides the ability to have multiple users working on documents at the same time.

No matter what tool you choose, document collaboration solutions ensure that everyone is literally on the same page and working more efficiently, especially in a remote setting.

2. eDiscovery Solutions

The right eDiscovery software can be a game-changer for team's productivity and legal spend as it allows you to handle the discovery process in-house without adding headcount. This usually translates into increased data security, reduced reliance on vendors and outside counsel, and a faster discovery process overall. 

With direct connections with the most common corporate data sources such as Slack, Google Vault, and MS 365, Logikcull is an excellent option for in-house legal teams as it makes collections seamless and allows you to launch an investigation or start conducting corporate eDiscovery in just a few clicks. From there, hundreds of filters and advanced search capabilities help you eliminate all the noise and hone in on your most relevant documents, which you can easily review and produce from the same platform.

On average, in-house teams using Logikcull save six figures per matter and thousands of hours in the unnecessary manual collection, analysis, and review of their data. Plus, by keeping their entire discovery process in one ultra-secure place, the risk of data spoliation or hacking becomes almost negligible.

3. Legal Spend Management Software

Legal teams need to easily handle billing so they can have a single truth regarding reporting. SimpleLegal is a good option as it combines eBilling, matter management, vendor management, and reporting into a single solution. The tool was created to be intuitive and streamlined, which helps drive efficiencies and cost savings. 

Thanks to its reporting functions, a solution like SimpleLegal can help your legal ops team perform strategic planning. It's also a helpful resource to review workflows and make business process improvements. 

4. Contract Lifecycle Management Software

Contract management tools can help legal ops teams automate drafting contracts and manage client relationships. This can save time and allow team members to focus on more sophisticated work. 

In this sense, Ironclad offers a CLM solution that allows in-house teams to create and store contracts in a single place. With a tool like this, you have real-time visibility to track changes, reviews, approvals, and communication at every level. 

Team members can create and execute contracts quickly and create a repeatable, streamlined workflow that makes the process predictable.

5. Project Management Tools

Project and task management tools can help teams keep track of workload, deadlines, and additional necessary information. Many legal departments turned to established task-management platforms to minimize crucial internal details getting lost in email or chat software.

A project management tool can help an in-house legal team track incoming requests and the status of projects, and even become the centralized knowledge management system. 

Some teams prefer the kanban style (or board view) for task management, and the reigning champ for kanban is Trello. Other project management tools like Asana and Teamwork also offer calendar views, board views, and task lists so teams can customize their project organization.  

Pair your project management system with a time tracking tool, like Chrometa, and (*chef's kiss*) you will have increased visibility on workloads and how efficient your team is working. Chrometa can track your activity by monitoring your “active window,” so you can automatically track time while redacting a PDF, switching to your email, or completing tasks in your project management system. 

Conclusion

The best tool for your legal department will vary depending on your specific needs, but in most cases, it’s best to stick to cloud-based solutions that you can access from anywhere, integrate with your tech stack, and guarantee data security.

Remember to try before you buy. Many cloud tools have free trials that you can leverage to assess if they meet your team's needs with little to no commitment.

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