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Tech Check

How can technology help lawyers collaborate more effectively and improve workflows?

In this first part of this blog, we looked at communications and how the right digital solutions can ensure your clients always have instant access to the partners and other fee earners they work with.  In this part we will look at how technology can help lawyers collaborate more effectively and improve workflows.

Now we are in this hybrid working environment and more and more lawyers are, in the main, working from different locations, the need for the best document collaboration solutions has never been greater.  In terms of working out which document collaboration we would boil the key objectives down to:

  1. The ability to discuss certain points “in the document”  

A legal document is a combination of perspectives.  To produce the best possible document, these perspectives must be heard and considered.  This will involve discussion between the lawyers working on the document.

Historically this would have been done around a table.  More recently it has been done in endless email threads, but these are hard to follow and make it too easy to miss critical points.

This is why you need to use technology to facilitate and navigate these discussions.  Many of the collaboration tools available allow you to hold a conversation alongside the relevant sections whether that conversation involves the whole group or is limited to specific individuals.

  1. The ability to edit documents simultaneously

If it’s not managed properly, having multiple lawyers editing the same document at the same time can cause confusion.

People don’t know which are the latest edits or which is the most up to date version of the document/s in question.  Unravelling this confusion takes time and effort.  This obviously impacts on efficiency, profitability and time recovery and worse, will irritate your clients.

Instead, law firms need to adopt a solution that allows all the lawyers working on a document to edit a single document in real time with all edits being made visible and attributed to the person who made them.

  1. The ability to compare multiple documents

Looking for and comparing the subtlest of changes in multiple documents manually wastes huge amounts of billable hours.  However, smart document collaboration tools can compare multiple documents and find all the changes in as many documents as required with a single click.

This not only saves considerable fee earner time but also improves the accuracy of the comparison because technology won’t make the same mistakes as tired human eyes inevitably will.

  1. The ability to track changes

Lawyers are no strangers to track changes.  In fact, although we don’t have figures to hand, lawyers are probably the greatest users of track changes!

There are now extensions to the standard Word functionality of track changes that make users instantly aware of the latest changes to the content of a document  content changes and allows users to go back through historic changes if needs be.

All this functionality improves the speed and accuracy of the editing process which in turn improves workflow efficiencies.

  1. The ability to give the only right people permission to access your documents

Law firms can no longer afford to rely on Word’s limited functionality to prevent people from accessing and editing documents.

The right document collaboration solution will allow you to assign access rights to fee earners that allow them the relevant permissions (which can range from read-only to approval) based on their role and experience.  You can also assign or withhold the permissions you afford your clients or their other external advisers.

This not only makes sure your firm is protected from potential compliance issues but also ensures your workflow continues to run smoothly as rogue access and edits will be prevented.

  1. The ability to secure your data

Keeping various files in different folders on different fee earners’ hardware and devices is not the way to ensure the levels of data security your clients deserve.

If you are going to invest in the latest document collaboration tools, you also need to secure your documents on a cloud platform that the vendor can certify will keep your documents safe and secure while you retain total control of who can access your documents.

It’s also important to remember that while technology can massively improve workflow and time  efficiencies, you can’t forget you also need to make sure using the finished document is as easy as possible for your clients.

As your clients will also be working from multiple and unpredictable locations, you need to ensure  they can sign what they need to regardless of where they are.  Electronic signing solutions are the easiest way to do that at both ends of the legal process, the final signature to conclude a matter and at the engagement letter stage so you can onboard them get into their work faster.

How can we help you find the right digital solutions to improve the way your lawyers collaborate on documents?

We are specialists in providing exactly the right document collaboration solutions for law firms and other professional advisers.

We will make sure your current document management software is fit for purpose (or recommend how it could be improved in order to improve your workflow, time recovery and profitability).  At your request we can also assess your project management software, your calendar tools and your transcription software so that all the elements of your workflow technology are in sync and delivering the value they should be.

The first step in any conversation is our Digital Health Check.

This is a holistic analysis that measures where you are on your digital journey in relation to best practice and the latest solutions in your sector and provides recommendations and a possible plan as to how you could make the way your lawyers work together on documents more efficient.

It is also completely free.

If you would like to book your firm in for a Digital Health Check, please contact us today.