Why in-house counsel can now have market leading legal apps too

Research tells us that in-house counsel are less likely to be using market leading legal applications than their peers in private firms. Here Lloyd Ellison, Tikit’s Director of Sales, EMEA, explains why cloud computing can change that and sets out the significant benefits that legal software can bring to even the smallest in-house team. 

Recent research[1] has confirmed what we all already knew: that in-house legal teams are far less likely to use legal software than their peers in external firms. The research showed that around 17% of in-house legal advisers use no legal software at all, two in five – that’s 40% – are using just one tool, and only around 10% have access to four or more.

This contrasts sharply with the use of legal software in private practice where a majority of firms utilise legal applications and where advanced tools such as artificial intelligence are already being adopted.[2]

Behind the curve

Why are in-house teams behind the curve in respect of their use of legal software? Well the research asked about the hurdles to adoption of new technologies. Respondents cited the time to implement as a barrier (15%), along with no perceived benefit (17%) and complacency (14%).

However the biggest answer was ‘cost’, cited by 32% of respondents (and relatedly ‘economic pressure on the business’ (6%)). And it’s understandable that cost was seen as an obstacle because traditionally in-house legal teams aren’t provisioned with much IT budget, and traditionally corporate IT has no special budget for the legal team.

This is in turn because until recently – and because of the commercial model deployed – legal technology called for such a relatively substantial investment that small in-house teams couldn’t possibly justify it. After all, it entailed a lengthy implementation phase, provisioning servers, training users, tackling technical compatibility, staying on top of updates, ensuring compliance. All this effort and outlay never made sense for a relatively small number of people.

Happily that’s no longer the case – which is good news for internal counsel.

The benefits of cloud computing

In a much more cost-conscious climate, the recent trend is for a higher proportion of legal work to be kept in-house; the scope of legal work to be extended; and new non-legal work from non-traditional areas such as risk, compliance and strategy to be piled on lawyers’ plates. The research tells us that in-house teams are getting bigger but they are nevertheless under greater pressure to be more productive.

This is where legal software can now step in and play a really important role. And the change has come about because of cloud computing. This is simply because cloud takes away most of the costs of accessing legal software.

There’s no more need for big IT projects and roll-outs, extensive staff training, servers which need to be provisioned and regular shut downs whenever the software gets updated. With cloud-based applications, users typically logon to any internet-enabled machine and pay a per-user subscription fee to use intuitive software.

There’s no big CAPEX investment, just a subscription cost coming out of OPEX which is limited to the number of users. And today’s cloud-based applications also bring with them the highest possible levels of security. For example NetDocuments[3] – the leading cloud document and email management platform – addresses several key aspects of security, compliance and encryption. These include SOC 2+ certification and other compliance achievements such as FIPS 140-2 Level 3 and ISO 27011. In fact, NetDocuments were the first legal DMS technology provider to achieve compliance of the ISO 27018 cloud data protection standards. In addition, when you also consider the NetDocuments enhanced end-to-end application-layer search index encryption and cryptography; and next-generation erasure coding data storage infrastructure for improved data security and high availability, it demonstrates that cloud technology now comes with extensive security and compliance. It is no wonder that cloud platforms such as NetDocuments is trusted and used by some of the world’s most security-conscious professional services organisations.

What legal tech can do

Now that cloud makes legal software accessible to all, applications with the power to make a big impact on everyday productivity are within everyone’s reach.

For instance, NetDocuments will file documents in the right place in one step, including predicative email filing. This is important because emails now account for three quarters of all stored documents. The software eliminates the need to copy emails into a shared folder or to the right folder in your inbox. It saves individuals time, but also makes the team much more efficient because what they need is always to hand.

NetDocuments also enables document sharing that’s secure and efficient. It can control when documents can be accessed and by who, as well as what individuals can do to any given document – read only, edit, etc. It enables full collaboration as well as full version control.

In addition, NetDocuments provides a genuinely powerful search capability. This is important because studies show that lawyers are spending up to 20% of their time – that’s one day a week – just looking for the right document or the right clause within a document. This is the kind of efficiency-boosting capacity that ensures cloud-based legal software can have a big impact.

Why it matters

The key point is that market leading legal software can now be accessed by even the smallest in-house team.

In short, cloud is making state-of-the-art legal technology available to all at the very moment in-house counsel needs it most.

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About the author

Lloyd Ellison joined Tikit in February 2013 and he has an excellent knowledge of software, IT services, network and communication technologies. His experience stretches across many client sectors. Lloyd has enjoyed working closely with many Professional Services firms, UK FTSE 100 and Global 500 clients over the last decade.

 

[1] In-house legal advisers: technology and efficiency report 2017, see: https://www.infotrack.com.au/wp-content/uploads/inhouse-legal-advisers-report-2017.pdf

[2] See for instance: https://www.ft.com/content/f809870c-26a1-11e7-8691-d5f7e0cd0a16

[3] Tikit is a full end-to-end partner of NetDocuments.