The old saying ‘time is money’ is probably more relevant in the context of law firms than almost any other industry. Time really is money for most lawyers and so finding opportunities to streamline and automate business processes, increase productivity and improve access to information has to be a priority for law firms. A legal intranet may well be the portal for doing so. In this article, we look at the top 7 most useful features for legal intranets.
1. Knowledge Management Portal
The intranet can be the central repository for all relevant case law, precedents, legislation and law review articles. So rather than having multiple sources of information, document management systems, and databases, all information is instead stored on one platform on the intranet. The knowledge management portal can be structured and organized to reflect the business of the law firm.
An advanced search functionality will also be required to ensure that staff members can quickly and easily access the information they require. Use filters to allow users to narrow down their search and provide ways to search even if the user is unsure of the document name or case or client number. This will help to ensure that the search results are relevant. Finding too much information is sometimes worse than finding none at all so make sure your search functionality is strong on relevancy.
In addition, the knowledge portal can be quickly and easily updated in the light of changing case law and new legislation. In this way, staff members can be confident that the information they are accessing is the most up to date and relevant and in the context of law firms, this is critical.
2. Online Forms
Law firms are traditionally big on completing forms! Whether it’s to file an expenses claim, record time spent working on a particular case or setting up a new client on the system, with an intranet all forms can be completed online, eliminating the duplication of effort involved in processing paper forms. A cloud-based intranet will even have easily customizable standard form templates so you could be up and running in a matter of hours. Furthermore, the intranet can automatically direct a claim for expenses, for example, through to the accounts department for payment.
3. Legal Intranet Staff Directory
A people directory particularly in large firms with lots of partners, associates and paralegals is another essential feature. It’s pretty much impossible to keep tabs on names and faces much less remembering which cases they’re currently working on. A people directory with photos, contact information and a brief summary of current projects will act as a great enabler within any legal firm.
4. Opportunities For Collaboration
Often particularly complex cases and issues require the input of a number of specialized team members from across the law firm. For example, a multi-million dollar construction project could involve contract attorneys, tax lawyers, as well as the employment law team, working together. Collaboration spaces within the intranet will allow staff members to get together whether it be to brainstorm ideas, share information or to work jointly on files and documents. The legal intranet will help to reduce the need to email updates and ideas across the organization or time spent in long face-to-face meetings. Team members will simply log into one central intranet location and can make their feedback or comments, share files, store conversations, and reference relevant data thereby promoting collaboration and efficiency.
5. Company & Legal Team News
One of the main benefits of legal intranets is that they improve communications across organizations. Company and team news functions will be an important means to that end. Indeed the legal intranet provides the opportunity for online newsletters, news pages, and blogs or news feeds. These can all be customized by team function, area of the law or by similar job. The news feeds should offer a two-way communication channel, giving lawyers and attorneys the opportunity to comment on and discuss news items as well as share updates and highlight key information across the business.
Allied to this is the corporate calendar feature. The corporate calendar is a way of highlighting key events and dates including trial dates, billing cut-off dates or even the staff Christmas party. The corporate calendar will help to eliminate the need for all-staff emails. It’s a great time saver as staff members will no longer need to search through their overloaded in-boxes for that all-important deadline. Instead, they can find it quickly and easily on the corporate calendar.
6. Keep The Intranet Design Simple & Intuitive
Attorneys have traditionally been very conservative when it comes to embracing new technologies. In fact, many lawyers would describe themselves as being technophobes that rely on the support of administrative staff to function properly. To make sure that your legal intranet is widely adopted and fully utilized, it’s worthwhile keeping the design as simple and intuitive as possible so that even those staff members that are less confident and comfortable around technology will find it easy to use.
A comprehensive staff training program with how-to videos, wikis or webinars can support the process of implementation. As well as demonstrating how to use the intranet, it can also serve to showcase what the intranet is capable of such that attorneys will appreciate just what a difference it will make to their daily work.
7. Legal Intranets and Security
Law firms obviously deal with highly sensitive and confidential information. Knowing that such classified data is entirely safe, secure from hackers or other unauthorized users will be of paramount importance to any law firm. A legal intranet will, therefore, need to utilize the very latest SSL security encryption software and protection from malware and hackers and will need to be constantly reviewed and updated.
As we have seen, legal intranets have the potential to increase productivity, improve the ease of access to information as well as streamlining businesses processes. And all this is available in one platform with simple, easy to use functionality.
If you are considering implementing a legal intranet, get in touch with the knowledgeable team at MyHub for a no-obligation free trial. And see what a difference a legal intranet could make to your firm.