Microsoft Teams Law Firm Collaboration: Whether it’s a small legal firm or huge global practice, there are several things that ring true, time and time again.
Lawyers communicating is the greatest asset and biggest line-item billing of all, so meetings and collaboration are of utmost importance as clients, partners, and staff must be able to meet “face to face” to go over cases, courtroom strategies and project management aspects. And they absolutely must be able to accurately track and calculate that information for invoicing.
Historically this hasn’t always been the easiest or most efficient process, so when combined with the rise of globalization, Covid-19 mandates, economic instability, technology advances and even environmental issues, the needs of the client have also become much more complicated and ambiguous. Beyond traditional work processes, and because we’re crossing various jurisdictions, unified collaboration has become the key trend in legal field technology adaption.
Microsoft knows legal professionals are not always in the same location and have tailored their offerings with great respect for data policies, securing said data and allowing for real-time, multiple location collaboration. Integral in the industry success, is the tracking and reporting of time spent and the users involved. That’s why it’s no surprise Microsoft Teams is quickly becoming the go-to-meeting application for law firms. At face value it’s popular for combining workplace chat, meetings, notes, attachments, while at the same time integrating with the Microsoft 365 Productivity Suite that includes all the 365 programs lawyers and administrators have used in their processes for years. And the billing. Always the billing.
To better understand this rising trend, let’s look at a few key areas in the legal industry that have been noted as greatly contributing to workforce productivity and continued revenue growth.
Microsoft Address Legal Industry Needs – Teams Law Firm Collaboration
According to Microsoft, their mission is “to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.” The goal of Microsoft 365 Solution for Legal is to address the concerns over blind subpoenas while helping Law Firms realize their full potential using the most secure cloud and to leverage Microsoft Teams in a way that is curated and configurable to meet those requirements. They have recognized the value of Document Management Systems (DMS), Secure File Sharing, Encrypted Accesses, and User Rights Management.
This is a good sign as to the attention and direction of Microsoft, specifically for the legal industry. Having an excellent team space is key to being able to make creative decisions and communicate with one another. Shared workspace software makes this much easier to achieve, especially if a particular team is based in a very large company, has many remote employees, or is made up of a significant amount of team members. This Unified Communications offering provides Technical Equality for all employees, including hybrid, remote or on site as these solutions work on any device, from any location and provide the same experience / tools to all parties, while tracking and reporting time usage for invoicing.
How Microsoft Teams Law Firm Collaboration is Helping Legal Industry
- Alleviating the Autonomous Nature of Legal Professionals
Historically, a lawyer’s reluctance to collaborate has evolved in the doctrines adopted by the industry itself, throughout its history. Typically, the final goal is achieving the highest possible revenue, so collaboration with other legal service providers was often viewed as a loss of money. Combine that with competition, dominance in a particular field of expertise, and/or the inward-facing approach to legal work, it’s not hard to see why they were never encouraged to collaborate. Most lawyers were not used to working in teams, so initially that has always been quite daunting.The modern socio-economic and environmental challenges noted above however, now often require the involvement of multiple people / departments for resolution of legal problems. Now, collaboration is the primary focus for success, and those legal organizations who realize it sooner than others have begun to see very impactful results.
- Alleviating a Lack of Trust and Coordination
Cross-practice collaboration can be a very challenging, if not overwhelming, due to a variety of reasons. Individual working styles, cultural differences, expectations, and competition are the lowest hanging fruit, not to mention a variety of different technology platforms, software, hardware, and format compatibility. This immediately creates questions revolving around competency and trust, which has made the collaboration process difficult to coordinate. To truly benefit, it’s necessary to strive towards a working environment that fosters collective work through adopting digital collaboration tools. This will allow law firms to create a collaboration structure that enhances communication and teamwork.
- Alleviating too many Channels of Communication
To gain the growing benefits seen through collaboration, law firms have witnessed the rise and fall of multiple channels of communication. Before notions of Unified Communication (one platform to facilitate these technologies for all employees), the thought of “Technical Equality” for all was merely a theory. However, by making lawyers juggle various platforms like email, document storage, apps, Skype, messengers, and chat programs has led to skepticism, security risks through sharing information through unsecured channels that can cause accidental information leaks.
The goal by Microsoft quickly became how could law firms deploy a digital collaboration platform that would unify all necessary communication channels to allow all players to have secure conversations, meetings, and collaborations without sacrificing data security.
And this is where Microsoft Teams truly excels.
How Microsoft Teams is Fostering Law Firm Collaboration for Lawyers
One of the biggest benefits that a Microsoft Teams integration can provide is a secure way that partners and staff can meet to discuss cases and projects. Up until the Covid era, this was a very costly and inconvenient duty. Attorneys, paralegals, and administrative employees all agree that Microsoft Teams provides a secure, robust, and even easy way to collaborate and simplify teamwork. One of the main advantages was the vast accessibility, regardless of location or even device used.
Another highly appreciated part of accessibility is the ability to share files, edit document, exchange calendars and more in a team-based text chat that generates log files for future reference. This legal hub is ideal to share ideas, content, and to-do lists, because chats and conversations area very easy to follow and even alert the user when new chats are initiated.
Teamwork in law firms or legal departments can be simplified by creating a unique team for each legal case in Microsoft Teams. From there, users can build multiple channels for better structure collaboration workspace and to make it easier and safer to store and search for data. These channels will vary depending on the field of law practiced and on each case. As an example, if you were handling a corporate real estate case, then the different channels might consist of any number of the following:
1) Letter(s) of Intent
2) Lease Agreement(s)
3) Environmental Impact Studies / Reports
4) Budgetary Guidelines and Structure
5) Market Research / Valuations
6) Case Work
12) Trial preps
13) Appeals, etc.
How Microsoft Stands Out with Teams Law Firm Collaboration Software
Beyond the amazing amount of communication and collaboration listed below, there is also an equal importance placed on policy management, permissions, and use tracking. From a user perspective, here is a quick list of what legal firms are now using to facilitate communication and collaboration:
- Teams and Channels
- Conversations within Channels and Teams
- Chat and Messaging
- 365 Live Collaboration
- Secure Document Storage
- Online Video Calling
- Screen Sharing
- Online Meetings
- Audio Conferencing
- Full Telephony
Teams can be controlled and configured directly from the Teams admin center and from the user standpoint, Teams is very intuitive. The learning curve is quite small compared to more complicated collaboration tools and it uses a very familiar UX/UI logic and platform to 365 apps. Teams is a powerful and extremely useful collaboration environment for legal professionals. It’s forecast that Teams will only get more popular, and it’s included in Office 365 for free!
In summary, any Office user can enjoy all the benefits of this collaboration solution as it brings simplicity to teamwork by collaborating, sharing, and communicating, all under one platform. This Unified Communications solution provides the same tools to all employees, be they hybrid, remote, on-location or cross-country. They work on any device, from any location, and come complete with use tracking, management, time/user meeting tracking and reporting for direct invoicing.
Want to Know More?
Download our informational Teams Telephony for Legal Professionals brochure below.