Communication—this is so important for the proper running of any business; however, it is even more essential for law firms where the stakes are arguably much higher. Over the years, communication between attorneys and their clients was a time-consuming process that depended primarily on scheduled face-to-face meetings and paper documents being mailed or hand-delivered for review and revision.
As in-office communication has evolved, fax machines, and then e-mailed messages allowed for a quicker turn-around for sharing documents and information. Unfortunately, this did not make collaboration with others, whether in-office or across the country, any easier. E-mail is notoriously inefficient for collaboration, since it is not totally secure, and as an e-mail chain of correspondence grows longer, it can become difficult to keep track of specific information. Important or sensitive info can become misplaced, or even mistakenly deleted.
Although initially costly and complicated, the platforms in the early 2000s made digital collaboration and sharing possible, especially for larger firms willing to invest in them. As technology continues to improve, it becomes increasingly easier to update and advance to the next level of IT solutions for firms of every size.
Modern methods of collaboration provide more security, better organization, and quicker ways to share ideas, as well as documents. Faster speeds, of course, directly correlate to how much one is able to get done in every given billable hour. As the old adage goes, “Time is money.”
What Do Collaboration Platforms Include?
An attorney’s day is often hectic consisting of communicating with new and existing clients, formulating strategies with associates, and managing cases. Add to that such tasks as updating calendars, logging hours, and making case notes. Often, each of these activities occurs using different management tools, requiring busy individuals to log in and out, consuming valuable time better spent on more important business.
With a collaboration platform, law firms are able to keep all billing and calendar systems, document sharing, emails, messaging, and video communications in one location. It should be available to each attorney and staff member affiliated with the firm who needs to view it. Granting access to all employees can be a big security risk.
Available on your desktop, laptop, or mobile device, collaboration platforms keep all communication in one convenient location. They allow users to chat one-on-one or with a team. In addition, they can organize messages and documents, share quick and concise memos, and start or join a video conference. Collaboration software also enables associates to share computer screens and documents, which facilitates ongoing team conversations. This provides a method for each associate to begin and end his or her day on one platform for ultimate efficiency.
How Does New Technology Improve a Law Firm’s Ability to Collaborate?
Modern law firms realize that effective communication and better organization methods improve their ability to serve their clients. This will also increase their productivity and profits. Collaboration involves individuals with different specialties and strengths working together to produce superior outcomes.
Whether participating colleagues are interacting in person or across a distance, everyone needs to be able to share documents, ideas, and information. Video conference capabilities allow collaborators to speak “face-to-face” even though they are communicating remotely.
As a team of attorneys build on the ideas of each other, brainstorming, combining knowledge and perspectives, they are able to create something that is greater than what each could provide individually. At the end of the day, each has a record of all relevant documents, emails, and messages available via a mobile application on their choice of electronic device.
How to Choose the Right Collaboration Platform
Collaboration software continues to influence how law firms view communication in the office but choosing the right one can be daunting. Savvy buyers look for a straightforward, user-friendly option that provides consumer support and training. They should select a platform that includes the ability to integrate some of their key programs with the existing systems, so work continues uninterrupted. Choosing software that is capable of automatic updates is advised. In fact, access to analytics, depositions, legal research, and AI software are not out of the reach for future options.
Consider choices that allow the administration to set the controls for the system and monitor the initial adoption and use of the platform, as well as ensure associates are complying with all data security standards. Piloting the collaboration platform with a small team eases the organization into the new techniques and allows the administrators to work out any issues before releasing it to the entire firm. This can prevent glitches and time-consuming problems.
Technology continues to advance and online collaboration is no longer considered a new idea. As innovative technology platforms develop, they will increasingly be demanded in the office. The ability to collaborate online benefits both clients and their legal counselors. Clients no longer have to contact the office to request a hard copy of their file. By using an online portal, all parties involved can review, revise, and comment on documents instantly and conveniently on their personal computer.
As the dynamics of the legal workplace change, organizations must adapt and implement the most efficient and modern options available. Collaboration platforms are a logical and integral part of the legal office’s larger IT approach. Clients expect their lawyers to remain relevant, and law firms that fail to update, are not supplying their clients with the best experience or the most successful results.