Legisway_software for legal information management
Legal07 February, 2017

5 keys to choosing software to manage your legal information

As an in-house lawyer you need to be in control of your company’s legal information and provide insights to your CEO or CFO to inform important business decisions.

The legal tech industry is booming with more solutions than ever to help lawyers and corporate legal departments manage their legal matters. However, many of these solutions focus on automating processes or tasks instead of managing information. Task-based solutions often require complex integrations with other vertical systems, like CRM or accounting software, making them a complex and costly purchase, especially for small legal departments.

What many GCs need is a simple solution that manages the information, not the legal tasks. Small legal departments are looking for a smarter way to work and collaborate with colleagues in other business units (instead of being seen as the legal bottleneck). They want to move away from spreadsheets and generic cloud-based software to a solution that empowers them to become more proactive and strategic in their role.

If this sounds familiar, it’s time you start looking for software to help you store, share, analyse and report on your legal data. Here are 5 key things to consider when deciding on a software to manage your legal information:

1. Ease of uploading and maintaining information

Having your information in a central location can help ensure accuracy and reduce the risk of versioning problems – but uploading and inputting data has to be easy, otherwise you will fall back on old habits.

When it comes to inputing details like company, customer or entity details, look for software that stores entries in a central database so they can be referenced on various matters like contracts, claims, IP registrations, etc. This will help you ensure data accuracy across matters and business units.

Uploading documents and emails that relate to each specific matter also needs to be easy. Otherwise files will be scattered across various harddrives and it will be a battle to understand which version is correct. Legal management software should allow you to attach any and all relevant documents to specific legal matters so you have a complete overview of the issue at hand.

On that note, some solutions also offer you the ability to store and share templates for standard documents like policies, agreements and contracts. This can also help legal departments delegate drafting to colleagues in other business units, while keeping control of the process.

2. Ability to generate insightful reports

When considering a legal information management system, you will also want to evaluate the reporting fuctions. Software should address the shortcomings of using spreadsheets by generating reports on cross-referenced data. For example, when all your contracts, claims and company information is consistently captured in one place and cross-referenced, you can generate reliable reports.

You will also want to make sure that the software you choose can support you in generating reports not only of current information, but historical data as well. For example, you may be required to report on past and present directors, past and present shareholders and their shareholdings, or the evolution of IP registeries. Also, exporting raw data is fine, but look for solutions that also help you present data in user-friendly visual formats, like factsheets, maps or organisation charts.

Finally, it’s important to evaluate the ability to create custom reports to your specific needs. Being able to generate specific reports at the touch of a button not only saves you time, but can help Legal assume a more strategic, proactive role in the business.

3. Facilitates collaboration and document sharing

Legal isn’t the only department that needs to access and manage legal documents, so the software you choose should make document collaboration and sharing easy.  When choosing a solution, you want to make sure that you empower colleagues, while retainaing oversight and control with permision settings.

Additionally, legal departments often commit significant legal resources to printing and sending documents for signature. Software can significantly help you cut costs if they are supported by eSignature technology and provide secure sharing to external parties, like outside counsel, auditors or customers.

Furthermore, you want to make sure that the software you choose can support you in gathering and sharing documents that might be required during audits or due diligence proceedings. For example, auditors can demand a long list of documents: from anti-money laundering policies, evidence of compliance with anti-discrimination rules or data protection laws. If you can quickly share these documents securely from your solution, you’ll not only save time but costs related to printing and sending them via courier.

4. Helps you reduce risks with alerts

When your information is hidden in filing cabinets or scattered across different spreadsheets or hard drives, it’s challenging to identify where risk lies. The promise of legal information management software is that all your information is in one central place, ready to view at any time. However, unless the solution offers alerts or notifications, the information is still out of sight out of mind.

When considering software, make sure that you can set up alerts on specific information, like contract deadlines or patent registry expiration dates, and can assign tasks to colleagues to proactively mitigate risks.  

5. Is it a secure, cloud-based solution?

Finally,  you want to make sure that the information you manage within the software is secure. The security of financial information, contracts, intellectual property, employee details, etc. is a number one priority.

In the digital age, storing documents on hard drives and sharing them with other parties via email has become the norm. However, these habits contain inherent security risks. To mitigate storage and sharing risks, including data loss or theft, look to a cloud-based solution that offers data encryption, user authentication, customisable permission settings, unlimited storage and backup. Cloud solutions also free you from the high costs of servers, data storage, IT administration and security.

Looking for software that has been developed in accordance to ISO/IEC 27001 can reassure you (and the head of your IT department) that the software provides a secure infrastructure to keep your sensitive company information remains safe.

Final thoughts

Before evaluating any software, it’s always a good idea to make a list of the features you can’t live without – like the ability to track contracts by entity. This can help guide you while you are considering various solutions so that you don’t get caught up looking at software that add unnessary complexity (and cost!) to your needs.

For many small legal departments, when it comes to managing legal information, what they really need is a small but powerful solution. With Legisway, you have a secure central location to store and share legal documents, full of smart functions to search, analyse, share and report on all of your critical legal data quickly, easily and with certainty.

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