The world of education has changed in light of the coronavirus pandemic and the switch to online learning for many schools, colleges and universities across the country. The impact has been far less painful for those who had already implemented online learning tools, whereas many traditional schools have had to scramble to acclimate to the new virtual classroom. With the online education market expected to grow to $350 billion by 2025, many educational institutions are taking a close look at their technology footprint to determine where to place their money.
These educational technology improvements have also extended to other departments, such as internal legal teams and others who handle exam/test security, human resources, labor relations, diversity, affirmative action, equal employment opportunity, privacy and much more. By utilizing a legal matter management platform, teams can more efficiently track incidents, conduct risk assessments, make recommendations and track trends.
The Challenges Facing Colleges and Universities Today
The ability to improve efficiencies in common, repetitive tasks can lead to significant productivity improvements (and reduced stress) for many education employees across the country. There are a variety of legal matters that arise within the education setting that need to be properly handled, including:
- Employee relations
- Student affairs
- Regulatory compliance
- Campus security
- Intellectual property/technology transfer
- Crisis management
As colleges, universities and local school communities adjust to the changing school environment, there are inherent challenges that have always been present when managing legal matters internally. By minimizing some of these challenges, it allows legal professionals to spend less time managing the day-to-day tasks and more time solving the bigger cases that have a greater impact on the university as a whole:
- Inability to locate and share matter information quickly. With disparate data systems and manual processes—or none at all—, it’s tough to quickly locate legal matter information in order to stay on task or pull reports and disseminate important information to team members or management.
- Time-consuming reporting. Data is everything in today’s digital world. It’s no surprise that having current data on your legal matters is something that management will be interested in seeing often. This poses a challenge to many teams because reporting is either a manual process or takes hours to complete because of a lack of technology and no single source to store all the data.
- Lack of integration with other commonly used systems. There are multiple ways to communicate during a legal matter, including email, phone conversations and meetings. In addition, there are deadlines to manage and numerous contracts or other documents to track. Without the ability to log this information at the team’s convenience or save such information to each relevant matter or case, team members are faced with the challenge of keeping track of everything in multiple locations on their desktop. This impacts the ability to be efficient and organized with multiple matters, cases and issues happening simultaneously.
- No system for creating and managing contracts and their life cycles. Contracts are an absolute constant in legal matters. Without a place to keep them all, things can quickly become disorganized. It’s also easy to forget a deadline without a system for reminders. Often, this process is manual and time-consuming.
Legal Matter Management Software is for Universities, Too
With the current pressures for colleges, universities and schools to adapt to the virtual learning environment, there has never been a better time to explore the possibilities of how legal matter management software might make your job a whole lot easier. Whether it’s better managing contracts or employment agreements, legal matter management software for colleges and universities is comprehensive and powerful, yet flexible enough to allow you to make it your own.
Here are just a few of the many benefits that colleges and universities have experienced through the use of legal matter management software:
- Easy customization. Many professionals utilize legal matter management platforms as the single source for all their data. Through extensive customization features, you can essentially design the platform to suit your individual college or university, or department. Add or hide fields that won’t be used, or rename fields with your own terminology. With non-technical tools that are integrated directly into the product, the platform is so flexible, you can simply decide what data you need to capture and how much for every type of file: grievances, legal advice, research and more. In addition, you can create automated workflows and customizable templates to make document creation much simpler for your entire staff.
- Integration with other widely-used platforms. Legal Files integrates with many of the most-used applications in the education sector, such as Microsoft Office, Gmail, GroupWise or Adobe Acrobat. Legal professionals can seamlessly save all kinds of documents in a centralized location and email them directly from the legal matter management platform. This gives staff members the option to have everything they need in one place with the click of a button.
- A single platform for all matters. Legal technology provides one central location for all the information related to each file, matter or case, including documents, emails, notes, alerts and reminders. It ensures that everyone has access to the most current information and that reports can be instantly generated. Through these enhancements, colleges and universities are able to deliver better service to their clients and reduce the amount of redundant information throughout the organization.
Legal Files has even become the “backbone of the office” for the University of Notre Dame’s Office of General Counsel. According to General Counsel Timothy Flanagan, his team uses the software for office administration in addition to legal matters. With the ability integrate email, documents and other elements into a case, everything can be found in one place.
“We can get up to speed quicker and get a better handle on the status of a case,” said Flanagan. “We have a better focus on our resources.”
- Central repository for contracts. One of the most valuable features colleges and universities have taken advantage of is the ability for the legal matter management system to keep all contracts centrally located and accessible for all business units whenever they need them. Through this feature, many organizations are able to quickly and easily identify who their authorized signatories are for the first time ever.
For the University of Connecticut’s Procurement Services, this means giving their stakeholders an easier process for working with them. Now they can manage the contracting process electronically instead of through a manual spreadsheet, linking to documents and emails and also tracking expiration dates.
“Our stakeholders appreciate that kind of continuity from Procurement Services,” said Melissa Frank, Contract Specialist for UConn. “Also, Legal Files helps us identify if any particular step in the process is taking too long.”
- Track expenses seamlessly. If increasing efficiencies is the goal for many colleges and universities today, cutting out the need for multiple software systems is a quick way to help with this. By selecting a legal matter management system with a built-in accounting tool you can seamlessly monitor and approve costs, budgets and invoices as well as manage outside counsel activities—all from a single platform. Not only will you reduce your legal spend, but you will also give employees valuable time back in their day to be more productive on issues that have a greater impact on the organization.
- 24/7 access to all your data. With the ability to access your legal matter management platform from an iPad or iPhone, you gain an inside view into your cases remotely—anytime and anywhere. Gone are the days of disparate data systems and numerous and outdated Excel files. Now, you can instantly get a glance at your important matter related information on the road, at a different office location or at home (where many are still doing business because of the coronavirus).
Legal Files Makes the Grade
We at Legal Files want to help you save time on administrative tasks and focus more energy on the real issues: upholding the valuable reputation of your university and ensuring that the institution and its operations run smoothly. We understand the challenges you face, and are here to help you streamline your matter management through superior technology that alleviates your day-to-day inefficiencies. Whether it’s customizing the platform to your unique needs, managing contract deadlines or accessing critical data from wherever you are, Legal Files is the solution to take your productivity to the next level.
We’re here and ready to support you however you need. Our sales staff is ready and able to take your questions via phone or email.