Selecting Legal Department Software for the Public Sector
Attorneys in the public sector need legal department software that meets their unique needs
Any attorney who has worked in the public sector knows that it’s very different work from what an attorney might encounter in private practice. The unique demands and challenges of the public sector can be more easily managed with the right legal department software.
With the right management system, attorneys no longer have to rely on outdated organizational methods to keep track of calendars, contacts, documents, emails, and research. All of this essential information can be found in one convenient location, saving time and money – two precious resources in the public sector.
Knowing what you need from a software system can save you hours of research
Before you type the phrase “legal department software” into a search engine, realize that there are dozens of systems on the market today. The sheer volume might seem overwhelming, but you will be able to eliminate several of them if you know what you need from your software. Many software packages were designed for a specific practice area, so there’s no need to consider systems that were designed for areas that your department doesn’t handle.
After eliminating the systems that are outside the scope of your department, you can start studying each system in more detail. In addition to considering the appearance and usability of each system, you’ll want to explore the available features in more detail to find the right software for your department.
There are several features that are especially important to consider when selecting a system
Your legal department will likely have specific needs, but there are several features that are essential for every department. Specifically, the system you select should offer scalability and reliability, calendar and email integration, and document management.
Reliability and Scalability – You need a system that won’t crash when you place more demands on it (reliable) and that’s capable of growing with your department (scalable). The best way to find out if a system offers both reliability and scalability is to ask some questions.
Ask each vendor about their workstation and server requirements. If the system requires a large workstation or a dedicated server, this could mean future problems with compatibility and support – something you’ll want to avoid.
You should also ask for references from clients with legal departments that are similar in size and scope. If a vendor tells you that they can’t give you references, you should tell them that you can’t give them your business.
Calendar and Email Integration – Whether you work in the private or the public sector, access to a calendar and email is essential. Before you commit to a software system, ask the vendor if it provides two-way integration for your existing system for calendaring and email. This is the best way to avoid finding out that your new system can’t integrate with Microsoft Outlook later on.
Document Management – Regardless of whether you already have a document management system (DMS), you’ll want to know more about each system’s document management features. Be sure to ask if the system includes a document management feature or if it just works with your existing DMS. Also, if you have a DMS and plan to integrate, find out more about the integration process. You don’t want to find out that integration is a cumbersome process after you’ve already invested in the system.
If your legal department needs a specific feature, don’t hesitate to ask vendors about options for customization. Often, a software package can be tailored to meet your needs, but you won’t know for sure unless you ask.
By knowing what you need and asking the right questions, you can find a legal department software system that will help you operate a more organized and efficient public sector legal department.