To say the world has changed for legal professionals in the last 18 months would be an understatement. Those who once yearned for the corner office with the great view have found themselves floating from the dining room table to the home office as the COVID-19 pandemic changed the traditional way of work for the foreseeable future. By 2025, it is estimated that 70% of the workforce will be working remotely at least five days a month. While many legal organizations had transitioned to some remote working prior to the pandemic, there’s no doubt that the past year has vastly escalated the adoption of technology tools that were largely planned to be implemented by 2030.
Today (more than a year after the start of the pandemic), companies are beginning to assess their long-term plans for remote work strategies. Regardless of what they decide, legal matter management software provides a key differentiator for teams to stay connected and productive no matter where they are. The ability for legal professionals to remotely collaborate in a single technology platform has enabled an easier transition from the water cooler to the home office for many organizations across the country. Yet, it hasn’t come without its own unique challenges.
Overcoming Legal Professionals’ Concerns Related to Remote Work
Initially, the struggle for legal organizations was how to make remote work effective. And now, it is how and when to proceed into the “new normal.” Many sectors have already determined how their business will change going forward, but the legal industry has been indecisive. Many are still debating how to best operate going forward. Below are just a few of the challenges that the legal sector is facing when determining whether to make remote work a permanent solution.
- Change can be hard.
The legal industry is unique in that it is full of legacy processes, and many professionals don’t want to change. Thus, it’s no surprise that many legal professionals are cautious about remote work. By nature, legal professionals are a risk averse group and are constantly assessing the remote work impact to quality, security and cost. Additionally, many seasoned professionals are more used to walking down the hall to get a paper signed or discuss a matter in-person rather than logging onto a technology platform to discuss their matter over email or instant message.
- Technology can be fallible, and security is of the utmost importance.
While the traditional office setting isn’t flawless, it is generally seen as a more stable tech environment since it may be armed with an entire team of IT professionals who are constantly monitoring it. So, when something goes awry, the response can almost be instantaneous. The transition to remote work means less predictability considering each home office’s unique devices, internet service provider, and varying levels of service. Plus, security is of the utmost importance in this profession, and legal professionals want to know that their communications and work products are truly protected 24/7.
- Productivity could suffer due to working remotely.
The legal profession has never been a typical 9 to 5 job. But, with the shift to remote work, many professionals have had to adjust to being productive from home with the variety of distractions they may encounter at any given time. Whether during the summer months with kids out of school or the unexpected knock from the delivery man, professionals have had to figure out how to still get the same amount of work done regardless.
- Lack of consistency among peers between those who prefer in-person versus remote work.
While remote working was originally thought to be a temporary solution, many have embraced it and now have come to prefer this way of working. Yet, there is still no consensus among entire organizations on making the shift permanent. Some have the mindset that in-person work creates better community among co-workers and helps maintain company culture. Yet, most can agree that now that the option to work remotely has been offered, it will be hard to take it away completely. There are many professionals who are balancing work with individual challenges, disabilities or significant external obligations (such as caring for themselves, young children, aging parents or others), making the option to work remotely a saving grace.
Technology Solutions to Ease Remote Work Concerns
Matter management software has been the most widely used resource for easing the transition from in-person to remote work for legal professionals. With a single platform to store your most valuable data and cases, legal teams have been able to maintain the same (if not greater) level of productivity than pre-pandemic times. Matter management technology can help relieve remote work concerns by:
- Securing document review anytime, anywhere. Matter management software allows you to collaborate on and review matters no matter where you are. If your legal department is working with outside counsel, and you want them to see only certain files and documents, you can set up a portal to the data they need, while protecting the data they don’t. This functionality allows for all levels of access and protection based on your unique needs. Additionally, exceptional matter management software provides a powerful security feature for sensitive cases called “Private Files.” All case/matter types should have the ability to utilize Private Files functionality, providing an additional layer of security. A tool for administrators (and other users with proper security), Private Files functionality enables you to create a case/matter, which is restricted to only those assigned to the file or given a password to access it—providing the utmost security for your most private matters.
- Increasing productivity through technology innovations and enhancements. With a central place for your team to conduct business, communication naturally improves. It’s easier to find critical case data, contact information, emails, documents including contracts and more. You can bring colleagues into a case by sharing access and setting up a workflow for them to make changes to the file as needed. With automation, you can work smarter by keeping colleagues informed of updates and changes that are made to matters and files as they happen. Group views of calendars also allow you to keep current on upcoming case dates and relevant assignments so nothing gets overlooked.
- Enhancing communication and collaboration through online tools. Managing matters electronically gives you the ability to communicate and collaborate with your colleagues even though you’re not physically present. Make notes, share files, set calendar events and more to alert your coworkers about a particular file in real time so your entire team is always up to date. Automate assignments and stay informed of any updates that are made to each matter.
Group views of calendars also allow you to keep current on the upcoming assignments for your team related to each matter so nothing gets overlooked. With email integrations, you can link emails directly to the matter you are working on from within the platform within seconds ensuring that the valuable case information you need is never overlooked or forgotten. Built-in routing and email features can also enable coworkers to collaborate on a matter within seconds.
Legal Files Keeps Remote Teams Connected
Need a system that keeps your team members current and productive no matter where they are? Legal Files helps you stay connected in a changing world. We want to help your legal operations run as smoothly as possible no matter where you are—at home or in the office. We care about the issues you face and are here to help you uncover the advantages of being remote in order to be more efficient, enhance security and visibility, and leverage remote communication and collaboration tools through superior technology.
With more than 30 years of experience supporting some of the world’s most renowned organizations, you can trust us to meet all your legal technology needs. We’re here and ready to support you however you need. Request a demo today to see Legal Files in action and learn how we help organizations like yours manage what matters to you most.