Selecting the right technology stack is critical for in-house legal teams looking to scale operations, maintain compliance, and deliver timely legal services to their business partners. The ideal stack varies depending on the size and needs of the department.
Simple Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) software: CLM software enables legal teams to oversee the entire life cycle of a contract. From inception to expiration or renewal, these systems automate generation, reduce manual errors, and ensure contracts adhere to business standards, improving efficiency and compliance. Smaller departments might prioritize contract management over CLM. Some contract management software solutions for small in-house legal teams include ContractWorks, ContractSafe, and Pandadoc.
E-Billing Solution: E-billing software is designed to manage and monitor outside counsel legal expenses. These platforms simplify the billing process, foster transparency through tracking, and help minimize billing errors. Their automated mechanisms make them essential for teams handling significant billing volumes, aiding in cost control and predictive budgeting. Typically, when a company’s legal spend exceeds $500,000, it should begin to consider e-billing solutions and target implementing them by the time expenditure reaches $1,000,000.
Document Management System: Document management systems offer a consolidated space for storing, accessing, and managing crucial legal documents. They ensure that documents are organized and easily retrievable and integrate security protocols, version control, and audit trails. As a result, legal teams can work more efficiently, minimize risks, and safeguard sensitive information. While in-house legal teams at tech companies often lean towards Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox, legal departments at traditional industries might choose iManage or NetDocuments.
Document Creation Tool: Google Docs and Microsoft Word empower legal professionals to create, edit, and collaborate on documents in real time. They bolster productivity by providing tools tailored for document drafting, editing, and review. Moreover, their cloud-based nature facilitates collaborative efforts, ensuring consistency and accuracy.
Communication Tools: Tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams foster real-time, seamless messaging among legal department team members. In addition to text messaging, these platforms integrate file sharing and voice and video conferencing. This can translate to faster decision-making, unified teams, and a more agile legal operation.
Legal Intake, Triage, and Workflow Software: Streamline’s all-in-one no-code tool brings together legal intake and automatic triage, questions and comments, approval tracking, and even basic project management. It’s perfect for handling three to five standard contract types, such as Master Services Agreements (MSA), Order forms, Statements of Work (SOWs), and Nondisclosure Agreements (NDAs). By bringing intake for legal requests (including requests made by email, Slack, or Salesforce) in one place for automatic workflow routing, Streamline AI saves legal teams valuable time and ensures that the most important issues are addressed promptly with the right point of contact, with minimal back-and-forth. Get a demo of Streamline’s intake software here.
E-Signature Software: By enabling digital signatures, e-signature software expedites contract execution, ensures the legality of signed documents, and provides an audit trail. Benefits of e-signature software include reduced turnaround times, enhanced security, and improved client and partner experiences. Platforms like DocuSign, Dropbox Sign (formerly HelloSign), and Adobe Acrobat Sign expedite the signing process, ensuring legal compliance and document security.
IP Management Software: For businesses that deal heavily with intellectual property, tools such as Anaqua or Clarivate IPfolio become crucial. They provide a holistic platform for tracking patents, trademarks, copyrights, and more. By centralizing intellectual property (IP) data, these tools aid in strategic decision-making, enhance IP protection, and optimize monetization efforts.
This usually includes all the tools from the small in-house legal team tech stack, with the following changes or additions:
Robust CLM System: Mid-size legal teams require a more robust CLM system capable of managing a broader array of contract types and amendments. These systems delve deeper into contract analytics, offer advanced customization, and can handle complex procurement processes. Their ability to integrate with other enterprise systems ensures that contract management is cohesive and aligned with business objectives. Examples include Ironclad and Spotdraft.
E-Discovery & Legal Hold Tools: High litigation volume necessitates robust e-discovery tools. These platforms aid legal teams in identifying, collecting, and analyzing electronic information pertinent to lawsuits. These tools can help with e-discovery within Slack/Teams, transitioning legal holds from spreadsheets to more intuitive platforms, and comprehensive data mapping plans. Automating many aspects of the e-discovery process ensures compliance, enhances accuracy and efficiency, and reduces the risks of spoliation or data breaches. Common tools include Everlaw or Logikcull, but only when specific thresholds are met.
Knowledge Management Tools: Platforms like Confluence stand out as knowledge management hubs, allowing legal teams to create, manage, and share in-house knowledge bases or wikis. These platforms become repositories of institutional knowledge, ensuring that valuable insights, best practices, and case studies are accessible to all team members. Knowledge management tools can also be leveraged as a wiki for business partners to self-serve answers to basic legal questions.
Insights/Reporting Software: While basic tasks might utilize Excel, legal teams with advanced reporting needs and legal operations teams often turn to tools such as Tableau or other Business Intelligence tools. They provide deep analytical insights, visual dashboards, and trend analyses, empowering legal teams to make data-driven decisions.
Entity Management Software: For corporations with multiple legal entities, entity management software, such as CSC and Diligent, becomes indispensable. These platforms offer a consolidated view of all corporate entities, ensuring compliance, facilitating reporting, and aiding in strategic corporate structuring.
The ideal tech stack for in-house legal departments greatly depends on the team size and specific needs. However, by incorporating the recommended tools for their size, legal teams can enhance efficiency, maintain compliance, and provide outstanding legal services.