Deep dive

The importance of legal project management for in-house legal teams

June 3, 2024
Streamline AI

Table of Contents

What is legal project management?

Legal project management is a systematic approach that helps in-house legal teams and legal operations efficiently manage their workload, streamline processes, and deliver legal services more effectively. It involves planning, executing, and monitoring legal projects to ensure they meet time, budget, and quality goals. Legal operations professionals, who focus on optimizing the delivery of legal services, are integral to this process. By implementing legal project management, legal operations can maintain order, improve productivity, and ensure compliance with internal and external requirements. This approach not only enhances the efficiency of in-house legal teams but also supports the broader objectives of legal operations, ultimately contributing to the organization's overall success.

The benefits of legal project management software for in-house legal teams

Legal project management software can be a powerful tool for in-house legal teams looking to work more efficiently and scale legal services. Some benefits include:

Centralized intake and unified view of legal work

One of the primary benefits of legal project management software is a centralized intake system. Often, legal teams deal with incoming legal requests via email, Slack, or even in-person conversations. When there’s a high volume of legal requests, it can become unmanageable, resulting in duplicative work or incorrect prioritization of work, and Y. Legal project management software, like Streamline AI can consolidate all legal requests into a single hub, providing a comprehensive view of all ongoing, pending, and completed legal work. This makes it possible for legal operations teams to easily track the status of each request, prioritize them based on urgency, and ensure timely completion. The centralized view significantly reduced the time spent searching for documents and tracking down information, improving overall efficiency.

Streamline AI's unified dashboard of all legal work
Streamline AI's unified dashboard of all legal work

Automated review and approval workflows

Administrative tasks such as review and approval can consume significant time. legal project management software automates these workflows, reducing the need for manual intervention. Automated workflows can ensure that legal requests are assigned to the right in-house counsel based on predefined parameters like legal request type and priority, and then routed to other appropriate approvers based on monetary thresholds, and deadlines.

Streamline AI's no-code tools
Set up no-code legal approval workflows with Streamline AI's no-code tools

Comprehensive communication and file management with audit trails

Keeping track of files, communications, comments, and notes can be complicated and time-consuming when they’re scattered across emails, Slack messages, local computer storage, or cloud folders. This disorganization makes it difficult to find and track relevant information during and after a legal project, hindering the ability to fully understand and complete legal requests. Legal project management software like Streamline AI addresses this issue by centralizing all communications, files, and approvals related to each legal request in one place. This centralization simplifies access and management of information. Some legal project management tools also offer automatic audit trails, which is crucial for compliance and accountability.

Streamline AI's central hub for legal request details, files, and attachments
Streamline AI's central hub for legal request details, files, and attachments

How to choose the right legal project management software for your in-house legal team.

Technology can be a game-changer for project management, but finding the right system for how your in-house legal team works can be daunting. Some key features to look for include:

  1. Integrated communication functionality. Keeping all project communications in one place preserves context and fosters better collaboration, regardless of location. This speeds up decision-making and provides a clear audit trail for accountability.
  2. Secure document and file management. Cloud-based secure file management enables easy access to necessary documents for each legal request. This minimizes the back-and-forth of email attachments and ensures team members are working from the right version of files with the complete context.
  3. Status and approval tracking. Real-time status tracking ensures everyone is on the same page by clearly outlining the current state of legal requests, completed approvals, and to-dos. This fosters better collaboration, reduces miscommunication, and enables proactive management by providing a transparent view of progress.
  4. Legal process automation tools. Legal process automation tools help streamline routine tasks such as initiating review and approval processes, eliminating the need for manual oversight or drafting emails. This results in quicker turnarounds and reduces human error. Tools like Streamline AI enable users to create no-code workflows triggered by preset conditions such as monetary thresholds or legal request types, saving time on administrative tasks and reducing the legal team's workload.
  5. Analytics and reporting. Advanced analytics and reporting tools generate insights into legal requests volume by request type, requesting team, and more, enabling better resource allocation and process optimization. This ultimately improves overall efficiency and decision-making.
  6. eSignature integration. Integrations with eSignature tools such as DocuSign enable secure and fast electronic signing of documents without the need to be physically present. This speeds up the document signing process and improves the experience for business stakeholders. 

Best practices for legal project management

Implementing effective legal project management best practices is essential for maximizing efficiency and ensuring successful project outcomes. Here are some best practices:

Implement a legal priority framework

A legal priority framework helps in-house legal teams prioritize work based on urgency, the size of the request, and business priorities based on a clear criteria. By categorizing requests at the point of intake into different priority levels, legal teams can allocate resources more effectively and ensure that critical tasks are completed on time. By tracking the number of legal requests in each priority level, it's easier to identify resource needs and highlight workflow issues. 

Establishing the framework should be a cross-collaborative effort with key stakeholders to ensure that the legal team’s priorities match organizational needs. The teams should define tiers with specific, measurable criteria for prioritizing legal tasks, such as risk level, impact on business operations, legal deadlines, and strategic importance. This approach ensures consistent and objective decision-making while providing the data needed to identify opportunities for improvement.

A legal priority framework
Access the template of the legal priority framework created by Ilan Hornstein

For example, imagine an in-house legal team at a large technology company that handles legal requests from various departments, including Sales, Marketing, and Product Development. The company has set a quarterly threshold of 20 urgent legal requests to ensure the Legal team can manage their workload effectively. 

However, in a recent quarter, the legal team received 35 urgent requests, far exceeding the threshold. This surge in urgent requests creates a significant strain on the team's resources, leading to delays and decreased efficiency. Legal gets blamed for taking too long on legal requests, which in turn can impact marketing launches or revenue generation. 

By categorizing and tracking the priority of each request during the intake step, the legal team is able to provide the data to drilldown that the true cause is misaligned prioritization and inadequate resource allocation. Many requests labeled as "urgent" might not actually meet the criteria for urgency. If they do, this may highlight a need for more legal resources to handle high-priority requests.

With this information, the legal team can take the following actions:

  • Reevaluate urgency criteria: Work with department heads to redefine what constitutes an urgent request, ensuring between Legal and their business partners.
  • Adjust resource allocation: Make a case for hiring additional headcount or reallocating existing resources to better handle urgent requests, especially during peak periods.

As a result, the legal team can manage their workload more effectively, maintain efficiency, and ensure that truly urgent matters receive the attention they need. This proactive approach helps the company avoid future bottlenecks and improves overall collaboration between the legal team and other departments.

Leverage technology to reduce manual work

Manual assignment and tracking of legal projects can be incredibly time-consuming and prone to errors, and it can be beneficial for legal teams to leverage technology to automate these processes. Streamline AI's legal matter management software makes it possible to automate the assignment of legal requests and reviews and approvals based on preset parameters, such as priority and monetary thresholds. This ensures that the right work is assigned to the right team members without delay, and can help automatically flag high-priority or high-risk legal requests.

One important caveat is that while generic ticketing and work management software tools like Clickup, Asana, Wrike, Jira, and ServiceNow are excellent for other business teams, they often fall short in meeting the specific needs of in-house legal teams. These tools might lack nuanced features such as conditional form fields, dynamic routing based on preset primary and fallback position strike zone thresholds and parameters, and legal-specific metrics. reporting. Additionally, access management can be clunky (and managed by IT), which can end up hiding data from legal team members who need to see it or revealing too much to requestors, breaking privilege and hurting confidentiality.  Legal project management software like Streamline AI is designed with the unique requirements of in-house teams in mind, offering features tailored to actual legal workflows and processes while providing features such as confidential comments that help strengthen privilege and real-time legal metrics reporting.

Showcase Legal’s impact through data

In today’s data-driven business environment, showcasing the legal team’s impact is crucial. Bringing quantitative data to the table highlights the hard work and contributions of the legal team, underscoring their value as critical partners to achieving organizational goals. Legal-specific project management tools can automatically track the entire lifecycle of legal requests, from intake to completion, providing detailed insights into key legal metrics such as time spent at each legal and business review and approval step, request volume, and legal response and review times.

These insights help identify bottlenecks, streamline processes, and improve overall efficiency. For example, if data shows that a significant amount of time is spent on a particular step, this could indicate a bottleneck, prompting a review and potential improvements. Understanding the volume and types of requests also helps the legal team allocate resources more effectively and plan for peak times.

By presenting this data to stakeholders, the legal team can demonstrate their tangible value, gain support for additional resources or technology, and reinforce their strategic role in achieving the company’s business objectives. It's not just about doing the work—it’s about measuring, learning, and using insights to continuously improve and showcase the legal team’s indispensable impact.

Streamline AI's reporting and analytics for legal requests
Streamline AI's reporting and analytics for legal requests


Legal project management is a vital component for in-house legal teams to function efficiently and effectively. By leveraging legal project management software like Streamline AI, legal teams can centralize their work intake, automate workflows, and manage files and communications seamlessly. Adopting best practices in legal project management, such as utilizing technology, automatic task assignment, and legal-specific tools, ensures that in-house can optimize their operations, improve collaboration, and consistently meet organizational objectives.

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