There's a shift to move to the cloud, but what does this mean for in-house lawyers? Learn the key points when evaluating cloud-based legaltech...
Evaluating LegalTech? How To Choose The Right Legal Department Software
Here are our top tips to consider when choosing an in house legal department software solution for your team.
Scouting for new legal matter management solutions for your in-house legal department?
You're not alone. According to KPMG’s 2021 Global Legal Department Benchmarking Survey, corporate legal departments have several legal software options on their shopping lists, among them:
- Document automation – planned or under consideration by 54 percent of Legal Departments
- Data analytics – 45 percent
- Contract lifecycle management – 40 percent
- Modern legal matter management – 36 percent
- Legal budget tools – 28 percent
The challenge: KPMG also reports that just 4 percent of Legal Department staff identify as technology professionals. This means the task of identifying the right legal technology tools falls on those of us who are not necessarily fluent in bits and bytes.
It's easy to become overwhelmed with all this LegalTech talk, but whether your in-house legal department is large or small, there are five major things you should consider when vetting in-house legal department software solutions for your team.
1. Budget and scalability
Two-thirds of Legal Departments do not have formal budgets for LegalTech applications. According to the KPMG benchmarking report. This did not vary significantly depending on legal team size – 63 percent of large teams do not have tech budgets, and 68 percent of small teams do not.
When you are working without a clear budget in place, transparent pricing becomes paramount. Look for legal technology solutions with clear and straightforward pricing, such as a monthly fee per person.
In addition, look for legal management software as a service that allows you to easily add or remove seats throughout the year, so you avoid hassles or surprise charges if your Legal Department grows, uses temporary lawyers or staff, and so forth.
Remember that while it’s important to scout for a matter management solution that works for your Legal Department today, it’s also critical to think about your Legal Department in five to 10 years.
- How flexible are the pricing plans?
- Is the pricing plan clear, or are you locked into a long-term commitment with hidden costs?
- How easily can you add or subtract licenses?
- Can the in house legal software accommodate cross-border colleagues or external collaborators with multiple languages?
Tip: Curious about the ROI of your LegalTech – or need help making the business case? Xakia’s LegalTech ROI Calculator can help.
2. On-premises vs cloud hosting
Gone are the days an in-house Legal Department needs a costly or unwieldy on-premises solution that requires internal resources for installation, maintenance, and hosting.
Cloud based legal software can cater to small teams of one to 1,000 with ease of scalability. Look for cloud based legal tech solutions with enterprise-grade security features for both flexibility and peace of mind.
Tip: Check out our information security checklist to help provide some comfort before you buy.
Legal matter software vendors should be able to support both small and large legal teams through the onboarding process, from installation to training.
For small Legal Departments, setup is often most expeditious and efficient when vendors offer some “DIY” resources, such as step-by-step user guides and how-to videos.
Some large Legal Departments also may be able to get started themselves, but for those with more complex data or implementation requirements, the vendor should provide hands-on assistance, such as a dedicated Customer Success Manager who can develop a bespoke game plan.
Top tip: Whether you're considering a CLM, ELM, matter management software or any other legal technology tool, consider how complex, difficult to use or expensive it is to implement. Check out our blog to learn the differences and benefits of a CLM, ELM or matter management software.
4. Ease of use
KPMG reports that 96 percent of Legal Department team members are not techies. Any matter management solution must be user-friendly for everyone in your team. Take into account not only the range of positions who will use the in house legal software (paralegal, junior lawyer, general counsel, and so forth) but also their relative tech-savviness (or lack thereof).
To ensure your in house legal software is intuitive, look for legal tech tools built specifically for Legal Department workflows. Also, think outside the legal team and consider the perspective of stakeholders who interact with the software or its outputs. Does Legal Intake offer a helpful and simple interface for business clients? Are out-of-the-box legal reports clear for the C-suite – and can they be easily adjusted for custom requests?
Take into account how easy the legal technology solution is for your team to use on a daily basis and how easy or quick it is to set up the solution.
5. Global operations
Just as your in house legal software should accommodate various positions and experience levels, it also should support language needs across your organization. Legal teams with geographically dispersed teams – or business units – must have tools that support the full host of relevant languages, so you can effectively collaborate with a colleague in Tokyo or correspond with a business client in Paris.
In addition to your local language, look for a legal management software that empowers you to connect with stakeholders around the globe. Among the most common languages needed: English, Japanese, Spanish, French, Danish, Dutch, and Portuguese.
Bonus! More tips to consider when evaluating matter management tools
What kind of support is available to help you implement and deploy the cloud based legal software? What kind of “help desk” support is available for both routine questions and emergency issues? Does the in house legal software provider offer training videos, knowledgebase articles or email support? If you have any questions, or need help using the cloud based legal software, you should be able to easily get in touch with the in-house legal software vendor.
7. Time investment to get up and running
Recall that a primary promise of technology is to save lawyers time. Consider this:
- How will the legal matter software solution deliver on that promise?
- How long will it take to configure the software and train the team?
- How long will it actually take to use the key functions of this tool? (For example, with modern matter management, capturing new matter data should be possible in seconds – least you risk insurrection from your users)
- How much time savings can you reasonably expect from this legal technology?
8. Integrations with your other LegalTech tools
In-house legal departments rely on a number of software tools in their day-to-day management of matters, so it’s important that the legal matter management software you’re considering offers seamless integration options to your other legal technology tools, such as:
- Document Management Systems
- Legal automation tools
- Email - Outlook or Gmail
- Team collaboration tools - Microsoft Teams or Slack
9. Updates and upgrades
How often is the legal matter management software updated, and what happens when it is? Does it remain accessible? Does the price go up? Moreover, often the best ideas come from the field: Does the vendor provide a way for users to submit ideas for new or improved functionality? Can they share examples of specific changes they made based on user feedback?
There’s one more key attribute to evaluate. It’s one that may seem a little counterintuitive when you are shopping for technology, but it’s significant.
Beware the faceless monolith: Strive to understand the “who” behind your legal technology stack. Scout the company website; stalk the social media channels. Are the people behind the product visible and accessible? Do they have practical, applicable experience? Do they support and show up for industry organizations and causes that matter?
You want people who will be responsive to your IT Department’s questions. You want people who will be empathetic to your most tech-phobic users. You want people who will listen to your feedback and help you find the right solution for that very particular need of that very particular business client.
You want real people who will be around long after launch. If the people are committed to the product, they will be committed to the success of the Legal Departments that use it.
One final point to consider when evaluating legal matter software for your in house team
If you are in the market for LegalTech, whether it's modern matter management, a contract management software solution, or another matter management software for Legal Departments, it’s important to think about the big picture. Before spending the time and money on new legal technology solutions, take the time to assess your in-house Legal Department’s goals and priorities; this will help you ensure you have the right resources working together for the right reasons.