Six small but powerful ways to help your lawyers do more each day

Introduction

Competitive pressures, juggling client expectations and the age-old challenge to “do more for less” affects the legal services sector like any other industry.

But with the scarcity of legal talent driving law firms to do even more each day within existing headcount, the problem is exacerbated and unlikely to resolve itself anytime soon.

Tech “done right” can play a huge role in enabling lawyers to streamline and super-charge performance and, ultimately, be more profitable.

Here’s six ways in which we are helping thousands of lawyers be more efficient and achieve super-human results to out-perform their competitors.

1. Go with the flow and avoid ‘context switching’

Many have called this now legendary Clubhouse livestream comment by one of the great entrepreneurial innovators of our time as a deeply profound statement.

What Musk means is that when we are constantly switching from one task to another, our productivity, and indeed our mind, is destroyed. Put simply, we are constantly breaking our natural flow and jeopardising the successful completion of each task.

While we agree that Musk’s observation goes to the very heart of one of modern life’s biggest impediments, it’s not a new phenomenon. We’re positively fixated on addressing this very issue and have spent the last five years and more on developing technology solutions to improve and enhance flow time for legal firms.

So how does ShareDo help with context switching?

ShareDo prioritises your workload, enabling you to quickly see the most pressing task that requires your focus at any single point in time. It constantly adapts and re-prioritises tasks as matters evolve, giving you the right focus at the right time.

ShareDo also monitors your work against critical success factors. If something changes, such as a task is soon to be overdue or how now been flagged as more urgent, it alerts you. And, importantly, it provides you with any supporting tools and contextual help to reduce the likelihood of switching to a different task.

Just like we would recommend you do with other technology apps like e-mail, Slack and Teams, ShareDo also lets you “mute” notifications to avoid that ever-present curse of context switching. This can be set at a granular level, so you can again minimise any breaks in flow.

However much we may think that we’ve reached legendary status in multi-tasking, our brains cannot focus on two sources of input at one time.

2. Delegate tasks and optimise your resource levels

Outside of the “lawyering” to be done on a matter, there are many activities which can be delegated to support staff, shared service centres or processing teams. Activities such as compliance activities, litigation and post completion support require a lot of resource to complete.

Given the scarcity of legal talent, it’s imperative for your lawyers to be able to delegate these tasks quickly and reliably. Added to this, you need to be confident that tasks are delegated safe in the knowledge that your key people will be kept informed of their outcome.

ShareDo provides an ‘instant delegate’ function for all activity, alongside resourcing dashboards and notifications so you can keep track of progress and overall performance.

But managing traffic of work is only half the picture.

Implementing a shared service centre using ShareDo is an excellent way to centralise common processes and provide relief for fee-earners from repetitive non-legal tasks. Again, they’ll always remain up-to-date on progress and vital information.

This brings a real step-change to our client’s overall performance. But there is more that can be achieved by automating the allocation of these tasks through ‘allocation rules’ that makes the whole process even more streamlined.

ShareDo brings extra power to your people and operations through an accumulation of incremental improvements to how you collaborate

3. Great UX saves many minutes, many times each day

When you think about user experience (UX) in digital platforms, you may mistakenly think about a slickly designed user interface (UI) or quick loading app.

UX is about much more than this.

It’s about applying a deep understanding of how people can best interact with your platform to complete tasks and collaborate with others to be more successful. It’s about focusing on people’s needs and making every task they complete as streamlined and as intuitive as possible.

Optimising case interactions can shave minutes off every single process, each and every time it is undertaken. These frequently saved minutes quickly add up to huge savings. Minutes that enable your fee-earners to achieve the super-human results they thrive on.

Most case management systems are designed to be the key operational system for your internal staff and the platform they will be using for a good proportion of each day. Poorly designed case management systems often do more harm than good. They not only frustrate your people but can lead to above average employee attrition. Needless to say, it is imperative that user experience is “front of mind” for a case management system.

ShareDo’s UX is designed explicitly for legal teams and individuals. Designed and built from the ground up, it is not a by-product of a software platform designed for a different purpose. Instead, every ‘line of code’ has been written and continually optimised to streamline for legal processes. This is why we confidently describe ShareDo as being “designed for you”.

Truly great UX, however, recognises that not all ‘users’ are the same. In addition to varying job roles, they will have different needs, skills and preferred styles of working to name but a few.

ShareDo is powered by a unique ‘persona engine’ that enables the personalisation of every single interaction by role and user type.

4. Unprecedented levels of ‘Automated Precedents’

Why reinvent the wheel when you can press a button and have a document generated for you in seconds.

ShareDo contains advanced automated document assembly functionality to enable every member of your team to “do more for less”.

Most routine operation – whether simple or multi-faceted – is automated, transferring further minutes of time to fee-earning activities.

5. Seamless sharing and clever collaboration

You’ve created a brilliant piece of legal advice and need to share it. But, as is often the case, time is limited, and it’s put aside for when you have more time to do this. Time that will never come.

Just like any other form of interaction, ShareDo makes it easy to save time and seamlessly share this with relevant groups, saving you that all important time and avoidance of dreaded context switching.

As the name suggests, ShareDo makes sharing easy. Within a couple of clicks or drag-and-drop of your mouse, you can send files via DocuSign, email, outsourced post, or share materials via a Virtual Dataroom, safe in the knowledge that external access is secure and strictly controlled.

6. Automate to save time

Probably the most effective way to save time is to simply to get the “machine” to do the work for you.

By automating key steps in your processes – or indeed the whole process – you can significantly boost your “lawyering” capacity.

The key is to automate appropriately for you “work style”, as different user groups and different practice groups will need varying degrees of automation. That’s why ShareDo advance workflow capabilities enable you to support different work management styles across your business.

+1. Save an hour a day

At ShareDo, we’re all about the +1s, and this list-based article is no different!

Imagine what you could do if you had an additional working hour each day?

Bill more.
Contribute to practice-wide initiatives.
Update your knowledge management.
Focus on client service improvements.
Support a colleague.
Something else?

……..Or (whisper it) simply feel less pressure.

Many of our clients set themselves the challenge of ‘saving an hour a day’ – a bold statement, perhaps, but one that is achievable when you look holistically at the savings that could be achieved.

Challenge our claims

If you would like to join the ‘Hour a Day Challenge’ then please contact us for a consultation via one of the routes below.

Empowering legal professionals through technology and process support

The challenge

Your brightest professionals will be passionate about their chosen careers but will often wear many hats out of necessity and end up handling tasks that don’t require a legal degree or the experience gained over years of practicing law. These “distractions” will at best diminish their billable hours or client relationship building but will at worst diminish their love for the firm. For these reasons empowering legal professionals should be at the heart of our legal operations mindset.

To understand how we might best empower our fee earners we need to focus in on 3 elements:

Non-value activities

  1. Using the data from ShareDo, methodologies such as Lean Six Sigma can be applied to determine the value and non-value add activities that are being performed in the system.
  2. Identifying non-value adding activities, those that clients are unwilling to pay for directly or indirectly, and eliminating them either via process change or automation can significantly improve the value that clients receive and your ability to competitively provide quality service to your clients.

Utilising specialist skills set

  1. Legal professionals are hired primarily for their expert knowledge, creativity, ability to build client relationships and the ability to draw expert based opinions from limited information.
  2. Their legal training and experience allows them to perform skilled tasks such as identifying points of weakness in an opposition, identify technical challenges in contracts and negotiating settlements.
  3. Identifying tasks that take them away from these core functions is critical in implementing the efficient and effective legal operations required to bring client value and succeed in a highly competitive market.

Rework

  1. Using data captured around when activities are performed correctly the first time can allow identification of sticking points in the process and reduce the overhead on legal professionals by applying corrective measures to those processes or practices that are causing them additional work.

Our challenge then is to design our services to maximise the “lawyering” that are legal professionals are able to do and provide appropriate support to ensure that non legal activities are delivered to the same high quality standards.

Since ShareDo has been designed for the single purpose of making legal process more efficient it contains 100s of rich features to make your legal professionals life easier!

12 quick processes to automate that will make your lawyers happy

1. Go Paperless and share files seamlessly

Electronic files are a faster and easier mechanism for providing legal services than traditional paper. Documents can be searched for, shared and collaborated on in real time and can be securely accessed from anywhere using cloud based technologies such as ShareDo.

  1. Seamlessly store documents to your document repository tool
  2. Use Sharedo virtual data rooms to securely share and collaborate on documents
  3. Use workflow to trigger actions based on the upload of documents
  4. Initial automated chase processes for documents that have missed their deadline

2. Delegate work

The ShareDo delegation functionality allows you to delegate a task or part of a task to another user whilst keeping accountability and ownership of the task. This allows fee earners to hand off tasks to colleagues with different skill sets without losing sight of progress or visibility of the outcome.

3. Disaggregation

Use ShareDo’s work disaggregation capability to make sure your legal professionals receive the right tasks at the right time and ensure legal professionals are working on the activities where they add the most value to your clients.

  1. Use ShareDo competencies to define the skills of your users and teams
  2. Smart allocation rules use the context and complexity of the work to determine who the most appropriate resources is and make sure your legal professionals are receiving skill appropriate work.
  3. Round robin and ‘busyness’ capabilities allow you to allocate tasks based on resource workload as well as capability
  4. Set up centralised teams to deal with common processes allowing standardisation and the ability for the legal teams to focus on applying their valuable expertise to legal activities and client relationships
  5. Allow senior legal professionals to reduce risk and to mentor and guide their colleagues using complexity based approval processes

4. Automate your precedents using smart content

ShareDo’s rich document automation functionality allows legal professionals to focus on the parts of precedents that require their legal acumen rather than focusing on standard clauses or, more frustratingly, the formatting of a document.

Author
Author pre-defined precedents using our integrated word app downloaded from the Microsoft App Store.

Automatically vary content
ShareDo precedents pull in data from your matter and use smart content to hide and show content based on work type, complexity or other factors.

Write it once
Smart content and content blocks can be used to significantly reduce the operational overhead of maintaining a large volume of precedents

Clause bank
Fee earners or document authors can create or maintain predefined legal clauses or text

Integrate into your existing infrastructure
Take advantage of our O365, DocuSign, iManage and sharepoint integration to seamlessly integrate your fee earners experience of generating, storing and sharing documents

5. Implement smart working with smart plan workflow

Legal professionals can take advantage of our powerful smart plan technology to automate areas of the legal process that are repeatable or require additional oversight. Where processes can’t be fully automated our dynamic workflow engine can assess the type and complexity of work and provide tasks, activities and checklists that allows users to execute their workload in the most efficient way.

For every activity that is produced in the system helpful calls to action are added to present the user with the right piece of the application in which to perform the action. Documents and emails can be automated including chasers for information or documents required from the client or third parties.

6. Implement shared service centres

Many legal professions find themselves spending time on tasks that are often administrative and common across multiple work types. Typical examples of this are the matter inception process, conflict or AML checks, inbound post.

Implementing a shared service centre using ShareDo is an excellent way to centralise common processes and provide relief for your fee earners from these non-legal tasks whilst providing them with up to date information about progress.

ShareDo also provides the infrastructure and security to share workload with outsourcing providers, allowing you to further allow your fee earners to focus on their core skillsets and to make use of lower cost resource.

7. Time recording

Keeping track of your billable and non-billable hours can be challenging. ShareDo offers sophisticated time recording functionality that enables fee earners to log time with little or no effort.

Delight your legal professionals by taking away from them the burden of time recording and allow ShareDo to automatically stop and start timers or automatically logging time when they are completing certain tasks.

8. E-signature

Use our e-signature capability to speed up the ability to get final documents signed off. Integration with DocuSign allows fee earners to share documents with clients and third parties and receive signatures online.

9. Client Self Service

Whilst building and maintaining client relationships is one of the key skills of any legal professional many clients want to be able to proactively track and monitor the progress of a case.

ShareDo’s external portals allow the fee earners to provide the clients with their own dashboard on which to track cases. Different business areas can choose to securely show as little or as much information as they like to clients. External views can provide sophisticated management information to B2B clients whereas consumers can see a simple, intuitive version of external portals.

Portals can be configured to allow clients or third parties to upload documents, provide approvals and even action their own tasks. Empowering the client in this way not only brings value to them but allows the fee earner to reduce the amount of ‘are we nearly there yet’ conversations by keeping the client in the loop at all times.

10. Client Reporting

Reporting to you clients should be a simple task however we have all seen legal professionals spending significant portions of time on extracting or manipulating data to provide custom client reports.

Implementing ShareDo gives your fee earners the freedom to capture the specific data points required for client reporting without requiring the overhead of creating specific work types or processes. Clients can either self-serve via the external portals or reports can be produced from our powerful data warehouse capability. The modern API structure of the system also allows data to be pushed or pulled through into client systems to allow your process to be fully integrated with theirs.

11. Work Management

Using our work management tools and screens allows legal professionals to quickly gain an oversight of the progress of work on a specific matter or to gain a holistic view across their teams work portfolio.

Our out of the box reports can be used to view the workload of different team members and to drill down into the detail of individual tasks or cases. Work is prioritised by due date enabling team members to understand when tasks need to be completed and to ensure that client SLA’s are met.

12. Collaboration

Use the many collaboration tools in ShareDo to allow your lawyers teams to seamlessly work together. This is just a sample of some of the ways you can collaborate using ShareDo.

Shared view of work
A secure shared view of work and matter portfolios allows teams, departments and individuals to share and re-allocate work

@Mentions
Use social media style mentions to notify colleagues of changes or comments on a file – choose to receive in app or email notifications

Milestone visibility
Use key dates to share key milestones on your matter amongst colleagues and use our configurable plan views to share these

Collaborate
Collaboratively work on documents for your case either internally with colleagues or externally with clients or third parties

Share Knowledge
Use a matter wiki to build up a collaborative view on the matter

Share the story
ShareDo’s powerful chronology features allows you to share the story of the matter amongst colleagues and clients. Giving you the ability to filter or sort the narrative based on points of interest, time or people.

What will case management software look like in the year 2030?

Introduction

The average lifespan of a case management system is 10 years.

This article explores some of the themes that are either emerging now or are likely to emerge over the next 5-10 years and takes a brief look at what a Case and Matter management system might look like in 10 years’ time.

10 years carries significance for a couple of reasons:

Agricultural Age: 4000 – 1700 AD

Industrial Age: 1700 AD – 1960 AD

Information Age: 1960 AD – 2030 AD

Knowledge Age: 2030 AD – ???

Firstly it’s the end of what a lot of people call the information age and the start of the next age which is called a variety of things such as Knowledge, Reckoning or the like.

Learning CMS Systems

Workflow by Example

So the CMS of 2030 will I believe address one of my personal pet hates; the process of converting process maps into workflow systems.

Like many business analysts I’ve spent a good chunk of my career analysing a mountain of process maps… and then spent another good chunk of my career converting them into workflow models.

Now there are a number of problems to this approach

  1. Firstly it takes a lot of time … things get lost in translation .. processes change in the time it takes us to implement them
  2.  Secondly people don’t fundamentally follow process charts

Our CMS of 2030 will learn these by observation and suggest the optimum “standardised processes”. This in turn will significantly reduce the effort that is required to implement these sort of processes. Likewise by designing more and more processes around adaptive case management methods users will be given more and more freedom to quickly step outside of the process.

Data Driven Decisions

So whilst solving the workflow problem is a reasonable sized problem to address the same techniques will also be applied to other similar questions. And hence the CMS of 2030 will enable us to quickly answer questions such as:

  • “How long will this case take?”
  • “How much will this case cost?”

The net result is that we will be more accurate in the management of ad-hoc work and much of the “routine” will be implemented from case processes.

Addressing information overload

Both in our day to day life and our business life we are bombarded by information… and everyone’s information is always more important than others!

A case or matter management system is no different and users can quickly be overloaded by “noise”. They become desensitised to it and the information becomes worthless.

Today we allow user to change the frequency of these notifications. So for example they can “turn down the noise” to only receive approval notifications once a week.

But the CMS of 2030 will solve these problems, understand the concept of “pertinent information” and hence the information we receive will become meaningful rather than noise to be ignored.

[Editor note: whilst this is a conceptually easy problem to understand its significantly harder to solve!]

Designing for People and Machines

Case Management systems collect a huge amount of complex structured and structured information .. Information that through its sheer volumes can again become “overloaded”.

So we’re pretty proud of our Case Management UX at Sharedo – its designed for people to complete ad-hoc workflows as they go through their journeys (we call these “blades”).

That said from a product perspective we consider ourselves part way through the journey from a traditional GUI to what is termed a NUI or Natural User Interface.

However I’m equally certain that the UX of the CMS of 2030 is going to change significantly even from where ShareDo is today. Analysts talk about the next evolution beyond NUI as being Organic User Interfaces … personally I’m slightly cynical as to whether the bulk of case handlers will be wearing VR headsets and manipulating files in a 3 dimensional space in 10 years but I could well be wrong.

That said I do think what we will start seeing is the integration of chat bots together with almost a retro “command line interface” into case systems.

We’re starting to experiment with similar styles of interaction to that seen in applications like slack.

In this world the primary case view would be your case history and from there you will be able to perform any action quickly.

This is an interface that we will gradually start to see evolving into a more natural language style of UX.

As the desire to automate more and more activities progresses so will the need increased need for case systems to also be designed to be machine centric.

In common with most modern case and matter management applications we design ShareDo API First.

API First essentially means two things:

  1. We start by designing the API by which data and behaviour can be consumed.
  2. And then layer on any required user interface components

What this means in practice is that every single interaction that can be completed through the UI can also be completed via a machine to machine call; whether that is configuring a document or entering matter data.

That said I think the case systems of the future need to be more sophisticated than this however and will be able to support dynamic supply chains where different elements of the case lifecycle are provided by a different organisation.

Saying goodbye to valueless data entry

I think we have all done a reasonable large amount of valueless data entry in our careers to date.… and as someone who has spent a considerable time designing complex data entry forms I am only too aware of:

  • how much of this data is duplicated
  • how little the majority of users care about this “gold”
  • … and hence how the existing model for data entry is currently far from optimal

So whilst we move towards more machine to machine CMS integration much of this effort will be eased, the CMS of 2030 will be significantly more sophisticated in the way in which it extracts data from textual documents using sentiment style analysis. For example we will take information from the likes of medical reports and turn these into structured data more easily.

Today we are broadly solving these challenges using:

  • Brute force algorithms that require a huge amount of time and data to train
  • Or by throwing cheap resource at the problem
  • Or indeed deploying an army of python developers etc

The CMS of 2030 will be deploying entirely more sophisticated algorithms at this problem set and hence reduce “valueless data entry”

Automating the activity not the role

As we squeeze the last few drops out of big data and lean six sigma…we will be automating the activity (but not the role!)

So over the course of the next 10 years we will be gradually be removing friction and non value added activities from human involvement with our CMS.

There is a quote from someone at the London Business school that describes this process as, and I paraphrase, as “… squeezing the last drops of juice from the oranges that are Lean Six Sigma and Big Data.”

And hence for many processes using our CMS of 2030 our job will be to manage transactions by exception.

But for the majority of processes; using the CMS of 2030 will make I believe the working life of our users a much more positive thing. With the CMS removing much of the “mundane” we can focus on being more human which has to be a good thing.