Whether working at a top law firm, in-house counsel or even as a sole practitioner, most lawyers spend hours on hours reviewing contracts and documents. A very time-consuming process that can be costly when mistakes are made or deadlines are missed. Having previously worked within the legal industry I have heard countless war stories of lawyers taking home bundles of contracts for review, working full weekends and nights and stressing over tight deadlines. With so many pitfalls with contract reviews, legal teams are now starting to recognise the importance of using technology to boost productivity and modernise their practice. However, there are still many firms that need to embrace a more tech-savvy approach to stay competitive.
The traditional manual review process usually involves drafting a legal document and sending it to multiple people for review or editing via email attachments. Email tracked changes works fine when it is one to one but as more people become involved in the review things become challenging. The result is the document owner must then go through multiple email attachments, copying and pasting edits from different versions into the original document, multiple review cycles and several review meetings all within a scheduled deadline.
Stressful, time consuming, unproductive.
This can result in multiple copies of the document, missed deadlines, hours of consolidating various comments and changes which usually spill over into a whole weekend of work or more serious issues such as leaks of confidential information. To overcome these problems, I’m going to be looking at 3 ways a document co-authoring, review and redaction solution can help your firm break free from stressful review cycles and increase productivity.
1. Confidentiality & Compliance
Documents, Legal briefs, contracts, forms, and letters are the lifeblood of law firms, all of which contain information of a sensitive nature. Manually co-authoring typically results in multiple copies being sent to several people, increasing the risk of information leaks. Any information leak can result in a lawsuit, a loss of the firm’s reputation and ultimately a loss in company finances.
The introduction of cloud-based software is now minimising the risk of these leaks happening. As they are online single-source documents, the document owner is given the ability to allow certain people the privilege of downloading a copy or even restricting downloading the document altogether. The owner can also set time restrictions, select workflow groups, redact information and allocate sections of the document to selected participants. By eliminating the associated risk with document transferring, it has now streamlined document reviews, added security and given lawyers peace of mind.
2. Tracking Paperwork
When multiple people are working on a document, multiple versions are often created containing different edits. It can become very confusing to understand which version is the latest, who has made changes, managing conflicts and determining if all the accepted changes have been consolidated. Losing track of these records is a legal malpractice and will cost the firm or its clients more money to resolve the case than would otherwise have been required. Document collaboration software keeps a full audit trail of all the changes, this means the owner is always aware of who has made what changes with an exact date and time. To avoid any confusion with the document version, only a single source document is accessible to everyone who needs to review or work on it, including external counsel, lawyers, and clients.
3. Managing deadlines
Missed deadlines pose the biggest risk for practitioners. One missed deadline can have a detrimental effect on a firm’s future success. A damaged reputation, loss of clients and legal action often follow when a missed deadline. So, this means law firms need to be on point to ensure each person can review their section of the document on time. One small delay in the review can domino into major delays further along the review cycle.
With firms now implementing document review software, it is allowing teams to work on the same document at the same time. Before this, usually one person/group would be working on the document at a time before passing their edits onto the next group of reviewers and so on. Now, review owners can ensure deadlines are met by sending automated reminders, allocating sections to reviewers and consolidating comments including conflicting changes all at once, all of which reduces the time it takes for the review to be completed.
With law firms becoming more and more globalised one question that clients are now asking is ‘How does this law firm collaborate with us? How are they using technology?’ One way that the software has capitalised on this question is by empowering lawyers to be more mobile when collaborating. Cloud based single source documents are now making it possible for lawyers to collaborate from different platforms such as their mobile phone or tablet. This means they can now collaborate from coffee shops, on flights or even on their daily commute, allowing them the flexibility to access the system anywhere at any time, giving them a real advantage over a firm that is still using the traditional email review process.
Document co-authoring, review and redaction solutions can help legal teams create and review documents in a more controlled and efficient way that enables organisations to meet strict regulatory and compliance standards and time lines. They do this by:
- Providing owner management
- Allowing large numbers of reviewers to work simultaneously on a single document
- Catering for various document types including Microsoft word, excel, PowerPoint and PDF
- Offering offline and tablet reviews
- Allowing a secure, controlled and collaborative document environment
- Delivering comprehensive reporting, change consolidation and easy reconciliation of comments and changes.
If you’d like to find out more about how a document co-authoring, review and redaction solution could help your practice then get in touch to request a consultation with one of our specialists.