How an Intranet Can Change Workflow in Your Law FirmJune 2017
Are you looking for a way to change how work flows in your law firm? You’re not alone. Legal teams across the country and around the globe are looking for technologies that can maximize their efficiency and help them drive growth. One technological resource that many law firms aren’t taking advantage of, though, is the intranet.
In the simplest of terms, an intranet is a private network that is only accessible to people within your law firm. In more complex terms, an intranet can be designed and customized to offer a profusion of different services and resources. The most common software for building and managing company intranets is Microsoft SharePoint.
Because so much work and customization are needed to create an intranet—and because SharePoint is a software with a steep learning curve—many law firms have opted not to build their own intranets. While configuring an intranet is certainly no overnight task, though, the fact is that the benefits can and should far outweigh the drawbacks.
Indeed, an intranet can serve so many different purposes in your law firm that, if you set it up correctly, it will completely transform the workflow of your business. One popular use for an intranet is document management. An intranet provides a place where your employees can access files online but keeps them on your private network in a secure fashion. Client data, HR policies, company forms, and much more can be uploaded, stored, and shared through your intranet. With SharePoint, you can even set up workflows for document approval, establish permissions so that only certain team members can access individual files, or collaborate on documents digitally.
This kind of system is beneficial for several reasons. First, you can tag documents on your intranet with metadata, so that they are easily searchable and discoverable. This feature saves your employees the hassle of having to hunt down files relevant to the cases they’re working on—whether that means digging around in the file room or finding the person who can share a particular file. Second, the option to collaborate on projects remotely allows for quicker progress on casework and unlocks the full potential of your team instead of confining key talent in different silos. Finally, digital document management allows you to automate document retention policies—an important consideration for law firms.
The other leading benefit of having a company intranet for your law firm is how it can streamline communication. Email is an inefficient communication channel in the legal world. Many lawyers and paralegals end up feeling overloaded by the amount of email, and if someone is out for a day and misses essential communication, it can have an adverse impact on the entire firm. Through team sites and project groups, your intranet can facilitate superior inter-firm communication and lessen the strain on individual email inboxes. Parts of intranets can be arranged resembling social networks, allowing for breezy chat-based communication that fosters faster flow of information and keeps everyone on the same page.
We’ve only scratched the surface of what a well-designed intranet can do, but you can probably already see how much value intranets can bring to the legal world.