If you’re on your way to a client meeting and receive a redline, are you going to check it on the go? As we get more accustomed to hybrid work and working on the go, most of us check and send emails, proofread and compare documents, or attend meetings from the car, the coffee shop, or wherever we have service.
In 2022, the Law Firm Leadership Survey found that 54% of firms have implemented a permanent hybrid work environment for their lawyers, an increase of 20% from the previous year. This trend has an immense impact on the way the legal industry provides its services and the technology needed to support lawyers.
More notably, there has been a shift away from the desktop and increased adoption of laptops, tablets, and phones, with 25% of lawyers reporting that their firm provided this technology to aid them during the transition to hybrid or remote work.
But working on the go requires technology to follow you. Cloud and web solutions are becoming the norm across the legal industry, as lawyers embrace a new way of working and being efficient. Lawyers recognize the importance of this technology, with 70% agreeing that the cloud is paramount to the financial stability of law firms.
Law firms that do not provide cloud and web technologies to aid their lawyers, run the risk of them leaving. Worse, when lawyers understand that they need technology to be more effective, they will take it upon themselves to use it, whether the firm is on board or not. As the Training Specialist at Winstead PC, John Graves, stated in our latest webinar:
“It is frustrating to a lawyer and to the staff when they need to do something and they can't do it. And then what we see is that they'll go find a solution to do it and they'll download it and start using it without telling anybody. So now Support has to support it and they don't know what they're doing with it. Then Training has to get caught up with it and it becomes a constant cycle of struggle trying to keep up with what's going on.”
Providing the right cloud and web technology for lawyers is therefore paramount to retention, lawyer happiness, and firm governance. If lawyers are using technology unmonitored by their firm, the risk of inadvertently sharing sensitive client information or opening a gateway to a cyberattack is inevitable.
Documents are the lifeblood of a law firm, and ensuring that lawyers have the right drafting technology at their fingertips is crucial. The ability to compare and clean documents on the go ensures that lawyers aren’t missing crucial changes to their documents or sharing sensitive metadata with other parties – wherever they happen to be working.
To adapt to the new way lawyers work, law firms must adapt to secure legal technology in the cloud. Most law firms have recognized this and that’s why Gartner predicts that legal technology budgets will increase threefold by 2025.
If you’re considering how to empower lawyers to properly draft documents on the go, here are three crucial components.
Deploy a Flexible, Web Based Document Comparison Software
At this point in the legal industry’s technology adoption, most lawyers use some type of document comparison software: Microsoft Word’s track changes or a point solution. The alternative is manual comparisons, which at best will make any legal professional exhausted, and at worst, create large write-offs and write-downs as clients refuse to pay for something that can be easily done with technology.
Even within the document comparison solution space, large feature gaps exist. Meeting lawyers where they work requires a solution that can confidently capture all changes in a document and allow them to run redlines across devices. If you’re in the market for such a solution, here’s what to look for:
Ability to compare documents on the desktop and as a server solution
Availability to generate comparisons via desktop, tablet, or mobile in Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, etc.
Ability to generate and review redlines for Microsoft Word, Excel, PPT, and PDF documents
Increased accuracy of comparisons by employing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology in scanned PDF documents
Flexibility to compare documents in desktop Microsoft documents or in the browser
Capabilities that allow filtering of changes, ease of accepting/rejecting changes, and choosing to view a comparison and redline the way it works best for the user
Ability to send files to compare to a specific email address and receive a redline back, without the need for an application interface
Integrations with Microsoft 365, Google Suite, popular legal Document Management Systems (DMS), such as iManage and NetDocuments, and more.
These are only some of the features your comparison solution should have to make the lives of your lawyers easier – no matter where they are working from.
Deploy Web Based Document Cleaning Software
Lawyers send emails and documents wherever they are as they basically live in Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Word. But sharing documents – especially with external parties – carries a large amount of risk. The risk begins with forgetting track changes and comments in the document and amplifies when you consider metadata.
Metadata, or data about data, is found in every document. Anyone who opens a particular document can see the author, who modified the document, the document title, tags, subject, category, company name, whether it’s been reviewed or printed, etc. All this information is confidential – between the lawyer and the client – and must not be available to other parties. And while sending a document with metadata to the right client is not an issue, lawyers have a specific duping and revising process when creating documents that make this issue critical to the reputation of a firm.
Many lawyers create a new document on top of a previous document, simply editing the information within it to match a new matter or client. That means the metadata from the previous document is carried over. When shared with the new client, everyone can see what they were working on previously. This is a serious confidentiality breach that causes clients to lose their trust in a firm’s ability to keep the information confidential, damages the firm’s reputation, and may even lead to a malpractice suit.
Cleaning metadata, track changes, and comments in documents are crucial no matter what device the lawyer is using. Leveraging a document cleaning solution allows firms to:
Clean different types of metadata within Microsoft documents, PDFs, images, ZIP files, etc.
Clean comments and track changes from documents
Create cleaning profiles based on document risk that speeds up the cleaning process
Set firm-wide sensitive data handling and data loss prevention policies
Manage attachments and their security by adjusting access, setting passwords, reordering, or binding them
Analyze data to monitor risks from email and documents shared
Access from the desktop, tablet, or phone from Microsoft documents or Microsoft Outlook
Integrate with common DMS’ like iManage and NetDocuments, iManage Security Policy Manager, Microsoft 365, SharePoint Online, etc.
With these capabilities, your lawyers will be the rockstars of mitigating risk and can freely clean documents from any location or device.
Litera Compare and Metadact Web Apps: Efficient Document Comparison and Cleaning
Legal technology needs are constantly shifting and growing, and each firm must adapt to the best and latest solutions. At Litera, we are focused on providing software tools that help lawyers, partners, IT and business leaders focus on their craft and expand what their firm can accomplish.
Our Drafting suite offers best-in-class solutions that capture the entire drafting workflow, from document creation to publishing. The suite offers flexible tools that lawyers can leverage anywhere they are, especially when it comes to document comparison and cleaning.
Litera Compare is a document comparison solution for desktop and mobile that detects changes across any two documents in seconds, reducing the complexity of comparing legal and business documents. It allows firms to deliver better client experiences, enhance collaboration, and mitigate the risk of missing crucial changes in documents.
Metadact is our metadata cleaning solution that scrubs metadata and tracks changes, comments, etc., from documents across any device, enhancing Data Loss Protection, document security, and collaboration. Metadact empowers legal professionals to share the cleanest, most professional version of a document and removes the risk of sharing sensitive information via email.