Two law firm IT and practice solutions leaders recently took part in a Litera webinar focused on the advantages of consolidating and integrating drafting solutions onto a single platform.
Melissa Speidel, Business Transformation Leader at K&L Gates, and John Graves, Training Specialist at Winstead PC, were Litera’s guests for the webinar. They were joined by Matt Miller, VP of Product, Litera, and the webinar was moderated by Ian Lee, Director of Product Marketing at Litera.
Speidel and Graves have years of experience deploying drafting solutions at their firms. The discussion with them was full of practical and insightful tips on the benefits of consolidating drafting solutions and some best practices for ensuring the successful adoption of these tools in law firms. Both have successfully deployed Litera Desktop to integrate drafting tools in their firms. Here are some of the key insights from the webinar.
Meeting Lawyers Where They Work
One frustration many lawyers face is the proliferation of point solutions – separate software applications that provide some important function in the lawyer’s workflow but are all accessed separately and take lawyers out of their routine to access. Speidel noted that her global firm has over 300 separate applications to support. Three hundred applications that need to be installed and constantly maintained and upgraded, and 300 applications that lawyers need to learn how to use and integrate into their work. That’s a tremendous burden on Speidel and her team, but it also burdens the firm’s lawyers, who would rather spend time serving clients than learning new software applications and jumping between software tools.
For drafting, Speidel noted, Microsoft’s Outlook, Word, and Excel applications are where lawyers spend most of their working day. To her, it simply makes sense for the various tasks they face when drafting – creating, proofreading, reviewing, comparing, cleaning, file sharing, and publishing to PDF – to exist within a single ribbon inside Microsoft Word.
Speidel first realized the power of the consolidation of drafting tools at a partner retreat in 2018 when she presented Litera Desktop to partners, which resonated immediately. “It spoke to them. It met them where they lived. It helped them do something that they did every day. It wasn’t asking them to pop out of Word; it allowed them to stay where they were at.”
It’s easy to see the efficiency argument for consolidating drafting tools into a single ribbon, but one other significant benefit that both Speidel and Graves see is risk mitigation. Consistency and correctness are a lawyer’s stock in trade. Drafts representing firm standards, from using the firm’s preferred precedents to ensuring that section numbering systems and cross-references are accurate and standardized, are essential for a firm’s reputation and client confidence.
Graves related a story about a training session with a group of lawyers on Litera’s Contract Companion software – now part of Litera Desktop. He asked for a sample draft contract to demonstrate how the software works. One of the lawyers – a senior, “high-powered” attorney - provided a contract he had been working on that day. The contract was run through Contract Companion, and it revealed that the lawyer had failed to close a parenthesis in the contract. Missing a parenthesis can, at a minimum, create ambiguity, and in the extreme, it can make the contract subject to appeal, noted Graves. When Graves pointed out the error, the lawyer immediately ran from the room and shouted to his secretary, “don’t send it!” But the contract was already gone. Dejected, the lawyer returned to the training room and said, “listen, pay attention to what this guy says because this is going to cost us money.”
There are plenty of risks involved in legal work, but the errors and risks that can appear in the drafting process don’t need to happen when the right tools are in place.
Lawyers Should Lawyer
The flip side of using technology to ensure accuracy in legal documents is that lawyer time is better spent on higher-value activities such as analysis and advising clients.
Speidel mentioned a partner at her firm who refused to review a junior associate’s work until it had been fully run through Litera’s Contract Companion. The lawyer said, “I do not have the time to proofread their proofreading; I don’t know them well, and I need to build trust. Do I want to mentor them on proofreading or on how to negotiate? I want to spend my time on higher value work.”
Testing and Adoption
The webinar concluded with a discussion of tools and techniques used to ensure the adoption of drafting tools and the firm’s return on its investments. Speidel suggested creating a lab environment to test upgrades and automated test scripts as standard practice before rolling out new or upgraded software. Graves suggested a unique approach to choosing pilot teams to test new products – “we want the people who hate the products to be on the pilot teams,” the thought being that if those skeptical users can be won over, they will become good evangelists and promoters of the tools.
Access the Webinar & Learn More
The entirewebinar, Hear It From Your Peers: The Benefits of Consolidating Your Drafting Solutions, is now available as on-demand. To learn more about how Litera Desktop can help law firms and in-house teams streamline drafting, check out our eBook or schedule a meeting to see the product in action.
Posted in Drafting