The COVID-19 pandemic has forced legal teams to figure out how to work remotely. Many of these same legal teams adopted "band aid" processes to deal with distributed work in the short term, which is a short-sighted strategy. No matter when or if legal comes "back in the building," some of your business counterparts will stay remote for a while longer, or perhaps or forever.
That means some form of remote work will be the "new normal," and legal teams will need to embrace these three changes to adapt to this new reality.
For time-honored privacy and confidentiality reasons, lawyers have always preferred in-person meetings or, at worst, private phone calls when discussing legal issues with their partners and clients. It's time to embrace modern meeting alternatives.
Thanks to modern encryption technology, communication methods like email, collaboration apps like Slack, and even video-conferencing software can be made reasonably secure. Whatever appears in recordings or captured written records of these online conversations may be subject to subpoena, but it isn't likely to be spied upon or exposed without your consent. Lawyers need to get comfortable having general conversations and conducting general legal planning via these methods, rather than in person or via phone.
And when you absolutely have to have a private, off-the-record conversation, a good old-fashioned phone call is still just fine.
The reason behind most business meetings, including legal meetings, is to discuss strategies and plan next steps. You can minimize the need for these meetings by adopting repeatable legal processes that don't have to be re-planned every time they're called for.
For starters, set a clear workflow for drafting, redlining, finalizing, and executing legal agreements, so everyone knows who is responsible for which project at each step in the cycle. This will also make it easier for anyone to know the status of a legal agreement without needing to ask or, worse, call a meeting.
Next, establish a legal "chain of command" and set of responsibilities, so everyone knows who can draft, redline, finalize or execute what type of agreements in which circumstances, so you don't have to constantly meet to hand out assignments.
Finally, work up agreement templates and boilerplate language so you don't have to meet to discuss terms and language, and so your legal standards stay consistent.
With a little planning, you can operationalize your most common legal processes, so meetings are only required for unusual and unexpected legal situations.
While building processes reduces the need for meetings, automating those processes with software reduces the possibility of error. Working from home may have its advantages (sweatpants), but it also comes with a whole slew of potential distractions (family members, household chores, and Netflix).
Using software to automate many of your repeatable legal processes helps distraction-proof your at-home work. Automation also helps work done anywhere get done more quickly and consistently. Software does the same actions in the same way every time, and it has spell-check built in.
Thanks to modern artificial intelligence, you can draft contracts from boilerplate language, analyze that language for due diligence and compliance, and monitor your contracts for key dates, terms and obligations -- all automatically, with minimal human oversight. Those are advantages in the office, and must-haves for distributed remote teams
AI doesn't just preclude legal meetings and prevent legal errors, it provides legal sanity -- which is in short supply during a work-from-home pandemic.
Working in a remote legal team doesn't have to mean working at a disadvantage. "Remote control" should be your new legal mantra. By embracing meeting alternatives, developing repeatable legal processes, and then using software to automate those processes, your legal team can be just as effective and efficient at home as they were in the office -- and maybe more.
LinkSquares offers contract drafting and analysis solutions powered by artificial intelligence that can help you automate your legal drudge work and optimize your legal processes -- at home or in the office. If you want to bring simplicity and consistency to your contract drafting and contract analysis processes, contact LinkSquares today.
"Our team can easily and quickly pull reports based on key terms and perform full-text search on any document. This saves us hours of time each week and allows us to focus on more important tasks."
Beau Sylvester Legal Operations at Asurion
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