Discover what a legal workspace is and how lawyers use it to streamline their workflow in this Juro explainer.
What is a legal workspace?
A legal workspace is a cloud-based system designed to streamline legal matters, documents, and operations.
Legal workspaces make it quick and easy for in-house legal teams and law firms to access the files and information they need without needing to be on-site. Legal workspaces do this by centralizing all of the features, files, and insights they need in one workspace, rather than having them scattered across multiple systems.
But one of the biggest advantages of using a legal workspace is that it empowers legal teams to access legal information from anywhere at any time. This is only possible with cloud and browser-based systems.
What does a legal workspace replace?
Another way to understand what a legal workspace is is to understand what it replaces.
Previously, a legal workspace was comprised of various tools offline. The earliest legal workspace involved hand-drafted files, physical libraries, and filing cabinets. As technology was introduced, lawyers began to use word processors, searchable databases, and storage on desktops.
Today, a legal workspace connects all of the tools lawyers use and stores them in the cloud. The cloud is a way of storing digital data on a network of remote servers on the internet. This means that files and apps can be accessed through your browser, rather than just on personal computers or using local servers.
What does a legal workspace typically include?
Every tool is different, and each offers a different set of features.
Some legal workspace tools incorporate access to all of the Microsoft platforms, along with storage, PDF readers, and more. This type of legal workspace software simply merges tools that teams use in a bid to remove friction.
But other legal workspace platforms offer a whole new set of features that aren’t available in manual workflows. This helps to ensure that the tools aren’t just kept in one place, but also provide a seamless user experience.
Either way, it’s common for a legal workspace to bring together a variety of different tools and features, including those from:
- Contract management software
- Matter management software
- Electronic billing software
- Case management software
- Document automation software
The features you need will depend on the type of tasks you do. That’s why legal workspace solutions for law firms often differ from those used by in-house legal teams.
What are the benefits of using a legal workspace?
Now you know what a legal workspace is and what it can offer legal teams. But what are the advantages of implementing it for your team?
1. Enhanced security
One of the biggest benefits of a cloud-based legal workspace is that the data stored within the workspace is stored securely. This is true for a few reasons, according to Norton, the leading security experts:
- Servers are located in warehouses where worker access is restricted
- The data within the cloud servers are usually encrypted
- It’s possible to back up your data on multiple servers
- Most cloud-based tools offer two-factor authentication
2. Accessible from anywhere at any time
Another benefit of a legal workspace that can be accessed via your browser is that your team can access it from anywhere at any time.
Traditionally, files could only be accessed on the device they were saved on. Cloud-based legal workspaces change this and allow legal teams to access their work from anywhere, which enables them to work more flexibly.
This is becoming increasingly important as more employees are opting to work remotely.
3. No more jumping between tools
Legal workspaces are also popular because they enable legal teams to access all of the features they need without having to jump back and forth between different tools.
When all of these tools are kept separately, there’s a lot of context-switching for lawyers. This context-switching can create unnecessary admin, friction, and delays for busy legal teams. It can also result in the loss of important metadata.
By centralizing all of the features lawyers need, legal workspaces can contribute to a more efficient workflow.
4. More collaborative
Legal workspaces are also more collaborative. This is because they enable teams to work together on tasks in real-time. This isn’t possible when documents are stored offline or as physical copies.
But when legal teams share a legal workspace they’re enabled to work together on live, dynamic files. They’re also able to communicate more effectively on tasks using chat functionality within the platform rather than relying on email chains to make requests and comments.
Do you need a legal workspace?
As we just discussed, there are plenty of benefits of using a legal workspace. But does that mean you need one? Not necessarily.
A legal workspace is a great option for law firms. This is because they use tools like case management and electronic billing software daily. Since law firms use a breadth of different legal software solutions, it makes sense for these to be kept in one environment.
But in-house legal teams don’t need tools like case management software, for example. In fact, most legal workspace features will be wasted on in-house legal teams whose focus is elsewhere.
For most in-house legal teams a simple task tracking tool like Trello or Asana will be good enough for managing legal projects. This is because in-house lawyers and those in law firms naturally have different priorities and tasks.
It’s far more efficient and affordable for in-house teams to invest in software that streamlines a certain legal task they spend a lot of their time on, like contract management.
Which tool is right for you?
As we just mentioned, legal workspaces are a great solution for law firms that want to bring all of their legal operations online and package them up in one platform.
But if you’re an in-house legal team that doesn’t need case management, electronic billing or time-tracking functionality, it’s best to focus on the features you do need. Doing this enables you to save money and find a tool that does what you need it to do really well.
In most businesses, it’s routine contract admin that distracts in-house lawyers from higher-value work. If you’re familiar with this problem, contract management software is a far better option than a legal workspace solution.
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