When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, firm leaders realized they needed to rethink the ways their professionals collaborated — both with their teams and their clients. Firms began adopting remote-work policies and rolling out remote work tools such as Microsoft Teams and Microsoft SharePoint. As firms begin their return to in-person and hybrid environments, they continue to seek ways to leverage their existing Microsoft 365 investments — especially when it comes to modernizing their legal DMS.
“Many firms find themselves at a crucial pivot point,” explained Leigh Smith, Principal Consultant for Intapp Collaboration & Content at Intapp. “Do you continue to invest in a host of point solutions and niche vendors, or do you pivot toward Microsoft and leverage the extensive capabilities of the Microsoft 365 platform?”
During a recent Intapp Documents product briefing, “Delivering Your Legal DMS on Microsoft 365,” Intapp experts explored the benefits and challenges of using SharePoint relative to other DMS providers. Although SharePoint offers many key benefits — including robust security, enterprise-grade document sharing, and real-time coauthoring — the default solution lacks legal-specific capabilities. It can’t create, track, or manage matter-related data without compromising functionality, security, or user experience.
According to Smith, law firms need to keep two specific challenges in mind when considering Microsoft SharePoint as a DMS. “The first is time-to-value,” Smith said. “If you’re configuring SharePoint from scratch to deliver a deployment-ready approach of an industry-specific DMS, it’s going to cost significant time and effort.”
Smith continued: “The second challenge is the fee earner experience. Fee earners live and breathe in Microsoft Outlook. If you’re going to ensure full adoption of SharePoint, you must let your users continue with their preferred user experiences with minimal context switching. This is where out-of-the-box SharePoint falls short.”
Bridging the Microsoft SharePoint gap with Intapp Documents
Firms that want to use Microsoft SharePoint as a legal DMS need additional tools to support integration, promote user accessibility, and meet the unique needs of the legal industry.
“Investing in Microsoft 365 and using tech products to exploit and accelerate the firm’s [Microsoft] adoption is a proven strategy,” Smith said. He then shared how Adams & Adams, a leading African law firm, successfully optimized Microsoft SharePoint as its DMS — and seamlessly integrated Microsoft Teams and Office 365 — by using Intapp Documents.
Intapp Documents, part of the Intapp Collaboration & Content suite, helps firms modernize their legal DMS with matter-centric document management and email filing capabilities built on Microsoft 365.
“Intapp Documents works as an application layer on top of your own Microsoft 365 tenant,” explained Smith. “It uses sophisticated automation and deep integration with existing apps to deliver legal DMS user experience that meets the needs of fee earners and the wider firm.”
Intapp Documents offers:
- Matter templating and workspace configuration
- Matter-centric document and email management
- Internal and external collaboration features
- Document automation and workflow
- Microsoft Teams integration
- Offline and mobile working functionality
- Reporting and analytics
- Legal app integration
Intapp also ensures that firms receive all the support they need when implementing Intapp Documents. “We work with a number of specialized migration partners. They’ve developed tools and approaches to help expedite the process, ensure integrity in the migration, and provide support-phased implementations,” Smith shared. “This includes safely migrating millions of documents and terabytes of data to SharePoint.”
Promoting integration and collaboration
One of the many benefits of Intapp Documents is that it’s designed to be user friendly and easy to adopt. Colin Truesdale, Global Head of Presales for Intapp Collaboration & Content at Intapp, demonstrated Intapp Documents during the briefing to show how well the software integrates with current solutions that firms’ fee earners already use.
Truesdale began by logging into Microsoft Outlook and highlighting an Intapp Documents pane. This section lets fee earners review documents, emails, and other key information sorted by client — all within the familiar Microsoft Outlook interface. During the demo, Truesdale revealed that these client-level folders actually reside in SharePoint and sync with Outlook thanks to Intapp Documents.
“People can collaborate on the same content in customized user experiences, with synchronization and interoperability all built in,” Smith said of Intapp Documents.
“Our aim is to stay out of users’ way,” Truesdale explained. “We help them to do good document management, but provide a very familiar experience. The more familiar the experience, the higher the adoption rate.”
Another key benefit of Intapp Documents is that firms maintain more control over access and permissions. Leaders can determine, for example, which team members should access which matters. Smith also pointed out: “Firms can leverage their existing investment in Microsoft and transition to a cloud model while remaining in control of their data. That’s because we do not store data outside of your own Microsoft 365 tenant.”
Learn how your firm can successfully transition your legal DMS to the Microsoft cloud: Download the full recording of the Intapp Documents product briefing.