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Why in-house legal departments are moving from point solutions to leveraging Microsoft 365 for their legal operations

Is your corporate law department under pressure to rein in costs? Perhaps you have too many costly point solutions that create silos. Or maybe you’re struggling to communicate your department’s value in ways that the C-suite can understand.

If you’re facing any of these challenges, you’re certainly not alone. Many in-house law departments have used or are still using disparate point solutions that do not integrate well, and many corporations view their law departments as cost centers.

Your team can address these challenges by leveraging Microsoft 365, a cloud solution you likely already have. By building your legal operations with Microsoft tools and layering other legal-specific, Microsoft-integrated software on top, you can reduce your costs as well as develop reports that more effectively convey your department’s value.

This article elaborates on these and other advantages of using Microsoft 365 as the foundation for your legal technology needs.

Facilitating technology adoption

New technology adoption and change management are common challenges for every organization. Microsoft 365, however, offers a familiar user experience to most lawyers and professionals. As a result, legal software that integrates with Microsoft 365 is far easier to adopt than completely new point solutions.

“Taking on bespoke software products increases the complexity of change management, which decreases the adoption rate,” explains Kevin Bley, Intapp Client Development Director, North America. “In most organizations, Microsoft 365 is the most widely accepted product suite. So, it just makes sense to leverage what your staff are already using every day.”

Alex Herrity, Director of Legal Solutions at Adidas, echoes this perspective: “By building on top of Microsoft 365, we’re saying to people, ‘You don’t need to learn the interface of a totally new system. We can deliver some powerful results to you directly from an interface that you’re already familiar with.’”

Choosing an unfamiliar platform, on the other hand, risks a failed technology implementation, an outcome that 77% of in-house counsel have experienced.

Achieving interoperability

Law departments want software that is interoperable, particularly with Microsoft 365. At Adidas, whenever a technology vendor presents a potential software for the law department, “the first thing everyone wants to know is whether it integrates with Microsoft Word,” says Herrity.

“Something like Intapp Documents, which sits on top of the Microsoft platform, allows us to move and change with the business in a quick and affordable way,” adds Herrity.

Enabling creation of client self-help tools

Corporate law departments can also use Microsoft 365 to create business self-help tools for the company, such as user-friendly dashboards for common requests.

“Law departments can create, in essence, a legal storefront — a place where company employees can get the information they need without involving the lawyers,” says Bley. “It might be the employee just needs to look at a policy, or maybe they need a nondisclosure agreement (NDA). The employee enters information, and the system generates a customized NDA. In other words, your staff can self-serve these routine requests.”

Conveying the value of the law department

When trying to communicate their value, law departments often struggle because they are not communicating in the same language as other departments — namely, the language of quantitative data and metrics.

But with Microsoft Power BI and other Microsoft tools, you can capture, report, and visually present data. “As a result, when your general counsel is going into meetings with their contemporaries, they have reports that look and feel like the rest of the business,” explains Jeff Ikejiri, a Principal in KPMG’s U.S. Legal Operations Transformation Services practice.

Enabling automations that replace tedious manual processes

Your staff in the legal department can also use Microsoft 365 to create automations for routine tasks, such as registering gifts.

“Like many corporations, Adidas has a process for registering gifts that we give or receive,” says Herrity. “I built our gift registry in one day using only Microsoft Forms, SharePoint, and a bit of Power Automate in the background. Our company uses this automation dozens of times every single day, and it notifies the correct compliance officer when a request has come through, as well as notifies the requestor about updates.”

Law departments can also create automations around requests, with automatic replies sent to requestors and tasks automatically created for the legal team. Such automations reassure requestors that their emails haven’t gotten lost.

Improving internal and external collaboration

With Microsoft 365, law departments can also collaborate more easily both internally and externally. Whether the need is sharing information internally with other departments or members of the legal team, or providing documents to outside counsel, Intapp and Microsoft make it secure and simple to accomplish.

“Microsoft 365 has enabled us to more effectively collaborate with our internal key stakeholders as well as with outside counsel,” says Denise McPoyle, Legal Manager at Novo Nordisk. “We’ve set up teams and permissions to share data and files and collaborate on them in real time.”

Serving as central repository of information and improving efficiency

By using Microsoft 365 with Intapp Documents for Corporate Legal, all emails and information relating to a matter can be organized within the team for that matter.

“We needed to centralize our data, and Intapp Documents for Corporate Legal was the best solution for us because it plugs right into Microsoft 365,” says McPoyle.

The combination of Microsoft 365 and Intapp also helped Novo Nordisk lawyers operate more efficiently. “Our lawyers were complaining about how long it took for them to find information,” explains McPoyle. “But once we implemented Intapp, I was able to structure our data for how people operate, whether within their Microsoft Teams or Outlook environment. That gave our staff their time back to do what they do best — advise on the law — instead of spending all that time looking for stuff.”

Likewise, the ability to co-author — or simultaneously work on — documents, spreadsheets, and presentations within Microsoft 365 increases efficiency. Co-authoring also avoids the risk that your lawyers will work on or share the wrong version of a critical document
“Co-authoring alleviates a lot of the version control challenges that occur if people are emailing documents back and forth,” says Ikejiri. “You can also create automated workflows in the background, so if a linear approach is needed, you can, for example, notify people that need to review or provide inputs on a document.”

Your law department can save additional time by relying on Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Lists to assign and track tasks instead of having to write emails and make calls to manage projects. Likewise, teams can efficiently obtain feedback or approval via surveys created in Microsoft Forms.

Offering an extensive knowledge base and how-to resources as well as significant cloud storage

Two additional advantages of Microsoft 365 are sometimes overlooked but significantly contribute to a positive user experience.

First, Microsoft 365 provides extensive online training and support resources compared to niche, standalone products. Many third parties have also created how-to videos and other resources to share tips and tricks for accomplishing various functions with Microsoft tools.

Second, a Microsoft 365 standard business subscription provides 1 TB of secure cloud storage per user. This greatly reduces the storage cost associated with filing information with many legal document management providers.

Maximizing your Microsoft investment with Intapp

Another reason Microsoft 365 is an ideal platform upon which to build your legal operations is Microsoft’s partnership with Intapp, which focuses on the needs of in-house legal departments. With the Intapp Documents for Corporate Legal solution suite, you can optimize Microsoft 365 for the way your legal team works, achieve enhanced document management, and transform operations with secure, personalized external collaboration. Thanks to the partnership between Intapp and Microsoft, hundreds of other legal departments are improving information management, reducing costs, and increasing productivity by leveraging what their company has already purchased.

If you’d like to see firsthand how the Intapp Documents for Corporate Legal optimizes Microsoft 365 for the legal industry, please schedule a demo .

You can also learn more about how legal operations and in-house legal teams are leveraging Microsoft 365 for matter lifecycle management by listening to our recent webinar.

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