As we emerge from a global pandemic where working from home for many has become the new normal, smart entrepreneurs must leverage remote work and other technology to manage and scale their businesses.
Twenty years ago, the first dollar of startup revenue was likely not far from Founder Louis Lehot's elite boutique law firm L2 Counsel in Silicon Valley. Since then, startups have globalized - with one co-founder at one end of the world, another at the other, R&D, sales and marketing all over. Technology businesses are inherently global, so they must operate in compliance with multiple jurisdictional statutes, rules, regulations, commercial contracts, licenses and more. Now more than ever, LegalTech tools will play a key role in running legal processes for your business.
Today, legal process points cause frustration for entrepreneurs everywhere - from harvesting and protecting IP rights, to storing and securing customer information, to negotiating and renewing contracts - the potential for human error is big. To alleviate this issue, LegalTech tools can enable safe, secure and private communication, document storage and management, e-signature and cloud-enabled contract management and AI tools.
We sat down with Louis Lehot who has represented hundreds of startups over the last 20 years, to discuss the best LegalTech tools to use for your business. Below is a list of the best LegalTech tools for collaboration, spend management, and contract review, according to Louis Lehot.
The Best LegalTech Tools for Collaboration:
Zoom has become the poster child for video-conferencing lately. With high quality images and audio, virtual backgrounds, audio calling, conference calls, screen sharing and scheduling, startups have flocked to this affordable technology.
"While it has had some security issues, and could be improved to allow for better recording and editing, it remains a piece of resistance for legal communications and collaboration," he said.
Skype has been accelerating enterprise penetration since its acquisition by Microsoft, allowing for free web meetings, video conference and VOIP software. There is also an instant messaging feature, audio and video call features, mobile phones and landline calling, paid international calling, and conference call capabilities for up to 25 people.
Louis Lehot added, "During video sessions, users can share their screen, and other features include background blurring, voice and text translation, location sharing, and conversation searching."
Microsoft Teams combines video conferencing with team collaboration tools, allowing MS Office users to conduct conference calls and share files, as well as join or initiate a group chat. He said, "The shared chat space and ability to break out into smaller groups can enable collaboration tools to share documents."
However, deletion of messages is not enabled, there is no group calendar option, and the permission settings are not user-friendly.
RingCentral is a VOIP solution available in the cloud, featuring video and audio conferencing, desktop phone rentals, collaboration tools and integrations with other apps. According to Louis Lehot, it is known for quality voice and video communication, consistent interface across platforms, good performance, messaging and texting. But, generating reports takes about 24 hours and often contain inaccuracies, group calls are challenging, and there is no forwarding to an external number or group texting features as of this writing.
Google Hangouts provides a communication and extension of the Google collaboration platform to include messaging, voice, VoIP, and video call capabilities. Louis Lehot explained that users can "Hangout" to start a chat or video call, phone call using Wi-Fi or data, send text messages with a Google Voice or Google Fi phone number. "They sync across devices, and you can start a call on one device and switch to another. It's free, can run on almost any platform, easy to set up, with a clean and intuitive interface," added.
Cisco WebEx is a cloud-based phone system optimized for midsized and large enterprises. It presents essential business calling capabilities and removes complexity of managing a phone system infrastructure on premises. According to Louis Lehot, this tool has an easy interface, fast notifications to email, clear connections, easy to add users, mobile use, easy to switch between devices and collaboration with WebEx document sharing teaming. The only problem is that it can take 5-10 minutes to download the local client, so Louis Lehot advises that you make sure your other users have previously installed it.
The Best LegalTech Tools for Spend & Matter Management:
Clio, Practice Panther, Thomson Reuters (Serengeti), and other programs attempt to solve the problem of managing budgets, billing and time management. Clio and PracticePanther are web-based legal practice management software packages, principally for small law firms and solo practitioners, with case management, accounting and document storage functions.
SimpleLegal focuses on modern legal operations management that combines matter management, e-billing and spend management, vendor management, knowledge management and provides business insights through robust reporting and analytics.
"It is best for tracking expenses, creating, analyzing matters, reporting and analytics," he said. "However, some wish that it had the functionalities of QuickBooks and out-of-the-box API integrations."
Acuity Elm is a cloud-based enterprise legal spend management solution, providing business solutions to in-house counsel and legal ops teams of all sizes. Louis Lehot likes that it helps teams reduce spend, increase productivity and improve outcomes and transparency.
"It serves as a communication for clients and counsel to share and organize documents, as well as manage time entry, and it keep track of cases," he explained. "But it is criticized for provoking tension between companies and counsel and being overly complex."
The Best LegalTech Tools for Contract Review:
Contract Companion provides a proofreading tools that leverages AI to ensure documents meet quality standards, automatically identifies and reviews errors in real-time and quickly bacs back to higher-value activities.
He added, "It consistently demonstrates capabilities and work integrity and has time management tools designed to reduce time pressure and complete a precise review that is difficult to achieve manually."
Kira Networks is a machine learning software tools that identifies extracts and analyzes content in contracts and documents with accuracy and efficiency. From increasing efficiency of the contract review process to the flexibility of building and integrating solutions together, according to Louis Lehot, Kira is designed to allow users to easily extract insights from contracts and documents.
Contract Express automates your legal document creation process and ensures your documents are complete and accurate. In Louis Lehot's experience, this tool provides an intuitive markup, compliance and relevancy tool and automates the drafting process for complex legal documents without requiring IT programmers.
ParleyPro is a new contract review and management platform designed to close better contracts faster with smart collaboration. He explained, "It is praised for its ability to enable the legal team's ability to scale its effectiveness, by facilitating effective creation, negotiation, execution and management of all contracts across vendors and partners in one place."
One thing to keep in mind is that while its flexibility is praised, there is still complexity that requires advance planning.
Concord is a contract lifecycle management platform built to work across an organization's many functions. It has a simple design, with an end-to-end solution to make it easier to create, collaborate, negotiate, e-sign and manage agreements.
Louis Lehot shared some advice for entrepreneurs who are in search of a LegalTech tools right now. He said, "LegalTech tools are necessary to automate processes, communicate, collaborate, manage projects, improve accuracy and reduce spending. There is no one legal tech tool that solves everything."
About the Author: Amanda is a Freelance Journalist for a variety of online publications where she covers legal technology, intellectual property, litigation and more. She has been writing about technology, business and law for almost 10 years. Amanda earned a B.A. in Communications: Public Relations and Journalism from Central Connecticut State University. Follow her at @AmandaCicc.
Originally published in Medium.com, July 5, 2020
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.