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The role of technology in enabling remote working for legal

9 Aug 2021

by Angus Chudleigh

Learn how ThoughtRiver’s cloud-based, collaborative platform is purpose-built for flexible working.

Remote working is here to stay

COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it in a number of ways, one of which is where we all work. Studies show that the amount of home workers doubled in 2020 in comparison with 2019, as new legislation around social distancing forced many to work from home.

What was originally seen as a temporary move to combat the pandemic has become a permanent option. As we continue to adapt and look to establish a new normal, remote working is being embraced by all manner of industries. Businesses such as Microsoft, Spotify, Twitter, and Amazon are actively creating remote-working opportunities.

What we are witnessing is the coming together of two separate movements.

  1. Firstly, there is the need. At the time of writing, all efforts are being made to re-open as much as possible and return to pre-pandemic normality. However, this is tempered by the fact that:

    a. Some colleagues, such as those with weakened immune systems, may remain at risk and will still need to work remotely for health reasons.

    b. Some have become accustomed to remote working. They have established new routines and enjoy spending more time with family and less time commuting through the rush-hour traffic. From a quality of life perspective, they do not want to return to work full time.

    Both of these factors mean that businesses are more inclined to show flexibility and understanding. After all, a happy workforce delivers the best results.
  2. Secondly, there is the capability. Even in relatively recent times, remote working was complex and security was a concern. Logging in every morning involved convoluted VPNs and sign-ins. Files would be downloaded from an on-premise drive the day before home working began, and would need to be uploaded upon return to the office. As a result files were worked on offline, which meant real-time collaboration and access was impossible. Security superseded the user experience.

However, the cloud has changed everything. Real-time data access is fast and secure, from any connected device and from anywhere in the world. With the right solution it is easy to work from any location.

Where we work is changing how we work – although it could just as easily be argued that how we work is directly influencing where it is possible to work.

What does this mean for in-house legal?

We have recently talked about not letting a good crisis go to waste, and how GCs should use an emergency to make the business case for legal tech.

There have been fewer bigger crises in recent times than the COVID-19 pandemic. More than ever, technology has become a critical factor in how in-house legal teams will operate going forward.

Let’s look at how legal tech can help you to not just deliver business as normal, but actually take proactive steps to improve how legal works, relieve a lot of stress, and deliver greater value to the business.

ThoughtRiver benefits for your legal team

- Access from any connected device

Our Contract Acceleration Platform is a cloud-based SaaS solution, which means it works wherever you and your connected device are. All you need to do is sign in to ThoughtRiver and upload your contracts, and you can conduct contract reviews and data exploration whether you’re in the office, on the sofa, or in a holiday home. Your desk is wherever you want it to be.

- All the files you need in one online place

As part of the initial contract review, ThoughtRiver creates and stores a digital asset of each contract. Therefore there is no need for boxes of physical files and paperwork. All the historical and signed contracts you need are stored safely on ThoughtRiver and available on demand whenever you need them.

That means that should there be a change in external circumstances resulting in a need to check your obligations, there is no scramble to locate, transport, and manually review each paper contract. Everything is in front of you with just a few clicks, and in a format that’s fast and easy to interrogate. In fact, contract reviews can take place without you ever leaving Microsoft Word, as our plugin works behind the scenes to review and redline contracts without you needing to switch from one application to another. It’s fast, safe, and convenient.

- Strict security

We know you are not data security experts, so we will not bore you with the technical specifications of our security protocols. All you need to know is that all contractual data is encrypted in transit and at rest, and strict security procedures are in place to ensure compliance and privacy is never compromised.

- Collaborate with all stakeholders

A lingering question mark over the suitability of remote working is whether a dispersed workforce can effectively communicate and collaborate. Businesses are investing heavily in this area, with the number of SMBs planning to implement Microsoft Teams over the next two years increasing by a huge 103%.

ThoughtRiver is designed to be a collaborative tool, allowing you to share and liaise on issues with colleagues, manage negotiations with an intuitive dashboard, and ensure you get to signature faster.

ThoughtRiver benefits for your wider business

We know that as a member of an in-house legal team, you are there to serve the business. So let us look at some of the wider benefits of ThoughtRiver to your colleagues in other departments.

- It is not just ‘business as normal’. It is ‘business as better’, as legal tech allows your colleagues to receive excellent, timely service from your legal team. In practice that means contracts are reviewed faster, the momentum of each deal is maintained, and all stakeholders are clear on the status of negotiations. The twin pillars of speed and transparency, historically sources of friction between legal and the wider business, are now ways of delivering value.

- As a collaborative tool, ThoughtRiver delivers a single point of truth, and enables the business to share and work with that same view. Legal is no longer seen as a black hole where contracts disappear for weeks or months on end.

- ThoughtRiver is trained to conduct initial contract reviews and identify risk just as your lawyers would. This means that non-legal colleagues can undertake first pass contract reviews using ThoughtRiver, as AI will flag risk according to your digitised risk playbook in combination with an understanding of how your lawyers have historically approached risk. You can assign the work without assigning the risk, as ThoughtRiver will surface any risk for review by a human lawyer.

Overcoming remote working fears

Of course, ThoughtRiver’s origins date back to several years before COVID-19, but our platform could have been designed today to address flexible working concerns.

With ThoughtRiver, speed, accuracy, consistency, and collaboration are all improved. These measurable benefits are game-changers whether you are working in the office or remotely, and whether you are part of the legal team or an internal client.

As businesses look to invest heavily in unified communications systems, the collaborative tool you really need may be right under your nose already.

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