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Establishing a Culture of Collaboration within Your Legal Team

by Everlaw

Two people collaborating together at a desk

What separates a great collaborative environment from a mediocre one? MIT professor Michael Schrage argues that successful collaborators don’t just work with each other; they work together through a shared space, whether physical or virtual. If there’s no shared space, there’s no opportunity for collaboration within your legal team.

Keys to Creating a Modern Shared Space

The right technology can provide a shared space for the legal industry as professionals navigate the new reality of remote work, but the benefits extend far beyond that. With the right shared space, customarily reactive legal processes like discovery can become proactive, as folks on the same team work more closely together, and feedback loops tighten.

Below are five key components of a modern shared space for collaboration:

1. Speed

Business and life move faster than ever, and as a result, communication has to keep up. A true shared space must allow for rapid discussion that diminishes the wait time between responses. This goes for both real-time collaboration on work products using web-based productivity software, as well as mail and messages with communication tools.

2. Efficiency

A good shared space reduces friction by ensuring that stakeholders always have immediate access to a project. An example of high friction is having to execute multiple steps, like exporting and attaching a document, before even sending it to a recipient. Low friction, convenient collaboration is working together in the same document simultaneously to decrease the need for back and forth communication.

3. Security

Security is essential, especially in the legal industry. With the rise in hacks and exploits, participants need to feel comfortable that collaborative shared spaces are secure. Increasing efficiency also increases security — a multi-step process is more susceptible to unwanted access than work in one collaborative document.

4. Breadth

If the opportunities for collaboration are too narrow, the shared space isn’t really a space; it’s a lane or a channel. An ediscovery platform, for example, is a major step forward toward accessibility to all work products and workflows. When someone wants to share a keyword search, timeline, or a draft of a motion, it is more efficient if done in a true shared space.

5. Inclusivity

It’s essential in shared spaces to be able to control who can and can’t enter the space. In the security world, this is called “access control,” which means that only people who receive access to specific documents can see and review them. While security is necessary, there is a more expansive way to think about it, too. In a true shared space, people are using combined knowledge to do their jobs better and help others do the same as well. This is not a violation of document access rules; this is just an inversion of the normal “need to know” paradigm common in law. The best shared spaces are inclusive; they allow teams to use all the appropriate information to work better together.

Imagine a document reviewer — a JD, with domain expertise and thousands of reviewed documents under their belt — being able to understand an overall case strategy and adjusting their review analysis to match. Or imagine an in-house and outside counsel collaborating together on a single timeline instead of duplicating each other’s work. A great shared space can provide all of this. Teams that work toward inclusivity rather than exclusivity will have a shared mission and be more agile and effective.

With lawyers forced to work from home during COVID-19, online collaboration is more critical and transformational than ever. If we can enable swift collaboration in complex legal matters, then we will ultimately be upholding a key pillar of democracy and contributing toward a more just society.

Are you interested in learning how to improve collaboration within your legal team? Download “How Collaboration Will Aid Legal Professionals in a Post-Pandemic World” to find out.