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The rise and rise of Microsoft Teams

It’s not a surprise to see the results from a recent ILTA survey showing the number of law firms currently using or planning to implement Microsoft Teams has leapt from 4% in 2020 to 42%. In fact, there are now over 270 million monthly active users across the globe – across all industries. 

Although the popularity of Microsoft Teams rose initially out of its use for video calls and online chat during the pandemic, firms are now realising its wider capabilities as it becomes the go-to digital workplace. 

Why is Microsoft Teams becoming so popular amongst firms? 

Panoram works with a number of law firms and corporate legal departments who are investing in Microsoft Teams. Here are our views as to ‘why’: 

The Modern Workplace 

It’s clear to see hybrid working is here to stay. For the typical knowledge-worker, the physical office is no longer the only hub to perform their work, meet with others and collaborate. Microsoft Teams is fast becoming this new or ‘modern workplace’ – where you can work together with your colleagues, customers and suppliers – securely, from anywhere and on any device. And since most organisations are adopting a Microsoft strategy, there are no barriers to rapid adoption when it comes to collaborating outside of the organisation in an environment we are all used to. 

Do More with Less 

With the explosion of legaltech software on offer, law firms and legal departments have found they were adopting multiple technologies with overlapping or adjacent capabilities. Many of these technologies were siloed, focused on solving single issues (e.g. document drafting) and didn’t connect workflows across the organisation. This was putting pressure on end user adoption (lawyers don’t typically have time to learn new technologies or adopt multiple technologies within a single workflow) and on IT departments to implement and manage these solutions. As a result, most firms were struggling to demonstrate a positive return on investment (ROI) for their technology investments. 

Firms are now discovering the vast out-of-the-box application functionality that comes as standard with an M365 licence and can be surfaced through Microsoft Teams. These applications are designed to work together in end-to-end workflows, require no customised integrations, are highly intuitive and protect the customer’s data sovereignty at all times (you don’t store your data in someone else’s cloud). The subscriber also benefits from the huge ecosystem of skilled engineers and support resources rather than the few experts provided by the average legaltech software company.  

Data Governance 

Knowing where all Microsoft Teams data is stored including communications, file sharing, wiki data etc. is hugely beneficial for any corporation’s future data governance requirements, enabling them to more easily control what data can be retained and for how long. Microsoft’s Security and Compliance Center allows for risk management, data security and even eDiscovery to enable organisations to better manage these data and information security needs. 

Legal Plug-In’s 

A few technology providers are creating powerful integrations with Microsoft Teams to further enhance its capabilities for the legal industry. For example, Intapp One Place for Legal can be used to extend Microsoft’s SharePoint document management and collaboration capabilities for matter management. These providers are seeing accelerated growth at the expense of custom applications that reside in their own cloud environments.  

So what will the future hold? 

Corporate Legal Departments adopting the trend 

As law firms move towards the ‘Microsoft First’ IT strategy, corporate legal departments are beginning to follow as they begin to discover Microsoft’s full potential around collaboration, knowledge sharing and matter execution. 

Increased Integrations 

We’ll start to see more legal technology providers offer integrations and capabilities built inside of Microsoft Teams. A streamlined interface of legal functionality inside of Teams will become a game-changer for today’s modern workplace to empower hybrid collaboration. 

Enhanced Microsoft capabilities 

We’re expecting to see continuous enhancements to out-of-the-box Microsoft functionality to attract even more users. We’ve already seen the introduction of the Teams Export API to allow organisations to support Enterprise Information Archiving for Teams to solve retention, indexing, eDiscovery, classification, and regulatory requirements. You can also now sign documents in real-time straight from Microsoft Teams. We’re excited to see Microsoft’s modern workplace evolve in the near future. 

Although most law firms and legal departments have access to this rich functionality, some are yet to discover its full potential for legal automation and wider digital transformation. Panoram are independent consultants who bridge the gap between Legal Sector’s needs and digital technologies such as Microsoft. They are seeking to help the legal industry understand the power of the platform. Get in touch if you want to understand how you can get more from your Microsoft investment.