Microsoft Teams is a powerful collaboration tool that can help accelerate digital transformation for all legal organizations. This article will explore the basics of Microsoft Teams and provide some possible use cases for Microsoft Teams for in-house legal departments, law firms, and other legal organizations.
Microsoft Teams makes teamwork easy and it is a complete chat and online meetings solution that was launched by Microsoft on a worldwide basis in March 2017. It is integrated with Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud solution and you can have anywhere and anytime access to Microsoft Teams via its desktop and mobile applications. Microsoft recently announced that Microsoft Teams is the fastest growing business application in Microsoft’s history as Teams is used by 329,000 organizations and 87 Fortune 100 companies. Microsoft Teams is also a global tool that supports 44 different languages.
While Microsoft Teams is a collaboration powerhouse and an alternative to traditional email, it is also very appealing for all legal organizations as it is built on the Microsoft Office 365 hyper-scale, enterprise-grade cloud solution and delivers the advanced security and compliance capabilities that law firms and in-house legal groups expect. For example, Microsoft Teams complies with many key compliance standards such as the following: ISO 27001, ISO 27018, SSAE16, SOC 1, and SOC 2. The platform also enforces team-wide and organization-wide two-factor authentication, single sign-on through Microsoft Active Directory, and encryption of data in transit and at rest.
Microsoft Teams is extremely easy and intuitive to use. In fact, I’ve created several teams with my Microsoft legal colleagues and business clients to help foster rich collaboration. With just a few clicks you can create a new team in Microsoft Teams by developing a team name, a description of the team and designating whether it is a public team (which anyone in your organization can join) or a private team (where you designate and control which individuals can join). Specific channels (which are like folders/tabs) on various subject matter areas can also be added to your team to help improve the organization of the information that is added to a team.
Once a new team is created, people who are members of that team can start posting and adding information to that team. The beauty of Microsoft Teams is that the information that is added to a team—whether it be messages, emails, videos, Word documents, information in OneNotes, PowerPoint slides, etc.—can be viewed by all members of that team, such information is stored in a repository-like fashion for future reference, team members can work together on edits/updates to such information while in Microsoft Teams and it is highly searchable. Such level of information transparency and access coupled with the many strong product features of Microsoft Teams can enable lawyers and legal professionals to be more productive and to engage in thoughtful ideation —regardless of where they are located.
Here are some use cases for Microsoft Teams to help legal organizations achieve more.
A Team for your Immediate Team
Consider establishing a team within Microsoft Teams to help ignite collaboration within the primary group that you are part of in your legal organization. For instance, as a member of Microsoft’s Corporate, External & Legal Affairs team, I am part of Microsoft’s legal field team that provides legal support to our sales organization across the United States. Our legal field team – which consists of 40+ lawyers and legal professionals scattered across the United States—has a Teams site that has served as our central hub for knowledge-sharing and we have several different channels incorporated into our Teams site. If you work at a law firm you can develop a Teams site for your specific legal practice group or perhaps sites that may be applicable to the law firm’s partners or associates in order to convey and exchange information with those specific stakeholders.
Cross Group Teams
Often, lawyers and legal professionals need to effectively partner with their colleagues who are not part of their immediate teams. For example, I need to work closely with my Microsoft legal teammates who are based in our corporate headquarters in Redmond, Washington, and colleagues who are in other parts of the world. Microsoft Teams is an excellent tool to help promote knowledge sharing among a cross-group team of lawyers and legal professionals within a legal organization.
Subject Matter Teams
There are also opportunities to create teams based on topical areas that are important to your legal organization. Those topical areas could be specific legal subject-matter areas (e.g., data privacy, employment law, intellectual property) to organizational specific (e.g., internal job opportunities, training, key internal points of contact) to other top of mind areas (e.g., diversity and inclusion, technology tools).
Teams with Your Business Clients
Developing a team with your primary business clients is a great way to build a trusted legal advisor relationship with them and to promote a better flow of significant information. You can use Microsoft Teams to seamlessly share knowledge with them, provide legal training on important areas and hopefully enable them to engage in more “self-help” on routine and repetitive legal matters in order to free up time for you and your legal organization to provide higher impact legal services.
Teams for Projects
Microsoft Teams is an excellent tool to use when you are engaged in special projects, initiatives or committees within your organization. I collaborate with several Microsoft legal teammates across our various different practice groups on such activities and we have created specific team sites for those activities which enables us to readily share, capture and create content in a modern collaboration format so that we can drive more positive impact for our business clients.
Teams for Events
Microsoft Teams is also ideal to use to share important information when your legal organization convenes key meetings or events. A specific teams site allows you to share and store the agenda, meeting notes, memos, next steps, etc…so that you can have more meaningful meetings and events.
Teams with Guests
Guest access is also available in Microsoft Teams to allows members of your organization to collaborate with people outside your organization by granting them access to teams and channels. This feature is terrific to enable deeper collaboration between in-house legal groups and their outside counsel law firms. Such team sites have a clear “This team has guests” designation near the name of the team site.
While this article is not meant to cover the breadth and depth of all of the capabilities of Microsoft Teams and possible use cases, hopefully, it provides you with some perspective on ways to embrace Microsoft Teams within your legal organization. Consider downloading today the free version of Microsoft Teams that is available worldwide in 40 languages so that you can begin using this modern collaboration tool to help you and your legal organization achieve more.