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How law firms can use lessons learned from email management to adopt Microsoft Teams

Shawn Misquitta

Not so long ago, law firms faced challenges when adopting email— once the exciting new communication tool—including content silos, matter fragmentation across multiple systems, and security concerns.

Today, Microsoft Teams is the hot new application. Research done by Aternity shows that Teams usage increased 3,891% between February and December 2020—a stunning growth that speaks to its value as a collaboration and communication tool for the digital workforce.

It took years to solve the problems with email so that knowledge workers could fully realize its opportunities and productivity gains. Although it's difficult to predict adoption patterns, we can see parallels between Teams and email. Here’s what we learned from the era of email adoption that can help law firms avoid the pitfalls that might arise when implementing a new communication tool:

1. Integrate Microsoft Teams into matter-centric document management 

Today, matter-centric document management enables lawyers to view all the information related to a matter regardless of whether it's in a document or an email. When a lawyer searches for something, they don't need to know if the information is in an email or a document to know where to look for it. They just need to search in their document management system (DMS) to find everything they need. To maintain the productivity benefits of a single source of truth, a similar approach needs to be taken with the communications happening in Microsoft Teams, with Teams conversations managed alongside email and documents.

2. Create clear information policies 

Like email, not everything in Teams may be appropriate for the matter file. Firms need to be clear about what is “work” and needs to be part of the matter file. Guidance should be provided on how Teams should be used, just like with email and other systems. The context of the work will need to define the processes and policies governing it.

3. Keep security and governance at the forefront

Extending a consistent governance and security scheme over this new form of content is essential for any law firms concerned about cybersecurity (which should be everyone!). Microsoft Teams communications should be included under the same policy-based, need-to-know security and governance regime that covers your other documents and communications. Security should still be at the forefront of any type of matter-related communication.  

Better together: Microsoft Teams and iManage work 

Like email before it, Microsoft Teams is a natural extension of content and communications that need to be managed in a matter-centric way, consistent with the firm's policy on governance and security. The importance of integrating documents and email by matter or project was a key innovation for us, and we are taking the same approach to Teams.

Thanks to our enhanced partnership with Microsoft, the iManage app for Teams allows users to file Teams conversations to iManage workspaces. Users can also search for iManage documents in Teams and content from iManage can easily be included in Teams communications. With this integration, lawyers have the best of both worlds: the convenience of Teams with the security and governance of iManage Work.

Learn more about best practices for Teams in our eBook. 

About the author

Shawn Misquitta