Microsoft Teams for Legal Professionals

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What Is Teams?

Teams is an application that makes communication and collaboration easier, no matter where your team members are located. It is designed to move internal communication out of email. Communication in Teams can be more transparent and better organized—making internal communication easier.

When to Use Teams

Microsoft Teams is a great application, but it isn’t right for every situation. Knowing when to use Teams and when not to use it is step one. Whether Teams is the right application for a particular situation depends on what other software your organization has implemented.

Teams or Document Management System?

If your organization uses a document management system to store its documents, using Teams’ file storage capabilities can cause issues—forcing people to have two places to look for a document. If your document management system integrates with Teams (such as NetDocuments’ ChatLink), that is a great solution. If not, keep your documents in your document management system rather than Teams.

Teams or Practice Management System?

If your organization uses a practice management system to store information related to matters, be careful using Teams for matter-related collaboration. The practice management system must remain the “source of truth” as to all things related to matters. You don’t want people to have to check both Teams and your practice management system for matter-specific information. This is especially true concerning conflict checking and other ethics-adjacent issues.

Intranet

If your organization doesn’t already have an intranet, Microsoft Teams can serve that role. An intranet built in Teams won’t look and feel like a typical web-based intranet, but it can deliver the same information to everyone in your organization.

Internal Projects and Teams

Teams is a great place to communicate about internal projects and processes. For example, a client intake team may use it to communicate with each other about the process or discuss improvements to be made.

Teams Vs. SharePoint Vs. OneDrive

SharePoint is the backbone of both Teams and OneDrive. All documents saved in Teams or OneDrive are stored in SharePoint. A SharePoint site is automatically created for every Team and Channel created in Teams.

OneDrive allows you to store files in SharePoint while syncing them locally to your computer for easy access from File Explorer.

The good news is that you don’t have to understand SharePoint to use Teams or to be able to access files stored in Teams from OneDrive.

Planning Your Teams Rollout

A word of warning: your Teams rollout needs to be planned carefully. Err on the side of caution. It is easy to inadvertently end up with mess that is hard to undo.

Permissions

Teams gives administrators a lot of granular controls when it comes to individuals’ permissions. Start by giving people very limited permissions. You can always change permissions down the road. People, however, are less likely to complain about getting new permission than they are about permissions being taken away.

Apps and Tabs

Microsoft and non-Microsoft developers can write apps for Teams just as they would for the iPhone or a plugin to Outlook. Developers are creating new apps all the time. Most require a third-party license. Even if you already have a license with that vendor, be careful about deploying the integration without testing it first. Some of the apps work how you’d expect, but others do not.

Teams and Channels

Limit who can create new teams and who can create new channels within each team. Before your rollout, create a team or two. If rolling out Teams to one department first, create a team for them with one or two channels. As they start using it, you can add more channels. If rolling out Teams organization-wide, consider creating a team for the whole organization for announcements and a team for each formal department.

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