DEG Teams Talk – January 2023

Event write up by Joanne Humber, committee member.

This online Teams roundtable meeting, led by Richard MacDougal, Sherry Kappel, Tracy Kraft, and Pat Mansuy, certainly proved popular and opened up everyone’s eyes to both the possibilities and the pitfalls of this software!

Teams was actually launched in 2017, but it wasn’t until 2019 followed by the beginning of Covid lockdowns the following year, that it really began to be used in earnest by law firms.

There appear to be a range of different approaches to working with Teams – naturally dictated to some degree by whether it is hosted in the cloud or on prem. Some of the first topics we discussed were the issues around governance, data retention, security and integration – all critical areas which seem to be addressed by firms in different ways.

Retention policies for recordings and chat varied widely from 3 days for chat in one case to 30 days for recordings in another. Inevitably the way that files are stored is important as in most cases firms have a DMS which remains the main repository for client/matter documents, and which needs to remain so. Checking documents in and out of the DMS even when working with them in Teams is important, particularly in view of the need for version control.

Some of the issues around document sharing were discussed – and it is clear that there are still a lot of challenges. When shared internally co-authoring is valuable but there is obviously some reluctance about external sharing of documents, although providing guest access is possible. It was noted that problems can arise when a variety of different devices are used.
There are some great advantages when using Teams for training, although it is recommended to keep things simple to start with. Generally, it seems to work best when groups are not mixed (e.g. in person and remote) although some have managed to achieve good results.

It was suggested that setting up a “champion community” who regularly monitor changes can assist with supporting others, because new features are introduced without notice and can cause confusion.
One or two new features were highlighted – send delay for messages, the activity panel can be filtered by Unread, the calendar opens full screen but can now pop out.

Chat and Q&A features were explored and the former is more like a discussion, while Q&A allows for multiple responses. Using Teams for social notifications was thought to be a great idea if suitable for your firm.

Joanne Humber
Legal Technology Skills Consultant
Humber Associates