Articles
November 5, 2019

The modern paralegals role in information governance

Whether in-house in a corporate legal department, or working alongside lawyers in a practice, the paralegal is an indispensable part of the legal system. We provide essential support to attorneys, law offices, government agencies and corporations, performing tasks such as researching legal precedents, investigating case work, and preparing legal documents.

It’s that latter role - preparing legal documents - that we want to focus on here, because arguably the in-house paralegal is the glue that holds not just the legal department together, but the whole legal structure of a company. These paralegals and legal operations staff have the important role of keeping things moving, or getting the right information and the right documents to the right people at the right time to ensure continued compliance across legal structures.

The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) says the paralegal is someone who performs “substantive legal work” - that means “work requiring recognition, evaluation, organization, analysis and communication of relevant facts and legal concepts”. This means paralegals need to both work across departments and break down silos to help keep legal structures and associated entities in good standing wherever they’re located. 

But that can be easier said than done. The corporate world is full of silos, especially when you start talking about international businesses with operations in multiple locations around the world. And while the regulatory environment is increasingly demanding transparency across the board, the way each individual jurisdiction enacts those regulations is nuanced. 

That means the paralegal has a tough job to keep on top of requirements, ensure the right people are brought in at the right time, and get the right documents and entity data filed in the right places to keep auditors and regulators happy.

Information governance in legal structures

Consider now that the paralegal and other legal operations professionals are among the busiest and most in-demand members of any corporate team. They are not only required to keep the compliance clock ticking, but they’re also asked to pull documents, check statuses, run reports, and more, every single day by multiple different teams and departments.

With this pull on their time, it’s no wonder that the paralegal can end up being quite reactionary, with very little time to be more proactive about their work. Which is why information governance becomes important when maintaining compliance for legal structures. 

Information governance is the term used to describe the way an organization uses and stores information. It can refer to the framework of processes and procedures involved in the in-house governance, risk and compliance (GRC) practice, but it is certainly more than just the maintenance of essential documentation.  

The paralegal must harness this information governance to ensure the right information gets to the right people at the right time to maintain compliance. Regulatory compliance involves a whole lot of running reports, auditing information and getting signatures on paper. By maintaining a robust information governance practice across legal structures, paralegals can not only get the right information to the right people, but can also help to reduce risk, improve compliance and enable better collaboration between departments - the proverbial breaking down of the silos.

However, the problem with entity data, as with any data, is that it never stands still. It’s here that data lineage becomes critical to digital transformation, business decisions and regulatory compliance. How a company handles its data, how it ensures the right information gets to the right people at the right time, is essential to its GRC success.

Data is not static: Legal tech supports more efficient paralegal operations

The compliance landscape is getting increasingly complex, and increasingly global. Only by harnessing legal tech and automation can the paralegal of the future truly stay on top of compliance requirements while keeping the corporate’s head above regulatory waters. 

The paralegal and legal operations team that knows how to make the most of 21st century legal technology is a team that is efficient, flexible and able to think proactively rather than reactively. Entity management software can help to get the right information to the right people at the right time by automating workflows, sending notifications and establishing dashboards that highlight status at a glance.

This automation can come in many forms. Athennian’s document assembly engine, for example, supports the paralegal’s essential work by generating any corporate or tax document to a signature-ready state in one click, saving paralegals the time and energy taken by starting from scratch. This document can then be electronically sent to signatories for sign-off, and then filed or stored with the appropriate parties and systems.

That’s just one way in which the cloud-based Athennian subsidiary management platform has been built to make tracking legal structures less of a burden. It helps ensure you never miss a filing deadline, making it easy to track thousands of filing and compliance events across entities and jurisdictions with automated reminders, email notifications, data reports and more. Automate any corporate document, form or certificate in a single-click using the data you’ve already stored, and manage your templates from one source of truth. 

Discover how we can help your team be more efficient and take back control over compliance for legal structures; book a demo to see how the Athennian subsidiary management platform can help paralegals to get the right information to the right people at the right time for compliance.

About Athennian

Athennian.com is the top reviewed legal entity management cloud platform for law firms and in-house corporate teams. Athennian is used by innovative organizations that value modern software with elegant automation and workflows. Integrating entity data management, document assembly, eSign, org charts, and e-file, Athennian is selected by leading law firms and corporate legal and tax teams to scale legal entity governance. Athennian offers rapid migration services for customers from any legacy database including ALF, CorpLink, EnAct, GlobalAct, EnGlobe, FastCompany, Corporate Focus, Blueprint (Diligent Entities), GEMS, hCue, Effacts and more.

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Associate, Momentum Business Law
(5 star review on October 28, 2019)