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Lower Costs and More Effective Management: How Legal Entity Management Software Solves These Issues

Technology and the Elimination of Distractions Modern life – and business - is full of distractions for professionals, and lawyers are no different. Legal professionals are often overwhelmed by all the numerous tasks that must be completed each day, and this impedes effective task management, hinders the completion of real work, and reduces firm productivity. There are numerous obstacles to overcoming this problem: a lack of planning, the ineffective management of both tasks and time, distractions from phones and emails which, whilst crucial for client communication, also hamper productivity, and, to put it succinctly, the poor prioritization of projects. A haphazard approach spells failure for the intensive focus that is required to successfully complete client work and, importantly, reduces overwhelm and improves productivity – and profits.Legal entity management software offers law firms a powerful solution and the benefits of using a third-party platform stem from its user-friendly features and wide range of customization possibilities. Here at Athennian, we are familiar with the difficulties that law firms have encountered in the past with their use of legal entity software, and our purpose has always been to analyze and implement how we can enable lawyers to use IT software as effectively as possible in the working environment. Athennian has long studied how the minor distractions that take up so much of a legal professional’s day – the invoicing, searching for documentation, document signing, and so on, can be integrated to provide one single, one-stop solution that will save time and effort, leaving space free for the rea, focused legal work to be done. Athennian’s entity-management suite provides a valuable, cloud-based solution that enables lawyers, paralegals, corporate secretaries, and indeed any firm that requires a scalable solution to securely address the routine tasks that require constant ongoing attention, and instead increase billable hours.Legal Entity Management: Scalable Features and Cloud-Based Integration The scalable, cloud-based integration of key firm functions that Athennian provides, including features such as the facility for eSignatures, document automation and custom templates, means that using this technology as a base, legal departments can work together more smoothly, in the knowledge that key business procedures are already covered. Not only this: in full awareness of the complexity of practice law, as well as the actual business aspect, Athennian has developed a powerful solution that enables total integration. It isn’t simply a database; rather, our legal entity software focuses on enabling ways in which colleagues can easily and efficiently communicate and collaborate with one another in a workspace that ensures the speedy signing of documentation, the ability to quickly search for, find and download folders and files, the auto-population of templates, and the ability to work together with colleagues in real time.By using this technology as the core base for operations, law firms can function more efficiently and better execute client work. Essentially, the use of legal entity software means that firms have the ability to keep a significantly tighter rein on operations, and this results in reduced spend across the business. It also means that legal departments are both internally aligned, as well as working better across the firm with other departments, so that there is the elimination of any confusion or delays when different departments, such as corporate and property, are working on the same transaction. ‍Streamlined Security and Standardization This increased streamlining of documentation, records, and the facilitation of improved communication all means that firms have a tailored tool at their disposal that has the ability to improve almost every aspect of their business. A centralized, technological solution means lower costs. Security concerns are also eliminated; Athennian uses rigorous monitoring tools and security controls to ensure that every single aspect of its operations, from document storage to reporting, to third-party integrations and auditing, are watertight. With all of the advantages that legal entity management software offers, the cost-effectiveness of an investment in an integrated solution is evident. Key to this is the allocation of a budget to technology and software; the cost-savings leveraged are achieved by the improvement of work processes, the expansion of team capabilities, and the fundamental standardization of business operations. One of the key solutions that Athennian provides is the means by which routine matters and templates can be standardized. Given that a high percentage of firm work is routine, standardization offers the potential for huge savings. These tasks and the related savings translate to almost every aspect of a firm and its business. Just one example is provided by e-billing - the software will automatically check invoices and eliminates the mistakes and omissions that often occur with human reviewers, and allows for the review of non-compliant invoices that may have been approved for payment. Whereas in the past, different departments in the same firm may once have adhered to different guidelines with regard to invoicing procedures, these will now be standardised and integrated. This solution improves not only cost-transparency, but also means that firms now have the ability to better estimate their costs and profits.‍Increased Legal Focus and Reduced Costs The tighter control of firm variables, the standardization of documentation, and the implementation of a collaborative, cloud-based solution means that professionals are left free to carry out the critical legal work that brings in the true revenue and raises the firm’s reputation. By reducing time and spend on tasks that can be standardized and accessed by all workers from a single, cloud-based point of access, legal departments are able to focus on work and achieve improved hourly rates and work volume. This enhanced digital proficiency transforms firms into smoother operations, where colleagues have immediate access to crucial documentation and can work together in real-time. This elimination of the time wasted on the manual compilation of routine documentation and financials, with, instead, lawyers freed to work on their key areas of expertise, results in huge benefits. The improved spend, timekeeping, better-organized workload, and automation of routine documentation results in improved management, reducing the need to spend any more vital time on tedious tasks, faster work processes, reduced costs, and, ultimately, a focus on the completion of actual legal work. 

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Using Technology to Achieve Legal Operational Maturity

Just like any modern industry, operations play a critical role in successful business function. In the legal industry, operations are defined as a set of business initiatives, processes, and job functions that enable the efficient practice of law. They include technical practices and business strategies that aid legal professionals in delivering optimum services to their clients.According to the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium’s 2021 State of the Industry report, 57% of those surveyed ranked “automating legal processes” as a high priority for 2021. In addition, 54% rank “implementing new technology solutions” as an equally high priority. With the industry’s growing adoption of automation, tech solutions are more business-critical than ever before, especially when looking to achieve operational maturity. The Pillars of Legal OperationsThe Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) lists fourteen target areas of legal operations: Change Management and Communications, or the strategic planning for implementing intended changes within the company, provides alignment, support, and structure for company-facing legal operations.Contract Management, including all processes related to contract creation, execution, storage, and compliance.eDiscovery, which is defined as the identifying, collecting, and production of electronically-stored information for reasons relating to lawsuits or investigations.External Resources Management, or the processes relating to selecting, managing, and compensating vendors.Financial Management, including management of all resources, revenues, expenses, and budgets, in addition to ensuring compliance between accounting.Information Governance, or a secure system for managing business-critical data that upholds an organization’s compliance, entities, and other functional requirements.Innovation Management, including evaluating, choosing, piloting, and implementing all innovative systems within the legal department. Intellectual Property Management, or the processes related to the return on investment in the intangible assets of an organization, such as patents and trademarks.Internal Resources Management, defined as the operations that advance HR within the legal department. Knowledge Management, or the strategic collection and distribution of understood knowledge within a company. Metrics & Analytics, or the collection and organization of data for decision making and performance management.Project & Process Management, including planning and coordinating all initiatives in the pursuit of efficiency. Strategic Planning & Legal Operations Leadership, including processes that set operational alignment, allocate resources and define metric standards.Technology Management, or the procurement, evaluation, and maintenance of user-friendly, modern, and scalable software Technology ManagementIn todays digital age, organization’s must strive for advanced maturity in the fourteenth and most relevant pillar, Technology Management. According to Gartner’s report, “The Future of Legal,” teams with a technology-forward approach are predicted to outperform those without by 2025. Advanced technology operations include a well-defined 5+ year technology roadmap that follows industry trends and adapts to ongoing benchmarks. Operational maturity in this area also requires a top-down approach––meaning the support and advocacy for tech solutions should exist from the senior management level down. Organizations with dedicated technologists or IT resources are well-positioned for operational maturity. However, a crucial part of technology management is finding software that can function 100% off-premises––especially as remote-working becomes the norm in more and more industries. The use of innovative solutions improves efficiency in every area of legal operations––HR software has a huge impact on mature internal resources management, eDiscovery would not be possible without automation, and cloud-based knowledge libraries are necessary for company-wide alignment. In fact, ACC data suggests that mature legal operations require relevant software solutions for each of the 14 areas. How Mature Are Your Legal Operations? Where does your organization currently stand on technology? Have you implemented a five-year roadmap that includes solutions to help manage operational challenges, such as corporate governance and entity management?Take our short, interactive assessment to determine your legal operations maturity status, and receive customized recommendations and improvement areas. 

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11 Reasons to Move to the Cloud from An On Premises System

Many organizations find that cloud based solutions meet their needs while providing a number of additional benefits. Cloud solutions make sense for companies of all sizes who are interested in taking advantage of secure, modern solutions. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of working in the cloud and why it should be part of your digital transformation strategy.1. Easy to AccessThe most important benefit of cloud solutions is that it is always available. Your users are able to connect and access key data and files anytime, anywhere, using nothing more than a modern web browser. 2. Improved Security‍‍Internal IT teams have many tasks that they are responsible for, one of which being security monitoring. The key differentiator between cloud and on-premise solutions is encryption. The encryption of data means that information is less accessible by hackers or anyone not authorized to view your data. In addition, cloud-based services typically offer a number of security settings that can be set based on the user, allowing for easy control over what information can or cannot be accessed. Modern cloud-based applications are also secured and monitored by a dedicated security team, with a defined set of audited controls and tools that are onerous to implement for all but the largest enterprise businesses. 3. A Gateway to InnovationDevelopers are able to deploy new services and features with the speed and agility that is only possible in the cloud. This fuels innovation and helps you gain or maintain a competitive advantage. 4. Reduced Maintenance CostsWith cloud computing, your IT team no longer is responsible for managing software or security updates. On-premise solutions typically require substantial upfront setup, patching, and other time-consuming maintenance from IT. When you adopt cloud solutions this is all managed by the service provider, leaving your teams free to focus on more important business goals.5. Increased Collaboration Cloud solutions empower your teams, who may be in multiple locations and timezones to collaborate easily. When teams are able to work and share documents and records in real time, efficiency increases.6. Reduced RiskAs more collaboration starts to happen it becomes increasingly critical that you are able to control where and how documents are being shared. With on-premise solutions, your team is sending files back and forth as email attachments to be worked on by one user at a time. This results in a mess of conflicting file content, formats, and titles. With a cloud solution you reduce the risk that files are shared and stored on individual team members' computers. This helps to ensure that all files are stored centrally and everyone sees the most recent version. 7. Multi-Tenant Resource PoolingCloud solutions are by design, multi-tenant. This allows for multiple users to share resources but without exposing them to security risks. 8. Ability to Scale RapidlyAnother major benefit of cloud computing is its scalability (or elasticity). This means that cloud services automatically scale up or down as needed, ensuring that resources are available when required. It is no longer necessary to buy additional hardware -- this automatically happens! 9. Simple to ImplementWhen you choose a cloud solution, you remove the need to coordinate a large IT project to manage the implementation. When your team is able to implement a key application quicker, the return on investment and impact is also realized more rapidly.Cloud-based services can be deployed within weeks or months compared to the years it can take to strategically plan, buy, build and implement an on-premise solution. 10. Increase ReliabilityReliability is a major benefit to cloud solutions. When you introduce cloud solutions you can expect uptimes of 99.99%. Modern cloud-based architectures provide a level of fault tolerance in areas like; the application, supporting databases, and data center in the case of disaster recovery that are not easily matched by older on-premise architectures. This means that when one server is down another server will take its place; all your data will be kept safe at any time.11. Reduce CostsSignificant savings can be realized when cloud solutions are adopted. Operating expenses related to supporting on-premise solutions will be removed as well as capital expenditure on internal infrastructure. Your team will no longer need to manage and maintain equipment and infrastructure as this is passed along to the cloud provider. Utilizing cloud services reduces ongoing costs, as the responsibility for maintaining and replacing equipment and infrastructure as well as IT environment management is passed to the cloud provider. Companies can also take the initiative to directly negotiate a deal with the cloud provider instead of blindly signing up or accepting terms and conditions.

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Legal Entities Vs. Employer of Record

It has been said that the most valuable assets of a business entity are its people. Employees, workforce, human capital––whatever the preferred term, the entity's employment of a labor force – its status as an employer – carries with it a myriad of benefits, tax, and labor law compliance obligations. The complexity and nuance of remaining in compliance with employment-related laws, regulations, and internal policies sometimes warrant time or expertise that is simply lacking within the business entity or unable to be allocated to the compliance obligations at hand. Within this compliance space, the relationship between a legal entity, employer of record, co-employer, and joint employer becomes apparent.In such cases, a legal entity may decide to contract out some administrative components of its employment-related compliance obligations to third-party entities such as an Employer of Record entity or a Professional Employer Organization. Some considerations of outsourcing employer compliance obligations are whether the employer contracting for services (the “client-entity") needs to be formed/registered in the jurisdiction in which the employee performs the work, what compliance obligations are outsourced, and which one (or both) of the contracting parties is considered the employer for purposes of risks and liabilities associated with the status of the employer.Employer Compliance ObligationsA legal entity can be defined as a company, organization, or institution – be it in the form of a limited liability company, corporation, limited partnership, general partnership, or business trust – that has legal obligations and rights. The compliance obligations include those concerning entity formation, registration, regulatory filings, reporting, and remitting of payments. For example, some entities are required to have registered agents, file annual reports, and file transactional reports at the time of formation, merger, or dissolution. Business entities may also be subject to industry-specific compliance obligations such as those in insurance, banking, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries.A legal entity may or may not be an employer. Whatever the definition of the employment relationship as given by a particular statute, regulation, or case law, as an employer, the entity is accountable for compliance obligations arising out of its status. For example, US-based employers are required to calculate and withhold federal income tax, social security tax, state income tax, and other taxes from employees’ wages, remit the withholdings to the appropriate tax agency and file quarterly reports. Employers may also have compliance obligations stemming from the retirement and health-related benefits it offers employees, such as disclosure, recordkeeping, and/or reporting under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) or the Affordable Care Act (ACA). An employer’s employment practices such as employment verification and pre-employment background checks can give rise to compliance obligations, for example, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) or separations of employment giving rise to compliance obligations under unemployment insurance laws. Lastly, employers can have compliance obligations around workplace facilities and conditions such as those imposed by workers’ compensation and the Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA). The Employer of RecordAn employer of record contracts with a client-entity to assume certain compliance obligations the client-entity has with respect to its status as an employer. The employer of record serves in an administrative capacity, distinct from the day-to-day, onsite operations over which the client entity maintains control and direction. With this contractual division of administrative and operational oversight, the employer of record becomes the direct employer of the client-entity’s employee(s), assuming the risks and liabilities associated with the contracted-for services. These services can include pre-employment screening, entering and managing employment contracts with employees, visa applications and immigration compliance, collecting and tracking hours worked, payroll processing and tax withholding, benefits administration, workers’ compensation and unemployment administration, and severance arrangements, all administered in a manner compliant with the benefits, tax, and labor laws of the country and locale in or from which the employee works.Employer of record arrangements are routinely used in the global and domestic employment mobility contexts and may offer several benefits to a legal entity that wants to establish a presence in a different state or country than the jurisdiction in which it is formed/registered.Co-employment and Joint EmploymentIn addition to engaging an employer of record wherein the employer of record takes on specified liabilities and risks as the employer, a client entity can also contract out its employment-related compliance obligations by entering a co-employment relationship with a professional employer organization (PEO). In a co-employment relationship, the client-entity shares employment status with the PEO. In other words, unlike with an Employer of Record entity which is considered the employer, both the PEO and the client entity are considered employers but have contractually agreed which party will assume primary responsibility (and shared liability/risk) for compliance obligations. For example, if the PEO failed to remit payroll taxes or workers' compensation insurance premiums as its contract with the client entity required, the client entity could be held financially liable by the applicable government agencies.Furthermore, unlike partnering with an employer of record entity which does not (initially) require the client-entity to have a registered or formed legal entity in the jurisdiction in or from which the employee performs work, when engaging with a PEO, the client-entity has a registered legal entity in the jurisdiction where it co-employs employees. The relationship between the PEO and the client-entity is intended as an ongoing relationship and not as a temporary relationship as with an employee leasing arrangement for staffing projects and tasks that have a start and end date.As mentioned above, whether an entity is considered an employer can revolve around whether that entity controls and directs the day-to-day operations of employees (as distinct from the entity performing only employment-related administrative tasks). Whereas co-employment focuses on contractually agreed upon administrative services (and sometimes strategic services or business advising), a joint employer relationship is focused on the element of control and which entities benefit from the employee’s work. Joint employment can be seen in employee leasing or temporary staffing situations where the staffing agency is the primary employer, and the client-entity becomes the secondary employer through its control and direction of the workforce. The status of a joint employer can become important for determining whether the client-entity will be subject to liability and risk for, for example, certain wage and hour employment practices regulated by such statutes as the Fair Labor Standards Act and labor practices as regulated by the National Labor Relations Act.In SummaryIn summary, legal entities have options when it comes to contracting out employment-related compliance obligations. The contracting process allows a client entity to unshoulder the administrative challenges that come with being a compliant employer by shifting its employer status to a third party in an employer of record, co-employment, or joint employment relationship.

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4 Critical Steps in Corporate Subsidiary Management

What is a Subsidiary?Corporate business owners understand the value of creating companies to secure and safeguard the owner’s personal assets. Oftentimes, corporations with a large portfolio of assets create new legal entities to hold individual assets or a class of assets, such as real estate, stock, or materials, while controlling over 50% of the subsidiary’s shares, to protect the corporation’s assets. Each new legal entity that is wholly owned by the parent corporation is considered a subsidiary of the parent corporation.Using subsidiaries as a holding company for the parent corporation’s assets provides significant legal protection from lawsuits against the parent corporation and precludes claimants from going after the parent corporation’s other assets by essentially removing the parent corporation’s liability to that of the subsidiary. Subsidiaries also allow quick and efficient due diligence if the parent corporation pursues liquidation. Further, if a parent corporation seeks financing, it can efficiently enable its subsidiaries to act as guarantors and grantors of security. Creating subsidiaries introduces many legal and business complexities that require continuous attention. The benefits of corporate subsidiaries are manifold, but parent corporations often fall victim to being accountable for the subsidiary’s liabilities because of poor subsidiary management. This article suggests three steps corporations should take in managing their subsidiaries to ensure effective subsidiary management and the security of the parent corporation’s assets. #1- Pre-Formation PlanningBefore forming the subsidiary, the parent corporation should plan and organize which assets or functions of the business the subsidiary would hold, where the assets or functions will be located, and whether the subsidiary will conduct business and hire employees. The answers to these questions will allow each subsidiary to serve a precise purpose, which will increase efficiency at every stage and simplify its governance.The parent corporation’s managing officers should also consider centralizing all decisions regarding the subsidiaries’ management with the corporation’s legal counsel or the corporate secretary and passing a resolution authorizing the corporation’s legal counsel or the corporate secretary to take certain actions on the corporation’s behalf, such as the formation of subsidiary companies, deciding the appropriate jurisdiction for each subsidiary’s formation, filing all necessary documents and reports for each subsidiary, maintaining each subsidiary’s records, and paying any required taxes and fees. Initially, each subsidiary will prepare articles of incorporation and bylaws or an operating agreement. The parent corporation should pursue uniformity and should draft articles of incorporation and bylaws or operating agreements that are substantially similar in form to ensure no contradictory clauses or obligations. The subsidiary’s bylaws or operating agreement should include clauses that provide indemnification to the subsidiary’s directors and limit the directors’ personal liability. Both the parent corporation and subsidiary should also pass separate resolutions and a contribution agreement for the issuance of stock in return for capital contribution, which will allow the subsidiary to demonstrate it has adequate capital to exist as an independent company.#2- Maintaining the Subsidiary’s StatusIt is foreseeable that parent corporations may forget calendar dates when taxes or annual reports (or equivalent filings, as applicable under the jurisdiction’s laws) are due for each of its subsidiaries. When a subsidiary’s taxes or annual reports are past due, the subsidiary is considered not to be in good standing, and the parent corporation exposes itself to the liabilities of the subsidiary (depending on the jurisdiction’s laws and whether the parent company is a corporation). This scenario occurred in a recent case where the parent corporation was successfully sued for money the subsidiary owed to a contractor because the subsidiary was not in good standing.Accordingly, it is paramount that parent corporations assign a person responsible within each subsidiary for keeping track of due dates for any taxes and annual reports. The subsidiary then should consider passing a resolution authorizing the person responsible within each subsidiary to explicitly take any actions necessary to maintain the subsidiary’s good standing. The person responsible could be one of the subsidiary’s directors or the subsidiary’s legal counsel.Although the parent corporation wholly owns its subsidiary, the subsidiary should hold its own annual meetings or execute unanimous written consents. If the parent corporation has many subsidiaries, although the directors may be the same, each subsidiary should hold its own annual meetings or execute unanimous written consents rather than performing the same jointly. If possible, the directors of each subsidiary should be different individuals. Through the subsidiary’s resolutions, each subsidiary should be able to demonstrate that the subsidiary is its own company rather than the parent corporation acting through the subsidiary. #3- Document EverythingIf one were to ask a group of attorneys for some non-billable legal advice, they could probably agree on two words: Document everything. Such is the importance of maintaining accurate and up-to-date records on everything. Keep every conversation, contract, note, deed, receipt, complaint, settlement, change of information, and file. More importantly, each subsidiary should diligently create corporate records for every action that requires board resolutions or consent, as provided by the bylaws or operating agreement. Every stock or asset transfer, material contract, annual meeting, director elections or appointments, and any significant corporate action should be documented in a board resolution. Within the resolution approving of certain actions, a catch-all clause approving of “all corporate actions necessary to further the company’s interests” should also be included to allow the flexibility of demonstrating that all actions performed were by the subsidiary rather than the parent corporation. After creating subsidiaries, document recording systems often become—for lack of better words—sloppy. Papers get misplaced, lost, or confused. To remedy this, management should consider creating separate filing systems for each subsidiary rather than centralizing document management with the parent corporation. This function can also be achieved by having someone responsible for accurately filing documents and assigning them to the correct subsidiary’s folders. All documents should be well-organized and filed with the appropriate subsidiary.‍#4- Invest in Tech SolutionsA cloud-based legal management system streamlines subsidiary management and allows its users to plan, maintain, and document each subsidiary’s records seamlessly. Further, a cloud-based entity management solution minimizes the risks of non-compliance with jurisdictional regulations. With a focus on increasing productivity, scalability, and an automating manual process, Athennian leverages user data to quickly populate reports, certificates, and other necessary documents in one accessible program, eliminating the headache that comes with managing subsidiaries the traditional, time-consuming way. 

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5 Signs it’s Time to Update Your Law Firm’s Tech

A lot of the work that we do on a day-to-day basis revolves around the technology we have, and it’s ability to keep up with our workflows. Paralegals and other legal professionals rely on the software their firm provides, and when this is slow and outdated, it can be a major headache. You can’t guarantee top of the line security for your clients’ personal information. It takes much longer to access the things you need on a computer running at a fraction of its maximum speed. Is your law firm’s technology outdated? Here are the key signs: Sign 1: Your Profits Are Steadily Declining Year After YearClients are consistently putting pressure on your firm’s overall revenue, whether that’s through demanding alternate billing options or refusing to pay for administrative costs. If your firm is absorbing costs that clients refuse to pay, you have likely seen a decline in your overall profitability. This means you might be more hesitant to spend money on even more systems that you might not be able to recover from. However, if your expenses are increasing and your profits are declining, the best solution is to improve the efficiency of your work. Outdated software puts a strain on paralegal teams, but with newer and faster legal tools, paralegals can focus on higher-value tasks. Entity management platforms such as Athennian have several resources to help improve your workflows, including client portals to make communication and collaboration more efficient; improved task tracking and document automation tools; reporting dashboards that allow you to view client information in one place rather than wasting time searching, and more. Sign 2: You Still Have Large Blocks of Filing Cabinets. Think about how difficult and time-consuming it can be to locate that one document you need when you have to search through a filing cabinet in the office. And, what about when you need that document when you’re out of the office, or when you’re working remotely as was the case during COVID-19? Paper files pose significant security risks when compared to digital files. It is scarily simple to misappropriate paper documents and files whether by theft, photocopying, or just taking a picture. Firms must consider whether paper filing still complies with a lawyer’s ethical obligations. Lastly, paper filing is expensive. It takes up very costly real estate in an office. Firms are reducing their overall space to accommodate remote workers, and therefore, decreasing the physical size of your office can more than offset the cost of going digital. Sign 3: Your Existing Systems Don’t Talk to Each Other. Consider your day-to-day workflow. Do you frequently have to go into one system (or filing cabinet) to get documents for a client, copy them over to your email so you can discuss them with the client, upload the document to another program to edit it, email the client back and forth until you have a final copy, then go into another system to upload the final document and file it? If so, you are not putting your skill and experience to good use. Properly integrated entity management tools can help streamline your entire workflow, end to end. Many firms have purchased three or four different systems to accomplish different pieces of their workflows. Digital entity management tools are designed to provide exactly what your firm needs, without a puzzle-piece approach. By integrating solutions like Athennian into your practice, you’re connecting all the dots in one system that can be customized to your firm’s needs. Sign 4: Your Team Needs More Flexibility, But Your Systems Rely on Too Much Manual EffortRepetitive and duplicative work is usually a symptom of either poor system integrations, or outdated procedures. When you have systems that can talk to each other and share critical data, you can reduce the amount of time you spend searching for documents and entering data. Manual processes make the work day hard and they increase risk in more ways than one. For example, they can delay documents from being created due to missing data, therefore increasing the time taken for documents to be signed by the appropriate stakeholders. Not only do manual processes increase the risk of missing deadlines, but this can also have a costly effect on compliance. New, cloud-based digital systems can automatically populate data with the click of a button, facilitate e-signatures, and file documents with the government in a fraction of the time. Without the need to go through multiple manual steps, legal solutions like Athennian simplify the process and deliver a key advantage to your firm. Sign 5: You Frequently Deal With Tech Support ProblemsSo much so, that team members would rather use their own devices. In many cases, outdated software requires at least one IT professional to be fully dedicated to maintaining it - whether that’s adding new users, fixing glitches, manually updating the system on the server, and more. In some law firms, it is also possible that the software is obsolete, and current approaches can’t solve the problem. It may cost more to attempt to salvage what you have than it would be to purchase a new piece of technology. Opting for newer technology will allow you to receive quick and accurate help when you need it. This allows IT resources to be proactive and plan for future initiatives, rather than trying to fix the same old problems. Is it Time for a Legal Tech Update? Solid legal technology is critical to the growth and success of your firm. Updating the technology you have available may be necessary in order to continue providing the highest quality of service to your clients. Athennian can migrate your business data to the cloud easily, efficiently, and cost-effectively. Read our free Entity Management Starter Kit for a high level overview of how we do this. 

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The Impact of the ESG Regulations on Entity Management in North America

Environmental, Social and Governance Disclosure Obligations Lately, there has been a great deal of news in the media about the potential for ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) reporting regulations to soon become mandatory for North American entities, and in fact, on June 16, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives enacted legislation that imposes both due diligence and disclosure requirements on companies that are publicly traded. Indeed, the COP26 Summit, the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2021, has highlighted not only the importance of tackling the globe’s long-term shift in temperature and weather patterns as a direct result of human activity, but also the vital role of business in this struggle.Indeed, at the COP26 conference, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) was created with the aim of facilitating a global and harmonized system of specific sustainability disclosure standards. With ESG representing the philosophy that companies should look to align their operations with values that support sustainable economic development, there is valid concern that this will create risks and onerous obligations that may potentially impact on the ability of a company to create long-term value. This is linked to disquiet not only about climate change, but also connected issues such as resource scarcity and social criteria related to a company’s business relationships, governance, and its treatment of employees.How Legal Technology Facilitates ESG Compliance Yet ESG and the forthcoming regulatory requirements provide a unique opportunity for legal entities to benefit from the operationalization of ESG standards and disclosure requirements. It is legal technology that will provide your legal or business organization with the crucial ingredient for the implementation of ESG principles in your corporate strategy, and this ultimately depends upon successful integration. This will involve the organization-wide incorporation of ESG into numerous matters, including the enactment of workforce diversity and inclusion policies, the business credentials of partners and your investment strategy, as well as your organization’s approach to compensation and the identification of ESG risks. This is undeniably a great deal of work, and there is a lot to consider. There are, however, unquestionable benefits for a firm that incorporates a more integrated approach to ESG. Indeed, to name just one compelling reason to implement ESG principles in your organization, there is significant evidence that sustainable corporate practices tend to result in increased performance. An open and integrated approach to working on the basis of ESG principles will also be undoubtedly effective in enhancing your reputation. The reverse of this approach has proven to be devastating for companies; an organization’s failure to ensure visibility into its own activities can result in the imposition of legal fines, lost profits, director liability, and a damaged reputation. Indeed; the impact of “high ESG controversy” events has been shown to result in the underperformance of shares even a distance of two years later.The previous voluntary and essentially market-led practice under which organizations provided their own data and disclosures, and which were often not even externally verified, will no longer be acceptable. To this end, the use of legal technology to facilitate the integration of ESG principles in your organization will be crucial. With the explosion of new data sources, business models, and external forces, we are finding ourselves in unchartered territory where traditional corporate governance may not be sufficient to address the risks involved. The ESG and corporate social responsibility concerns that impact how companies interact with stakeholders including employees, customers, shareholders, and suppliers mean that any attempt by law firms and the legal departments of organizations to track these requirements manually will be a recipe for disaster.Yet many legal departments are already weighed down by heavy workloads and budgetary restrictions and lack the capacity to properly manage the extra tasks imposed by the requirements of ESG compliance. Often, the tax and finance departments are brought in to support the legal team, but they are likely to be struggling with their own pressures and priorities. While some firms do possess internal solutions to entity management, they are often bespoke and lack the scale, convenience, and responsiveness of an off-the-shelf software solution.Legal Technology and the Integration of ESG Factors It is fortunate, therefore, that software entity management provides a vital means for the proper centralization of your organization’s data, and for ensuring that your ESG goals and forthcoming disclosure requirements are met. Entity management can be used to integrate ESG regulations into the day-to-day operations of a company. As the world grows ever more global, organizations will need to focus on building awareness of social and environmental responsibility.Indeed, entity management software provides a means by which organizations can collect, benchmark, and report ESG data in a seamless and flexible manner. Its comprehensiveness means that it is easy to create dashboards and reports that measure and report accountability across all organization units so that lawyers and executives can see where improvements are needed quickly, effectively, with robust metrics reports. Entity management software, through interactive dashboards and reports, means that organizations can proactively identify risk. It also helps to drive business operations, ultimately leading to increased sales and market share. By the inclusion of multiple ESG considerations within your organization’s internal policies or procedures, the associated processes are delivered through the software entity management system, monitoring compliance with automation specifically designed to integrate and analyze your data. Crucially, the software streamlines process time by avoiding the delays caused by manual processes, eliminating the need for IT staff to maintain multiple spreadsheets or different information technology systems. Implementing Entity Management Software in Advance of ESG Disclosure RequirementsThe imminent requirement that ESG disclosure will soon be required of SEC-listed companies means that entity management organization should no longer be overlooked, given the huge value it provides. Through an automated workflow, an entity management solution will enable an automated workflow for all governance and ESG activities, providing a centralized foundation that will ensure an organization’s compliance with all legal and financial requirements. With a leading legal entity management system in place, you will reap the benefits of the most up-to-date legal technology. The previous time and effort expended on monitoring compliance of legal and business functions across jurisdictions will finally be eliminated, ensuring that you stay ahead of the game and are in place to meet all ESG compliance and reporting obligations.

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The Solution to Outdated Software: Athennian vs. EnAct

According to EY research, 96% of legal teams face challenges with their entity management due to organizational challenges, mismanaged formats, and other unique complexities. With a concerningly large percent of the industry reporting inefficiencies, it is important to take a look at the existing infrastructure that supports this particular function of law. Entity management is one of the most laborious processes in corporate law, as it requires constant maintenance and review. Most entity management platforms on the market today were created before the year 2000, meaning they were designed pre-cloud, pre-wireless, and before the tech standard became at-your-fingertips-accessible. Shouldn’t a process so complex have a product that not only matches its nuance but also enhances it through today’s best-in-class technology? Feature Comparison:As EnAct nears its end of life, users are considering switching to similar Corporatek systems or migrating to a modern, scalable, cloud-based solution that understands the day-to-day needs of a legal professional. Unlike EnAct, Athennian requires no installation or IT management and lives securely in the cloud. Without constant IT management, businesses save time for higher-value tasks and can put budget toward advancing their technology road-maps instead of depleting IT resources.Athennian provides users with a secure and flexible solution to their entity management. The ability to add unlimited users to Athennian gives teams the flexibility to collaborate and share data with stakeholders easily.With Athennian, users can access the system from anywhere with no limitations. This is a direct contrast to Corporatek’s VPN requirements needed for remote access, and their pay-per-user model. Athennian’s ease-of-use is fueled by its rapid auto-population function, allowing users to create signature-ready documents with the click of a button, whereas EnAct’s manual functions add friction and time to an already complex process. In addition to Athennian’s ease of use, our dedicated product team maintains a system that works with 99.99% uptime. Athennian’s routine weekly updates seamlessly integrate into the system, unlike Corporate systems which are frequently down and often require manual intervention and maintenanceWell-loved features of EnAct can also be found in Athennian. For example, both systems allow for easily exportable digital minute books, and have access to intricate org charts that map subsidiary relationships. However, with Athennian’s platform, certain regions can eFile, streamlining the entity management process even further. For a complete feature comparison, you can download our Feature Comparison sheet:‍Upgrading to Athennian From EnActAthennian’s dedicated migration teams make transferring your business-critical data simple, secure, and streamlined.Athennian has developed a proven methodology for successfully transferring your data from EnAct to its new home in Athennian. Athennian can expertly migrate all data from EnAct, such as:Entity & compliance detailsAddresses, agents, registrationsBy-laws, articles, governance, etc. Shareholders, share classes, transactions, certificates, etc. Directors, officers, etc. Custom coded documentsFor a full overview of the migration process from EnAct to Athennian, you can download our Migration Sheet, here.

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Gartner Urges Legal Teams to Take on a Technology Strategy by 2025

It is more important than ever to maintain resilience and prepare for capricious circumstances in today’s world of constantly changing variables (e.g., climate change, political and social upheaval, economic volatility, the COVID-19 Pandemic). According to a recent report from Gartner, research suggests that businesses that have demonstrated this durability share three critical attributes: Responsive risk management, a dynamic culture, and a flexible structure. Responsive Risk ManagementOrganizations that prioritize risk management through implementation from a senior leadership level are more adaptable to unforeseen changes. Constant coordination, management, and mitigation prove to yield better outcomes; however, only 13% of respondents feel confident that they can manage cross-functional risks without pulling from other business areas.A Dynamic Culture‍Gartner characterizes a dynamic culture as “communicative, collaborative, cooperative, and creative.” The research concludes that organizations with time-efficient and relevant decision-making processes are more likely to thrive competitively.‍A Flexible Structure‍By adopting practices that leverage technology and remote-working, teams create a globally diverse and competitive environment and empower a more inclusive workforce. Legal teams that have embraced digital and remote-enabled practices have seen huge benefits since the start of 2020. Adopting a Technology StrategyAdopting a strategy or roadmap is uncharted territory for an industry that has been historically resistant to technological change. Among those surveyed by Gartner, only “9% of respondents feel confident that they can create a cohesive, long-term plan for digitalizing the legal department.” Gartner reports that legal departments struggle to leverage technology and rely on “market hype” rather than addressing their unique needs and investing in solutions that will impact their broader business outcomes. Action StepsAccording to the survey, there are three key action steps to follow when implementing a technology strategy: 1. Identify ChallengesGartner urges legal teams to identify their challenge areas and prioritize those technologies that can improve their most pressing needs. In looking at the business at large and identifying the overarching challenges, the logical solutions become apparent. ‍2. Create Operating ProcessesAlign your team with new operations that supplement your technology investments. A technological roadmap requires adaptation and ground-up tactics for creating streamlined processes. ‍3. Plan & TestAccording to the report, it is critical to involve stakeholders when identifying future needs. With top-down alignment, you can "pressure-test hypotheses" and create designs for solutions moving forward.Need More Help Evaluating Solutions?Because legal teams are unpracticed in the evaluation stage of software buying, Athennian has created a guide for purchasing legal entity management software.For best practices and a detailed checklist for what to look for in a technology vendor, download Athennian’s Essential Checklist here. 

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Introduction to Transfer Pricing and ICAs

This blog is based on the guest chapter written by Paul Sutton of LCN Legal in Athennian’s Best Practices in Corporate Subsidiary Management eBook.Transfer PricingTransfer pricing, also known as TP, is a set of international tax laws that determine a company’s charges, such as royalties, service fees, and goods prices. These decide what is paid between connected entities within a multinational group and influence where profits are made and taxed. What is the Arms Length Principle?The arms-length principle is an adopted international standard for determining transfer prices for tax purposes. According to LCN Legal, what this means is that “tax authorities review the transfer prices affecting a particular enterprise, and then tax that enterprise based on the profits it would have made had the prices been negotiated between independent third parties.” This applies to ongoing and one-off transactions and to both legal entities and branches. However, this increases the risk of double taxation because the implication is that any tax change should apply to all jurisdictions. If this does not occur, the enterprise may be taxed twice. What are ICAs? Intercompany agreements, or ICAs are a fundamental component of transfer pricing compliance for multinational groups. According to Paul Sutton of LCN legal, intercompany agreements “define the legal terms under which transactions occur within a group of companies.” These transactions can look like:Head office and back-office services (e.g., finance, tax, legal, and HR services)Marketing servicesR&D servicesIT services and supportShared services arrangementsSale of goodsSales agency and commissionaire arrangements Intellectual property licensesRevenue/profit sharingCost-sharingContract manufacturingToll manufacturingLoan facilities (e.g., term loans, revolving credit, and overdraft facilities)Intercompany debt in security form (e.g., loan notes)Guarantees and other forms of security or financial supportCash poolingSecondment of staff and other mobility arrangementsICAs play a critical part in implementing transfer pricing policies, including:Describing the transactions – (e.g., recording which services are provided or intellectual property is licensed.)Allocating contractual risk between parties – (e.g., risks include product liability claims, credit risks, or inventory risks.) Specifying the fees to be paid by the correct parties – (e.g., royalties or license fees.)Specifying which party owns intellectual property rights used connection with the arrangement.In a tax audit, ICAs are one of the first items that tax administrations will ask for. An ICA must match the group’s transfer pricing policy and tax filing; otherwise, the group is instantly disadvantaged. Not only will this extend the audit process, but it will also undermine the enterprise group’s credibility. What Makes an ICA Effective? To be successful, an ICA must be aligned with the allocation of functions, risks, and rewards described in transfer pricing policies. It must also be legally binding and correctly managed (i.e., signed and dated by all participating entities.) In addition, ICAs require regular maintenance so that they accurately reflect the group’s policies and structure. Without proper maintenance, a group could find itself with an excess of penalties. For more information on effective ICAs and their commonly occurring issues, you can download the Best Practices in Corporate Subsidiary Management eBook, which includes an entire chapter on ICAs and TPs. 

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Best Practices for Legal Document Automation

For any mature in-house legal team or high-performing law firm, legal document automation is an essential part of company-wide efficiency. Allowing for signature-ready documents in record time, document automation offers consistency both internally and when presenting to clients. With document automation, legal professionals can reduce the risk of error by systemizing their knowledge management and establish precedents within the automated system that aligns the entire department.In Athennian’s webinar on legal document automation, 64% reported that they would be starting a document automation project in the next 12 months. For many in the legal industry, adopting new tech practices can be daunting. Still, as reflected by the webinar’s guest panelist, Karen DiMartino (Cassels LLP), investing in doc auto was like, “building a puzzle. [First], make sure you flip all the pieces over to get started, build your border, then some trial & error to put everything together. But it is beautiful when it comes together [and you] get the green checkmark that your document has been generated correctly.”If you fall into the 64% of legal professionals planning on starting a document automation project, here are some tips and best practices for ensuring that your endeavor is successful. Be Strategic About What Can Be AutomatedTechnology can only build logic off data points, so it is critical to ensure that your documents are repeatable. If a clause is going to be different every time, there is less value in trying to automate it. However, documents with repeatable options and corresponding data points for determining the appropriate language are ideal for automation projects. Pay Attention to the DetailsEven if all the data and the logic works, legal professionals can still get stuck with fixing formatting–– and it can make a huge impact. From the font, alignment, adjusting signing blocks, or formatting numbers with commas or decimals, the little details matter and can easily overwhelm with how quickly they add up. Invest in the Scope of the Project With document automation, most find that doing through initial preparation saves more time than going back later to fix mistakes in a template. Before starting, it is essential to examine your intentions from a 360 view. Why are you doing this? What are your intended business outcomes? Developing a clear starting point and execution plan ensures that you’ve taken the time to research and prepare for a successful project, and saves you valuable time later. Questions to consider before starting: What is your formatting style guide? How many different variations of a document are there? What data points will you use? Do you want to package some documents together or have them separate?Start Simple to Perfect the WorkflowBegin your project with simple, high-volume templates that will bring you the greatest return on investment. With simple templates, it’s easy to ensure that you have all the necessary data points. Better to save the 30-page share purchase agreement with 15 variations until you’re really comfortable with the coding process and have experience automating multiple workflows.Watch “Mastering Legal Document Automation” On-DemandFor more information and best practices, watch Athennian’s webinar, “Mastering Legal Document Automation.” There you’ll find in-depth advice and hear firsthand how a paralegal with a limited coding background was able to fully commit her team to legal document automation, saving both time and money.

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In-House Legal Teams Are Experiencing Burnout

Over the last year and a half, many industries have felt the impact of the global pandemic when it came to their team’s wellness and mental health. In fact, in the last year alone, organizations of all sizes and verticals have experienced a mass exodus as the workforce looks for more flexibility in balancing their work-life with how they want to spend their personal time.And it is impacting legal teams too.In October of this year, Gartner released a survey focused on the wellness of In-house legal teams, and the results were incredibly alarming. Of those surveyed who stated they were feeling exhausted in their roles, more than two-thirds said they were looking to leave their company. While the pandemic has contributed to burnout, the truth is that legal teams have long experienced high levels of burnout, with some saying that burnout culture is seen as part of the profession. What Exactly is Burnout?Burnout is a form of exhaustion that is experienced mentally, emotionally, and even physically. Burnout can be caused by work stress, family, personal finances, world events, and more. For legal teams, it can be heavy caseloads, client and organizational demands, concerns over the quality of work delivered, and more. Working remotely, being isolated from loved ones, and balancing workload with the demands of your family has led to an increased level of burnout for many legal professionals.Burnout Impacts All LevelsWhile it may be easy to assume burnout is only impacting corporate counsel, the truth is that all levels of a legal team have been impacted. Each role, whether it’s trainees, associates, or corporate counsel, is working harder than ever to accomplish tasks for the organization while living amid a global pandemic. As members of the team leave unexpectedly, those left behind will feel their workloads increased. What Causes Burnout & How To Tell If Your Team Is Experiencing It?Working hard and pushing yourself to the limit is still seen as a status symbol within the legal industry. Legal professionals have long been in a race to clock the most billable hours possible to not only receive a bigger paycheck but also to get into the good graces of their leaders. Burnout goes beyond feeling overwhelmed at the end of a busy workday. Burnout happens from chromic workplace stress that goes unmanaged. Identifying burnout in legal teams can be challenging, but here are a few signs that should raise concerns:Disconnected to the work being done. The best way to avoid being burnout with the work you do is to be proud of the work you do. Legal teams have a huge impact on the success of their organization or firm. If you notice that members of your team are disengaged and aren’t feeling pride in their work, it could mean that they are burnt out.Increased cynicism. Complaining about a project or task is normal in the workplace, but there comes a point when light complaining turns into cynicism. Decreased productivity. When someone is feeling burnout, they will often pull away from their work. Look for signs of tasks taking longer than expected or a lack of engagement from your team members.How to Solve Workplace Burnout On Your Legal TeamIf you or someone on your team is experiencing legal burnout, here are a few things you can do to address it:Acknowledgment. It’s often difficult for legal professionals to acknowledge that they are experiencing burnout. In a fast-paced, high-demand role, it is easy to confuse burnout with stress from a heavy workload. Acknowledging that burnout is being experienced is the first step to addressing the issue.Encourage time off. Time away from work can be a huge refresher for anyone experiencing burnout. Connect with your team. Burnout often happens because members of your team feel like they are working beyond what is expected of them. Hold regular one-on-one meetings with your team to understand what their to-do list looks like and how that aligns with what they were hired to do.ConclusionBurnout can affect anyone in any industry or role, including those that work in legal. When burnout goes unchecked, it can lead to team members quitting their jobs, which can have an impact on the entire team. Addressing burnout early can create a stronger team, more engaged legal professionals, and a healthier work environment.

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Legal Innovation: Where to Begin?

Traditionally, the legal industry has been hesitant to embrace technology due to its longstanding history of ceremony and heritage. Commitment to technology is a new milestone in the legal landscape that is rapidly growing each day; however, an industry as novice to the benefits of technology as ours is may need guidance navigating different service providers. In fact, 38% of legal professionals struggle to assess the appropriate software solutions for their organization’s needs. What Are Your Challenges?Before you can evaluate a software’s solutions, you must fully understand your unique needs. What does your organization struggle with? Where would you like to see improvements? Perhaps your team faces daily inefficiencies in task management or has difficulty collaborating interdepartmentally. With a detailed outline of your current situation, the path forward becomes more apparent.Why Do You Face These Challenges?Maybe your team’s task management is lacking because your calendars and to-do lists are not aligned. Or, your collaboration is severed because your data is siloed within different areas of the organization. Find potential causes for each problem in your workplace.How Have Others Solved Similar Issues? Explore software case studies and reviews to see if existing customers have run up against the same hurdles as you. Did they find relief through their new software? Look for the features they rave about, and ask yourself if these align with your needs. Evaluate a Platforms ResponsivenessThis step is especially critical for teams new to software services. If you anticipate friction in the adoption process, finding a solution with dedicated customer support is integral. Remember: modern and intuitive software grows with you. Find out if your potential new platform listens to user feedback. Will it adapt its features to solve the unmet needs of its clients? Ensure that your provider has the infrastructure to support you every step of the way. Looking to Adopt an Entity Management System?Investing in a purpose-built entity management platform is the best way to ensure that you have the specialized functions you need to optimize your team's productivity. For first steps and best practices for choosing the right entity management software, download our Entity Management Starter Kit, where you’ll find case studies from real users, an assessment checklist, and more!

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Can Automation and Innovation Exist in an Industry So Steeped in Tradition? 

With today’s technological advancements, expectations for automated processes have risen, making near-instant transactions the norm for almost every industry. You can transfer money within seconds, have same-day prescriptions delivered, and rent a car with the touch of a button. The role automation plays in the rapid expansion of industries begs the question: Why is the legal sector still resisting technological changes? Tradition & InnovationThe law profession maintains a sense of ceremony and heritage that is integral to its practice, and upholding this tradition is seen as critical to the successful practice of law. Many legal professionals are hesitant to change a system that thrives off of routine and precedence. However, there is no evidence to suggest that technological advancements in the legal industry undermine this sense of tradition. Innovation within legal practice actually serves a fundamental role both socially and economically. Paired together, an equilibrium between change and tradition are the pillars of a robust and high-performing function of law.Embracing Change Through TechnologyA key part of this symbiosis is technology. Embracing automation in legal practice is the logical next step for an industry that wants to maintain integrity in a changing world. Imagine: using technology to automate the time-consuming processes that hinder efficient operations. In fact, it is estimated that 23% of legal work can be automated by existing technology, meaning more time spent on billable hours and building client relationships, and less time spent on laborious processes. With services like Athennian’s, data can be seamlessly integrated into templates to create quick, signature-ready documents in one click. Document automation enables the creation of precise document templates through programming language and best-in-breed automation technology. With document automation, you can automatically populate corporate summaries, registers/ledgers, certificates, and custom documents within seconds, saving you time for productive work. Want to learn more about document automation? Attend our Webinar, Mastering Legal Document Automation.

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The Unique Challenges Posed to In-House Legal Teams

This article draws from Athennian’s webinar, “How In-House Legal Teams Can Improve Efficiency Company-Wide.” You can access the video recording and supplemental materials here.According to Gartner research, 68% of legal and compliance leaders struggle to manage their current workload. In addition, when comparing an in-house team to a large law firm, the challenges stretch even further. By nature, in-house teams don’t have as many resources, support staff, organization, and processes available as their counterparts. Often they’re dealing with a high volume of data and information that is dispersed throughout the company, further complicating their daily operations. Many in-house teams face challenges such as:A lack of visibility across teamsPoor document management.Limited trust in data Siloed informationIn fundamental terms, all of these problems can be solved by creating a living single source of truth with universal internal access. This allows for inter-departmental visibility, at-your-fingertips accessible data, and a database that stores information as it changes, ensuring that every team member has the most up-to-date documents at all times. Leveraging a cloud-based software solution is the simplest and most modern way to evade these challenges. With modern entity management software, you can:Streamline task management, such as corporate transactions & annual report filings. Automatically track annual maintenance, set due dates and email reminders, update data in bulk to retain consistency, and create shareable templates for entities.Improve cross-departmental collaboration. Customize specific team/user access capabilities to documents, virtual minute books, eSignature, and more. Set team-wide compliance or assignment reminders.Easily produce, sign, and archive consistent legal documents and forms. A scalable and modern solution offers a template library with automatic updates based on jurisdiction, eSignature integrations with email alerts and notifications, direct access to eFilings with the appropriate governing body, and more.Create an auditable system that can be accessed at any time. Technology solutions like Athennian’s keep you prepared for internal, external, or third-party audits. Your system keeps track of its history for change management purposes and easily identifies problematic or weak areas for improvement.‍

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Athennian vs. Fast Company 

A survey conducted from over 900 interviews with law department leaders found that 96% of legal teams face challenges with their entity management systems. Inefficiencies in this volume are not just the fault of internal disorganization but rather a symptom of a larger cause: insufficient infrastructure. Entity management is one of the most complicated processes in the legal industry, and its components require constant maintenance and updating. Most entity management platforms on the market today were created before the year 2000, meaning they were designed pre-cloud, pre-wireless, and before the tech standard became at-your-fingertips-accessible. Shouldn’t a process so complex have a product that not only matches its nuance but also enhances it through today’s best-in-class technology? If you’re one of the 96% who is currently unhappy with your entity management system, consider switching to a modern, scalable, cloud-based solution that understands the day-to-day needs of a legal professional. Feature ComparisonsAthennian offers its users an intuitive software interface that lives exclusively and securely in the cloud, giving its users safe and streamlined access to their data at any time and from anywhere. Other solutions, like Fast Company, exist on-premises only, rendering remote collaboration virtually impossible. Another critical difference between Athennian and Fast Company is that Athennian offers global jurisdiction management, while Fast Company only serves Ontario and Alberta. As your business expands, Athennian is committed to serving you wherever your needs take you. In addition, Athennian’s commitment to growth is unparalleled by any of today’s entity management software because of its dedicated weekly updates. Athennian’s team makes weekly changes to the platform based on real-time user feedback. Other features that set Athennian apart from Fast Company are:eSignature IntegrationsRapid Document Auto-PopulationOffice 365 and GSuite IntegrationsCompatibility with any modern web browser (not just Windows.)and more.Switching From Fast CompanyAthennian adeptly migrates Spreadsheets, PDFs, paper minute books, and all existing data in your current entity management system, including FastCompany.Traditionally, migrating from FastCompany has been especially challenging due to FastCompany’s lack of export functionality. FastCompany prevents data from being available in transferable formats (for example: .csv or .sql) which causes significant obstacles during migration.Fortunately, Athennian has developed a proven methodology for successfully transferring your data from FastCompany to its new home in Athennian. A combination of paralegal support and our best-in-breed machine-learning technology work to extract data from FastCompany’s exported files, regardless of format. Athennian can expertly migrate all data in FastCompany, such as:Entity & compliance detailsAddresses, agents, registrationsBy-laws, articles, governance, etc. Shareholders, share classes, transactions, certificates, etc. Directors, officers, etc. 

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Planning Global Expansion: Rep Office vs. Branch vs. Subsidiary

Your company is growing and the business wants to expand its presence to another country. But before setting up shop, you must make an important decision: what type of legal presence do we want to have? Deciding between a representative office, a branch, or a subsidiary has significant consequences related to taxation, liability, compliance, and operating costs. Each country is unique. For example, setting up in France requires a very different approach than in Brazil. You must take into account politics, culture, legal system, tax, etc. This article provides a summation of each consideration and the pros and cons for these types of presence. Representative Office A representative office (RO) is the simplest but most limited form of business establishment in a country. It is essentially a beachhead. ROs generally need to be registered with the local government and are typically limited from generating revenue. However, they usually can have employees in the country. ROs can be used to evaluate a market before full commercial entry or to support business partners in the jurisdiction. The tax obligations of ROs are typically limited to employee withholding and payroll taxes. Uses for ROs:market research and testingnegotiating with local companiesdistributing products or services through local distributorspromoting products or services without doing direct business activities and profit generationBranch OfficeOn the other hand, a Branch Office (BO) is a direct extension of an existing legal entity in the company group into a new country. This is typically achieved via registering or qualifying a foreign entity in another country. BOs are designed to generate revenue and operate production facilities in a country. However, a BO is not a distinct legal entity from the parent company and does not offer the benefits of parental asset liability protection. BOs often are subject to a 20% withholding tax. Subsidiary Entity A subsidiary entity is more complex than a RO or BO. It is a separate legal entity formed in the target country. The definition of a subsidiary is an entity that the parent owns 50% or more of. If ownership is less than 50%, then the entity is an affiliate of the parent where the parent is a minority shareholder. The main reason for using a subsidiary rather than a BO is maintaining corporate separateness from the parent. This enables businesses to isolate risk exposure to the amount of capital investment the parent has made in the subsidiary. The legal concept is that each corporation has a unique identity, and parents should not be de facto held liable for subsidiary liabilities (similar to how the parents of natural persons are not usually held liable for the activities of their children). Read this article for more information on the role of subsidiary management in limiting parent liability. However, another advantage of using a subsidiary is to access the tax laws of the country where it is domiciled. The target country may have tax laws that are advantageous to the planned business activities that may improve overall business profitability. Comparing Branch Offices vs. Subsidiary EntitiesExample of Branch Office vs. SubsidiaryCompany X, Inc. is a fast-growing technology company based in the United States. It is seeing an increase in demand from Brazil and wants to establish a sales office there to acquire Brazilian customers faster. A decision is made to open an office in Sao Paulo. They decide to form a subsidiary Company X, SA (an SA is the Brazilian equivalent of a corporation). Despite the Brazilian subsidiary being controlled by the US parent Company X, Inc., it is subject to Brazilian taxation and laws. The parent owes no taxes to Brazil, and the subsidiary owes no taxes to the United States. Company X, Inc. is also protected from liabilities that Company X, SA may incur from activities in Brazil. If Company X had decided to open a Branch Office in Brazil, any income earned in Brazil would be subject to US taxes. Any liabilities incurred in Brazil would be attached to Company X. Is Opening a Branch Easier Than Opening a Subsidiary? Not necessarily. Like a legal entity, branches must also be registered with the local commercial register of the government. Some annual corporate formalities may not be needed, but other accounting and regulatory requirements must typically still be employed. Often branches are used for very limited scope or temporary activities. Effective Management Branches and Subsidiaries Staying in control of international Branches Offices and Subsidiary Entities is a substantial amount of work and complexity. ‍In a recent survey by EY, 89% of legal department leaders reported significant challenges with legal entity management giving them concerns about being deal ready. ‍Download our ebook Best Practices in Corporate Subsidiary Management for more information on effective strategies and frameworks to stay in control of your entity structure. 

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Best Practices for Digitizing Your Minute Books

As a corporate legal professional, you know that organized and accessible minute books are the foundation for an effective legal team. Having proper maintenance and timely filings is integral to efficient processes, enhanced client communication, and productive workflows.The Canadian Legal Innovation Forum, in partnership with Athennian, hosted a webinar on digital minute books which outlined best practices for making the switch from paper, ranging from technical advice to tips for company alignment.Why Digitize?The pressure to move toward digital minute books has increased tremendously in the past two years due to the sudden shift to remote work. However, even before this change, legal professionals were striving toward technological solutions to manage their data.Firstly, paper minute books can be voluminous and take up valuable in-office space, causing many law firms to look for off-site housing. In addition, with “at-your-fingertips” as the accessibility standard in all other departments, legal teams were finding it hard to keep pace when collaborating involved moving manual documents from law firm to client and back. Today’s Digital Minute BooksUntil recently, a digital minute book meant a scanned copy of a paper source of truth, which was significantly easier to manage than hard copies, but still required the constant toggle between paper and computer with paraprofessionals playing the role of messenger between the two.Today, a digital minute book exceeds those expectations. Converting your paper minute books to the cloud offers the unique benefit of creating a shareable, instantly accessible, and easily maintained single source of truth. When a minute book is designed, altered, and updated through technology, it frees up time and allows for swift and streamlined collaboration. Best PracticesAs outlined in CANLIF’s webinar, the benefits of digital are expansive, but the process of digitizing can be daunting, especially without appropriate planning and change management. Below are some best practices for digitizing your minute books in a way that avoids friction, promotes alignment, and mitigates risk.Clearly Define Your Needs & WantsStart with outlining what your expectations are for an end result. How do you want to share your data? Who do you want to share it with? How will your minute books be organized? What are you hoping to achieve through moving to digital?These fundamental questions will help frame your strategy and keep your team aligned to the same goal throughout the project. Foster a Supportive EnvironmentJust like in any business process, company-wide alignment is critical. It can be helpful to create a committee of people from each department who can serve as support touchpoints during the entire digitization process from research to implementation. This ensures quality control, managed expectations, and a transparent chain of command for questions and concerns. In addition to internal support, ensure that your project’s positioning is optimistic and firm when discussing it with clients. Open communication and well-defined benefits can be crucial for assuaging external hesitation.Create A Detailed Chain of CustodyWhen moving your minute books, outline each document’s journey from start to finish, especially if your migration process requires the use of a trusted outside scanning vendor. Detailing exactly where your minute book will be, how long it is expected to be there, who is responsible for it at that location, and who is responsible for the transition to the following location eases pressure and creates transparency.Design a Plan for the FutureApproach your plan for your fully digital minute books with the same attention as your migration plan. Define naming and template standards, and specify your protocol for sharing the virtual data with each client. How much access will they have to their minute book in practice? How much time should a client expect before seeing data changes? Trust the ExpertsFind a platform that understands the unique complexities in entity data and minute book migration. Ensure that their team fully understands the labyrinth of formats, and organizational challenges, that make this process intimidating. Choose a specialized migration team, like Athennian’s, that is dedicated to a secure and seamless transition to digital. 

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Best Practices for Corporate Subsidiary Management

Corporate entity information is critical data that underpins nearly every business process. Maintaining and operationalizing this data for several different strategic purposes is a large part of today’s legal landscape.However, as recently reported by EY, 89% of legal department leads face substantial challenges with their entity management, causing significant concerns about their deal readiness. Transactions get delayed because subsidiaries aren’t in good standing, have outdated appointee records, or encounter other administrative friction. The Importance of Subsidiary ManagementThe fundamental reasons for creating subsidiary entities are:Establishing a presence in a new jurisdiction (having a bank account, employees, tax IDs, contracting, etc.)Protecting a parent company’s assets from liability for actions of a subsidiary company that it owns (“piercing the corporate veil”.)Being transaction ready to support friction on financings, M&A integration, divestitures, re-organizations, IPOs, and other important corporate events.Acting as guarantors and grantors of security if the parent company must secure credit financing.The Challenge of Subsidiary ManagementHowever important this data is, it is equally complex to manage. Often, entity management is a shared responsibility between legal tax and finance departments, causing communication gaps across departments. Collaboration between multiple teams is usually a substantial challenge for most large organizations that leads to friction around ownership and responsibility.Systematic entity management maintenance is also hindered by outdated technology. 96% of legal departments report issues with their legal entity management software. 72% find it difficult to keep systems updated and 62% found it challenging to track governance activity statuses.In addition, many organizations tend to naturally leverage a decentralized mesh of law firms by managing entities for basic statutory compliance. This model can create coordination and cost management challenges. Currently, 47% of legal departments currently operate in this decentralized model.Best Practice: Creating a FrameworkCompanies with advanced entity management functions align on an established and common framework for their entities, whether documented in a playbook, SLA, or Subsidiary Governance Framework. These systems establish a consistent approach for governance and set minimum standards for activities such as:Subsidiary to parent reporting content and cadence.Financial and regulatory controls.Guidance about formation, composition of subsidiary boards, appointment and termination of directors, onboarding, and training.Guidance on how to conduct subsidiary board meetings and record minutes.Procedures for incumbency and secretary’s certificates, powers of attorney, notarizations, and apostilles.Subsidiary director and officer training, indemnification, and signing authority.Compliance monitoring programs to ensure the framework requirements are appropriately satisfied.For more best practices and an in-depth overview of Subsidiary Governance Frameworks (with examples), you can access Athennian’s free eBook, "Best Practices in Subsidiary Management."

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I Say Law Clerk, You Say Paralegal, Who’s Right? It Depends.

When sharing that you are studying to become a law clerk in Ontario, people often feign understanding, pause, and then immediately ask, ‘what exactly is a law clerk?’ As recent law clerk graduates, it’s a question that we have answered more times than we care to count and expect to continue answering throughout our careers as it has become apparent that few outside the profession understand what it means to be a law clerk in Ontario. For those with some exposure to the legal profession, one way to answer their query is replying that, ‘it is like a paralegal…’ which is often accompanied by nods of understanding. However, this paralegal reference does not typically bring clarity for people unfamiliar with the inner workings of the legal profession and may raise additional questions. At its simplest, a law clerk and a paralegal are titles used in Ontario for two separate and distinct roles within the legal field that serve different purposes but ultimately provide various forms of legal support for clients. However, that explanation does not address the fact that the term ‘paralegal’ means law clerk throughout the rest of Canada and the law clerk title refers to an entirely different role in the US. To help shed some light on the lack of understanding and confusion, we are going to explore the definition of a law clerk, how to attain the appropriate qualifications and similarly, what a paralegal is in Ontario and how that term is applied throughout the rest of Canada. The Evolution of Law Clerks and Paralegals in OntarioTo better understand what we mean by a law clerk and a paralegal, we’ll first examine how the professions evolved in Ontario. Let’s start with the official definition of a law clerk provided by the Institute of Law Clerks of Ontario (ILCO), a professional association incorporated in May 1968, providing continuing education, fellowship and networking for its members. ILCO defines law clerks as “a person, qualified through education, training or work experience, who is employed ... under the ultimate direction and guidance of a Lawyer ... [doing work of an] administrative or managerial nature, and/or of specifically-delegated substantive legal work which requires a sufficient knowledge of legal concepts that in the absence of a law clerk the Lawyer would perform.” In 1968, the Upper Canada Law Society (or Law Society of Ontario) established the term ‘law clerk’ and permitted the use of the title to those who fit the definition provided by ILCO. In this profession, there are a range of career options available, such as through large and small private law firms, in-house corporate legal departments, financial institutions, court and registry offices, legal software companies and more. According to the Ontario Paralegal Association, paralegals started off in Ontario in the 1980s as ‘agents at court’ representing people in provincial courts for traffic offenses, the Small Claims Court, Family Court, and various tribunals. The Law Society of Ontario (LSO) sought to regulate these agents who, at first, they did not recognize as legitimate legal practitioners. Eventually, the Access to Justice Act was passed and the LSO started issuing licenses to paralegals in 2008. In accordance with current LSO regulations, paralegals may represent individuals in Small Claims Court lawsuits (up to $35,000), provincial offenses, statutory accident benefit claims, hearings before administrative tribunals and boards (such as the Landlord and Tenant Board and the Human Rights Tribunal), and in certain criminal offenses (such as assault and harassment). This makes access to justice more affordable for millions of Canadians who might not seek justice due to the expense of a lawyer.Education and Training In terms of education and training, prospective law clerks can attend a program offered at an accredited learning institute that is typically two years in length and is available for students right out of high school, or take courses through ILCO, if they have attained some experience in the legal profession. If the college route is taken, certain institutions such as Seneca College offer an accelerated option, allowing students with some post secondary education to complete the program in one year. Since the authors of this article are all university graduates, we elected to take the accelerated program and were thankful that our previous degrees primed us for the onslaught of lectures, projects and intensive study. Both program streams are designed to prepare students to work under the supervision of a lawyer in a fast-paced legal environment. The main focus of the program is on learning about substantive law, legal principles and ethics, collaborative teamwork and hands-on training to advance technical skills and document drafting that will let the graduated law clerk hit the ground running in the workplace. Since law clerks can support any area of a law practice under a supervising lawyer, the curriculum focuses on different areas of law compared to the paralegal program including real estate law, corporate law, contract and torts, family law, litigation, and wills and estates. In addition, most programs include a field placement to ensure that the graduate will have ‘working’ knowledge and experience so they can easily acclimate into a new place of employment and deliver value day one. Becoming a paralegal involves one more step than a law clerk due to licensing requirements, but first, one must attend an LSO accredited paralegal program which is typically two years in length and hosted by many colleges throughout Ontario. Subjects addressed include small claims court, administrative law, criminal summary convictions, provincial offenses, immigration law, employment law, landlord-tenant law, litigation, and tribunals. Students also learn about advocacy, legal research and writing, ethics, and other skills to help them in starting their own legal services business. All accredited programs offer a field placement which is a requirement of the licensing process. Secondly, they must procure their P1 license governed by the LSO. Steps include applying for registration, paying a fee, and submitting transcripts and proof of field placement completion from an accredited program. Similar to a lawyer, there is a ‘good character requirement’ which is proven through supporting documentation that indicates whether the applicant has been found guilty of or convicted of any offence under any statute, has been discharged from any employment where the employer has alleged that there was cause, misconduct from a post-secondary educational institution, and more criteria as listed on the LSO website. The next step is passing the licensing exam and then a petition must be filed with the LSO to be issued a class P1 license. Career Fit and OpportunityNow that we have defined each profession and associated education, let’s explore the differences between a practicing law clerk and P1 paralegal in terms of career fit and opportunity. We have outlined some personal reasons why someone might choose one rather than the other.We chose the law clerk path for several reasons including:Desire to work in the legal field as an employee in a structured environment without having to start own business;An abundance of employment opportunities suited to both those fresh out of school and for those changing career paths armed with a law clerk diploma;Interest in the areas of law in which law clerks are typically employed; Challenging roles, responsibilities and activities presented in job descriptions; andAbility to leverage skills and knowledge already acquired in previous education and/or professional experience including technical abilities, organizational and interpersonal skills.When asked why they chose a paralegal program, recent graduates cited:An interest in the areas of law that paralegals often enter, such as employment law, disability law, and criminal law; The ability to advocate for their clients in court and tribunals; andAn expressed interest in gaining more exposure to the law and using paralegal studies as a stepping stone towards ultimately becoming a lawyer.Due to their expansive training, law clerks are well suited to find employment in a number of different positions such as corporate law clerk, securities law clerk, real estate law clerk, litigation law clerk, e-discovery law clerk and family law clerk, amongst many other roles. As previously indicated, law clerks work under the supervision of lawyers but they still are responsible for essential tasks with minimum supervision. A well-rounded law clerk will be able to carry out administrative tasks such as organizing meetings and file management to support the department but that is just one part of a varied role. In addition, law clerks attain substantive, specialized knowledge and skills that are required to carry out complex processes and transactions within their given area of law such as drafting motions, maintaining company records, drafting separation agreements or wills and preparing closing documentation for real estate deals. Common areas of responsibility often cited on job descriptions include interviewing clients, preparing documents, performing legal research, drafting legal correspondence, and general duties that help lawyers support their clients. On the other hand, paralegals in Ontario are educated and licensed to provide representation for their clients in areas of law such as immigration and employment law. In terms of career paths, paralegals may become a provincial offences prosecutor, a Small Claims Court legal representative, legal researcher, or may choose to start their own paralegal practice. Paralegals also provide important advocacy services for clients appearing before specialized tribunals such as the Landlord and Tenant Board, and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.Ultimately, if you are trying to decide between a career as a law clerk or a paralegal, a few areas to consider are subject matter, the type of employment you desire, and what type of service you would like to provide. Paralegals and law clerks often go into different areas of law, so deciding what suits your interests is a good first step. Next, decide if you prefer being employed by someone or if you want the ability to start your own business. Lastly, one must consider that the primary role of a paralegal is to provide legal advice and the primary role of a law clerk is to provide a legal service; determine where your comfort levels lie.It is interesting to note that in a LinkedIn search on an incognito browser (read: no history and not logged into an account) the first 75 results after searching ‘law clerk’ in Ontario, produced a full 75 law clerk positions. When conducting the same test for paralegals, only 21% of results produced paralegal positions, with the remaining 79% producing legal assistant and law clerk positions, amongst other titles. At a quick glance, it appears that the demand for law clerks outpaces the current demand for paralegals. Confusion Continues Outside OntarioSo now that we have explored the two distinct roles in Ontario, the real confusion between the two terms begins when we look at the use of these terms in other jurisdictions. What we know as ‘law clerks’ in Ontario are referred to as ‘paralegals’ in the remainder of Canada and the United States, including the French translation ‘parajuriste’ in Québec. In the United States, the term “law clerk” is used but is not employed in the same sense as it is in Ontario. In the United States, a “law clerk” is the same as a judicial clerk. These individuals are either lawyers or recently graduated law students providing legal assistance to judges in court. Hence, there is much confusion surrounding Ontario’s unique use of both the term ‘paralegal’ and ‘law clerk.’ This confusion is heightened by misleading job boards, pop culture, and the lack of conversation surrounding the topic. It is not unheard of to find a posting for a paralegal in Ontario describing the work of a traditional law clerk. The source of this incorrect usage could be the use of the paralegal term in other jurisdictions, but it could also be a result of Ontarians watching popular American television shows such as Suits, where a corporate paralegal is a main character. The way Suits uses the word ‘paralegal’ is correct in their context and Wall Street setting, yet, if the setting was a firm on Bay Street in downtown Toronto, the character would be classified as a corporate law clerk. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the law clerk position and its associated value is not widely known outside of the legal profession and to a certain extent in the legal community. We know that law clerks have a lot to offer, yet, where there is a lack of clarity in the role and general awareness of the profession, there will be a lack of utilization and recognition. To leverage their status within the legal field, law clerks must bring attention to the value they bring to their position by highlighting their knowledge, skills and abilities and distinguish their expertise from P1 paralegals. Becoming a Law ClerkIf this brief glimpse into the world of legal professionals has tweaked your interest and you are contemplating becoming a law clerk like the authors of this article, consider these next steps and the fundamentals that will help lead you to succeed in this growing and dynamic field. Education is first and foremost and you have several options to choose from as discussed above. Make sure to equip yourself with the right tools and technology. At a minimum, become an expert in Microsoft’s productivity suite, and then start building up your legal application experience by learning solutions such as Athennian’s Entity Management to file and maintain corporate records, become efficient in DivorceMate if working in a family law practice or familiarize yourself with Teraview® for managing real estate transactions. It is highly recommended that you become a member of ILCO to grow your network of law clerk peers and potential mentors, and expand your knowledge of the law clerk profession. Hint: You can even join as a student member during your education phase and early years of your career for a special membership fee.We hope this article has helped provide some clarity regarding what the term ‘law clerk’ means in Ontario and other jurisdictions, so the next time someone tells you they are going to school to become a law clerk or states, “I’m a law clerk”, you can nod and smile acknowledging what they do with some level of confidence. ‍About the AuthorsKellie Burdon, Jina Ahmad and Susan Taylor-Kusek are recent graduates of the Seneca Law Clerk (Accelerated) Program in Ontario. They participated in Athennian’s internship program and were provided the opportunity to work as corporate law clerks utilizing Athennian’s Entity Management software to maintain corporate records and build virtual minute books for Canadian and international clients. The authors were collectively referred to as the ‘Seneca Hooterns’.

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Using Technology to Streamline Your Entity Management

‍This article draws from Athennian’s webinar, “How to Streamline Entity Management through Technology.” You can access the video recording and supplemental materials here. Entity management is the practice of keeping a company’s vital information and documents in an orderly system that the organization can track and view, with the goal of keeping entities in compliance. According to research, legal professionals spend only 29% of their day completing advantageous and billable tasks. For the average 8-hour day, that amounts to only 2.3 hours of productive work. The other 71%, according to experienced law clerks, is spent on manual administrative duties due to friction in the entity management process. What Challenges Do Legal Teams Face in Entity Management?Most of the market’s entity management tools on the market were built before the turn of the century, which renders staying abreast of the rapidly-changing industry near impossible. In no other industry do pre-2000 technologies suffice, which explains the severe gap in legal teams productivity.Archaic Tools Pose 3 Major Challenges:1. Lack of Trust in Data‍Legal teams lack trust in the accuracy of their records. Bad data causes operational efficiencies such as poor data entry, duplicate, and invalid data, which can lead to loss in revenue and increased risk.‍2. Compliance Issues Without a change management process to identify and incorporate regulatory and legal changes, legal teams are at a greater risk of financial penalties and reputational damage. Without modern compliance solutions in place, missed deadlines and out-of-date corporate records can occur.‍3. Reporting Is UnreliableIn addition to manual reporting being laborious, it also drastically increases the chances of human error. Entering the wrong information without noticing has a domino effect that can lead teams to make bad decisions that can have a long and lasting impact on the business. How Can Technology Be Leveraged to Streamline Entity Management?A modern, cloud-based, and scalable entity management platform allows for controlled data management through a centralized online workspace. Accuracy, data integrity, and organization are just some of the benefits of a cloud-based single source of truth. Automated reporting eases and expedites the process for annuals, renewals, compliance, and documentation automation, leaving more time for billable tasks. The Benefits of Entity Management SoftwareA modern cloud-based entity management solution offers your team the efficiency and flexibility to thrive in today’s fast-paced legal market. Benefits of Entity Management Technology:Easily share business insights with internal and external teams.Ensure all levels of the organization, including governance, tax, and finance, work together more efficiently and proactively.Remove manual tasks from your workload.Provide up to date, accurate information to your entire team, regardless of where they are, globally.Ensure stakeholders and business decision-makers have the correct data when they need it.For more information on how automation can increase productivity and streamline workflows, download our webinar and supplemental materials here.

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CANLIF Survey Suggests Tech Solutions to Combat Escalating Challenges

Last week the Canadian Legal Innovation Forum (CANLIF) released their first Legal Department Survey, comprised of data from over 80 decision-makers in corporate legal departments. Among those surveyed were general counsel, legal counsel, and legal operations from various industries, including financial services, education, technology, government, and real estate.In general, CANLIF found that legal teams’ primary sources of frustration were burnout, increased workload, and inefficiencies due to lack of innovation.41% of those surveyed reported that their teams have made strengthening their entity management a high priority this year. Still, 38% are finding that they have a hard time assessing the appropriate technology solutions. ‍Those surveyed also reported that the past year has introduced new challenges into their department’s daily workflow and put pressure on concerns that have remained stagnant over years past. ‍Some challenges that legal departments still face are compliance management, contract management, and data governance. Meanwhile, the sudden shift to remote work has integrated new frustrations, such as data management (staying on top of everything), data privacy compliance/work from home compliance, and managing growth with limited remote resources. Moreover, many cited that their innovation budgets have either stayed the same or increased minimally. In fact, 59% of those surveyed stated that budget has the most significant impact on innovation. One Senior In-House Lawyer said, “Firms need to recognize the cost pressures, and [. . . ] should only be undertaking work that adds value (i.e., we should be paying for expertise, and not administration).” With money being expensed toward low-level administrative duties, there is little room to focus on the high-value tasks that contribute to growth. ‍This lack of motion in budget increase, coupled with the past year forcing new challenges upon legal departments that are still struggling to combat perpetual problems, new technology solutions are more crucial than ever before. A platform that understands the need for automation and inherently offers the collaboration tools that the market demands are the first step in tackling these concerns. Take a quick product tour to see how Athennian’s efficient and intuitive software can transform your legal department.‍To read the full CANLIF report, click here.

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Legal Paraprofessionals: The Constant Amidst a Changing Market

With clients & internal teams seeking lower costs and higher efficiency, the legal industry has seen a spike in demand for skilled paraprofessionals. This has caused the paraprofessional role to evolve in unprecedented ways. In this post we will discuss: The evolution of the paraprofessional role.Paralegals and Remote Working.How paraprofessionals can manage and thrive amid this changing landscape.What technologies can be leveraged for excellent efficiency?How to adapt to new technology platforms. How Has the Role of the Paraprofessional Evolved?Paraprofessionals are no longer just law clerks, paralegals, legal specialists, or any other non-lawyer professionals who docket their billable hours. They have rapidly evolved to become technology ambassadors, custodians of client relationships, and mentors to the new generation of legal professionals. Today, legal paraprofessionals have the qualifications for early involvement in the decision-making process and the skillset to play a strategic role in growing organizations. Transactional tasks that do not require contextual knowledge are no longer the majority of a paraprofessional's workload. In one of our recent polls, 71% of paraprofessionals said they were involved in decisions relating to their role. Still, 21% are left out of the decision-making process. Type image caption here (optional)No longer do paraprofessionals play an ancillary role. As companies become more client-focused, paraprofessionals and their long-standing relationship with the clients are more important than ever. Additionally, as experts in technical procedures, their job as mentors to early-career paraprofessionals is crucial.How the Shift to Remote Work Has Impacted Firms and Working Relationships for Paraprofessionals The shift to remote work has accelerated what was already afoot in the industry, hastening the rate at which legal organizations are going digital. In another recent poll conducted during the Optimizing Paraprofessional Workflows to Help Law Firms Gain Competitive Advantage webinar, 82% of paraprofessionals reported that the shift to a remote working environment was the biggest change they’d seen at their law firm or legal department.Like most industries, the shift to remote work has forced modifications everywhere, from client relationships to team dynamics. The three main areas that have been impacted by remote work are: 1. The Transition from Paper Intensive to Paperless: Historically, law firms and legal departments were ill-equipped for remote work. Taking “work home” meant the paraprofessional became the sole custodian of the physical file with no ability to collaborate. But 2020 empowered companies to go paperless, adopt e-filing, and use digital signatures rather than lengthy back-and-forth email correspondences. Adopting these changes enabled the most seamless transition from the office to the home. 2. Team Collaboration:Technology has not just eased the transition for processes but also has aided interpersonal work relationships. Paraprofessionals are learning new ways to connect online, such as Zoom calls or online webinars and networking events.Favorite tips for collaboration (suggested by a recent panel of esteemed paraprofessionals) include: It’s helpful when lawyers include paraprofessionals on the file as soon as it comes through the door. This fosters team spirit and a feeling of connectedness and ensures a better end result. Upon receiving a file from a lawyer, paraprofessionals can reach out to better understand their colleagues' tone and style of communication. This helps aid the creation of working norms and mutual understandings for the team across a range of simultaneous channels of communication—from calls, online meetings, emails, messaging platforms and more.3. Creating Work/Life Balance in a Remote WorldThe changing role of the paraprofessionals, coupled with the new virtual working environment, has blurred the lines between professional and personal life, challenging the way we manage our time and schedules. Some suggestions made by our panelists during “The Remote World’s Reality: Connected or Micromanaged?” were:Be sensitive to everyone’s remote working situation; not everyone is comfortable being on video. Set aside time blocks dedicated to certain projects. This helps you to stay accountable and manage your time.Schedule your emails, messages to sync with working hours. Be cognizant of the fact that people have different work schedules, and communications sent outside of normal working hours can cause unnecessary anxiety in recipients. How Paraprofessionals Can Manage and Thrive Amid This Changing LandscapeAdapting to new environments can be tedious without a plan. Paraprofessionals can adopt the following practices suggested by experts in the legal industry. Organize your calendar by asking yourself these questions:How much time am I spending in meetings versus how much focus time do I have?How many projects/files am I currently working on? What time commitment is required for each one?Who am I working with, and what is their working style? How can I organize myself to optimize both our time together? What other requests do I have coming my way? If you see an unexpected influx of requests coming in and are struggling to complete everything on your to-do list, follow these three steps:Determine: What exactly is this person asking for?Dismantle: Is this a high-priority-high-impact request? How does this rank against other projects I am working on?Diffuse/Delegate: Am I the only person who is capable of helping the requestor? No- Who can I direct them to the right resource? Yes- What is the latest by when I can get this done? Does it have to be today? If you have a small team and can’t delegate requests to other team members, learn the personality type of the requestor and communicate with them in a way that helps them understand your current priorities and workload. Leveraging Technology As the laundry list of requests and responsibilities increases, paraprofessionals find themselves relying more on technological solutions to manage their day. Some of the technologies that have witnessed massive adoption are:ITimekeep for legal assistance used for scheduling DocusignCloud-based-Certalized Entity Management platforms like AthennianWebex teams Microsoft teams for CollaborationAI & E-discovery: E-discovery is at the forefront of the technology landscape because a linear review of cases is a thing of the past.RPA: Removes a lot of mundane work and lets automation take away that burden. As the tech stack expands, so does the amount of accessible client data. As technology ambassadors, paraprofessionals become custodians of this vast amount of valuable data. Managing and Learning New Technology PlatformsWhile some paraprofessionals are comfortable with new platforms and technology, others may find it daunting. Below is a guide for utilizing these new technology solutions to feel empowered and not overwhelmed. The first step to being an effective technology ambassador is acknowledging that there is a wide variety of solutions in the market. The sheer list and number of options available can be overwhelming. Moreover, evaluating each technology to find the best fit is tedious, given its massive impact on business. Determine the “Why”First, determine the need for new technology. Technical market offerings help solve the issue of “How” in a process, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the “why.” “Why are we using this technology, and how does it align with our business goals?”Determining the answer to this question is often a group activity involving other teams and decision-makers. To ensure the success of this exercise, follow the steps listed below:Identify and Include all key stakeholders in the decision-making process.Collect different use cases for the technology in question.Build a business case with real tangible results.Have A Plan for Implementation As organizations realize the importance of technology, they increasingly spend more on its implementation. In the past, paraprofessionals were expected to implement all the software from the sidelines. In the present day, it is a collaborative effort of the paraprofessional and IT teams. Paraprofessionals are often evaluating, recommending and implementing new technologies for their firms & teams.A major component of the implementation plan is dealing with resistance from teams. Learning new technology is a significant challenge, and the fear of the unknown can cause friction among the teams. It is vital to:Set an implementation plan with a defined timeline that factors in the onboarding process. Consider everyone’s learning style while developing a communication and learning plan. We need to involve paraprofessionals in design thinking and demos, as well as using them as SMEs. Identify the stakeholders and keep them informed about the process. Create content and learning material to match various learning styles (e.g.,instructor-led training, convention labs, working sessions, simulations, cheat sheets, workbooks, manuals, etc.). In conclusion, A strong onboarding plan and open communication between teams can bolster the adoption of new technologies and ultimately make organizations more efficient. ConclusionThe landscape of the legal industry is changing, and paraprofessionals are at the forefront of this evolution. Organizations are starting to recognize the true value of paraprofessionals and are striving to use their qualifications and expertise in new ways. As a result, they are included in buying decisions and strategic conversations much earlier than they historically were. In the future, paraprofessionals will seek more training in legal operations and project management as they develop their careers. Technology vendors can be valuable partners for paraprofessionals to further this training and skill development.

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Legal Technology Round-Up

Historically, legal departments have been resistant to technological change, leaning on the long-standing motto: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, the economic transformation over the past year has shown us that the motto should actually read: “if it ain’t broke yet, it might break soon, and your business will fall behind because of it.”With the pandemic changing how we work, legal departments have seen a spike in technology spending, finding solutions that not only fix unforeseen problems but make day-to-day operations function efficiently and without friction. This article rounds up the best sources on tech trends, the most accurate statistics for upcoming changes, and critical thoughts on the future of legal technology. 5 Legal Technology Trends Changing In-House Legal Departments | GartnerThis article, derived from Gartner’s 21 Corporate Legal Tech Predictions Webinar, discusses five key statistics for the future of legal technology. It includes predictions on legal tech spending, which will be up threefold by 2024, and the future of legal team staffing. Gartner predicts that because of the pressing need to maximize lawyer’s skills and expertise, 20% of roles will be filled by non-lawyer candidates. “Advancing key improvement and innovation efforts will likely require a different set of skills or perspectives than those typically groomed in a traditional legal education.”The survey also predicts that by 2024, 50% of the corporate transaction workload will be automated. Further, the same study but from 2 years prior finds that 55% of the legal workload can be automated, leaving only a 5% gap for inefficiencies. With this shift toward automation, legal teams are leaving time-consuming administrative duties behind to focus on high-value and billable tasks.Contract, Document Management Top Legal’s Priorities as Tech Spending Ramps Up | Law.comLaw.com’s analysis on the Wolters Kluwer 2021 Future Ready Lawyer Report finds that 57% of legal professionals plan to increase their tech investments in the next three years (up 6% from last year.) This increase is unprecedented, as legal teams are notorious for slow technological changes. In fact, 78% of the 700 surveyed plan to adopt collaboration tools, and 77% plan to employ automated contract drafting solutions. Adopting both solutions makes communication between parties more efficient and allows legal teams to use their skills on high-value tasks rather than day-to-day minutiae. Moreover, 81% of those surveyed will invest in E-signature solutions, which is a significant way to increase efficiency and maintain security. 2021 Future Ready Lawyer Survey | Wolters KluwerWolters Kluwer offers their own summary on the 2021 Future Ready Lawyer Survey, which provides insight on client-firm relationships. With corporate legal departments turning to tech solutions, law firms are compelled to do the same. Wolters Kluwer reports that 91% of legal departments intend on asking prospective firms about their use of technology in the next three years. 78% will expect their employed law firms to use technological solutions to deliver the best service possible, and 76% expect their firms to increase efficiency and productivity through these solutions. 24% of legal teams are prepared to switch firms based on their current expectations.ABA 2020 Legal Technology Report | Law Technology Today The American Bar Association’s 2020 Tech Report provides an analysis of the for purchase, ABA 2020 Legal Technology Report. Included in this report are statistics gathered from attorneys who, at majority, hail from small firms (under 50 attorneys) and who, on average, have been admitted to the bar for 30 years. ABA reports that 62% already budget for technology, with a direct correlation to firm size––the larger the firm, the more likely they are to employ technology solutions. It also reports that only 7% found that technology problems often impact their productivity. Most legal technology is outdated, fragmented, and lacks an intuitive interface. Athennian, with its user-friendly platform and expert engineering, offers the best-in-class solutions for those affected by technology problems.Will Lawyers Use Technology Differently After the Pandemic? Survey Says Maybe | Above the LawAbove the Law offers insight on a recently released report by American Legal Net (a survey based on interviews with attorneys from large-scale legal firms). ALN reports that almost 50% of those surveyed found that a year of remote work did not impact their yearly profits. “[The] feared drop in productivity never materialized … By June [of 2020], we realized that we had not slowed down as much as I thought, and by September or October, we realized that we were actually having a pretty good year....”- Attorney interviewed by ALN ‍79% reported using technology to aid the shift to remote operations, and 64% are considering upgrading their technology based on their experiences during the pandemic. Notably, 52% have allotted a higher technology budget already. In SummaryThe legal industry, just like the rest of the world, is changing––rapidly. With new technological solutions emerging, and the attitudes toward them transforming, it can quickly feel daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. Athennian makes migration easy––take the first step to enhancing your team’s productivity by contacting Athennian for a demo. 

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Three Models for GCs to Outsource Legal Entity Management

83% of General Counsel report mandates to reduce spend on outside vendors in 2021. These directives are causing legal departments to look at subsidiary entity management as an area to increase efficiency.The complexity and effort to maintain global subsidiary entities that are in “good standing” and “deal ready” becomes significant as the corporate structure grows and expands across borders.There are three main configurations that legal departments use to manage their subsidiary entities: direct manage, partially outsourced, or fully outsourced. The appropriate configuration depends largely on the volume and complexity of your corporate structure. Regardless of the service delivery model your organization proceeds with, the key to a successful entity management program is alignment and adoption of the entity management software platform by your internal legal, tax, and finance teams. ‍According to a recent EY report, 96% of legal departments report issues with their legal entity management software. 72% find it difficult to keep systems updated, and 62% found it challenging to track governance activity statuses. ‍‍These issues arise from two related challenges: “ineffective implementation and an organization’s dependency on older systems [Diligent Entities, GEMS, Secretariat, hCue, EnGlobe, etc.] that lack the user interaction and interface of modern technology.”Most legal entity management software installed in large legal departments was built in the 1990s and suffers from poor user experience and data architecture that creates friction into user adoption. Indeed, James Stantonian, a leading user experience designer, provided an eye-opening review of the realities of using outdated entity management software:‍We also learned that the system [Diligent Entities, formerly Blueprint] was so complex (a product of its meandering and ad-hoc development) that administrators were afraid of letting people add or edit data for fear it would compromise it, and thus became human bottlenecks.‍Learn more about how Athennian can help you scale business entity management? Book a demo here. 

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Three Reasons Why Legal Entity Management is Often Out of Control 

‍In a recent survey by EY, 89% of legal department leaders reported substantial challenges with legal entity management giving them concerns about being deal ready.There are typically three reasons why the management of legal entities is a cause of concern for legal, finance and tax leaders.‍‍Entity Management is often a “shared responsibility” Legal entity management tends to be a “shared responsibility” between legal, tax and finance departments. 76% of legal departments surveyed reported having five or fewer employees focused on entity management. However, 73% reported leveraging finance departments and 53% reported utilizing the tax departments in the entity management process. Cross-departmental collaboration is usually a substantial challenge for most large organizations that leads to friction around ownership and responsibility. ‍‍‍‍ Outdated legacy legal entity management software‍A whopping 96% of legal departments report issues with their legal entity management software. 72% find it difficult to keep systems updated and 62% found it challenging to track governance activity statuses. According to EY, these issues arise from two related challenges: “ineffective implementation and an organization’s dependency on older systems [Diligent Entities, GEMS, Secretariat, hCue, EnGlobe, etc.] that lack the user interaction and interface of modern technology.”Most legal entity management software installed in large legal departments was built in the 1990s and suffers from poor user experience and data architecture that create friction to user adoption. Indeed, James Stantonian, a leading user experience designer, provided an eye-opening review of the realities of using outdated entity management software:We also learned that the system [Diligent Entities, formerly Blueprint] was so complex - a product of its meandering and ad-hoc development - that administrators were afraid of letting people add or edit data for fear it would compromise it, and thus became human bottlenecks.‍‍ No centralized management of local service providers As companies grow, they tend to naturally leverage a decentralized mesh of law firms by managing entities for basic statutory compliance at fees up to $5,000 per entity per year. This model can create coordination and cost management challenges. Currently, 47% of legal departments currently operate in this decentralized model. However, 57% of multinationals reported that they are considering moving to a centralized model where a single alternative legal service provider provides a global solution. ‍‍‍Three Steps to Mature Your Legal Entity Management Function Organizations with mature legal entity management functions have executed three initiatives to go from out of control to under control: Alignment with legal, tax and finance. Creating organizational alignment on responsibilities, tasks, reporting, and ownership of the different elements of entity management is critical to avoiding tasks from “falling through the cracks”. Organizations with mature entity management functions have established playbooks and SLAs between tax, legal, and finance across regions for the universe of core and also related areas such as transfer pricing. ‍Use modern entity management technology. A cloud-based legal entity management platform with modern user experience design standards drives adoption across the organization. This adoption results in reduced risk and agility to be deal ready. ‍Centralize entity management coordination. Whether building internal capability or engaging an outsourced service provider, making an investment in centralizing the coordination of local service providers in your global regions will assist with data quality and cost controls from outside law firms. ‍Learn more about how Athennian can help you scale business entity management? Book a demo here.All figures in this article are from: https://www.ey.com/en_gl/law/the-general-counsel-imperative-how-can-you-evolve-entity-management-into-effective-governance

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The War for Corporate Minute Books: Why Legal Disruptors Want to Manage Thousands of Business Entities

LegalZoom recently filed its S-1 to list publicly on the NASDAQ at a $5 billion valuation. The first metrics LegalZoom referenced to describe the scale of its opportunity to disrupt legal services was that it had “formed 10% of all new LLCs and helped incorporate 5% of all new corporations in the United States” in 2020 and had over one million registered agent units under subscription. Across the globe, direct-to-business products are growing automated digital services for business entity formation and lifecycle management. Sleek in Asia Pacific, SeedLegals in the UK, and Ownr in Canada are a few examples of quickly growing companies. In the mid-market and enterprise, the Big Four and alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) are all scaling up business lines to help legal departments form and manage subsidiary entities worldwide. EY recently launched its own entity management workflow software.Modern law firms are getting in on the action as well. Athennian enables hundreds of ambitious law firms in the US, Canada, and internationally to provide scalable business entity management services to their client base. These services become valuable recurring revenue streams for law firms. ‍Why Business Entity Data is Strategic to the Future of Business Law‍In 2017, The Economist magazine observed that “data is the new oil”. The winner in any market can be easily predicted by one question: Who controls the most fundamental data about the customer that can be used to service future consumption? In the market for business legal services, data related to the identity, ownership, and control of a business entity is fundamental to the majority of high value legal services such as tax and estate planning, financing transactions, M&A, commercial arrangements, and more. In fact, the average entity profile in Athennian has 1,972 data points, excluding documents. If as a partner, you have 30 corporate clients and each client has three entities related to their business, that is 177,480 points of data such as stock certificate numbers, transaction dates, and even the email address for the CFO. Law firms use Athennian to leverage this data for online client portals and to automate documents such as board consents, shareholder resolutions, corporate structure charts, and stock certificates. ‍The Four Categories of Strategic Value‍The strategic value of managing business entity data can be broken into four categories: It integrates lawyers into routine business events. Business entity data is needed frequently for tax, accounting, HR, financial, and banking purposes. For example, accountants often request stock certificates, issued and outstanding shares, and other data for tax planning. Banks typically request certificates of good standing or certificates of incorporation to open accounts and credit for the business. If clients can access this data on-demand from a law firm branded online platform, it allows your firm to add more valuable touch points to your client’s business at scale. The annual compliance events create recurring engagement. Traditional legal services are transactional. A litigation, commercial, or corporate matter opens and then closes. When (or if) a matter will occur for a business is unknown. However, all businesses will have at least one legal event per year: the corporate annual report filing, and associated board or shareholder resolutions. The certainty of that annual event creates a recurring client engagement point and a compliance event that can be billed. Having an annual, recurring engagement and invoice reduces client churn and leads to more legal matters. It generates subscription revenue. Subscription revenue is far more valuable than transactional revenue because it compounds and is more forecastable. That’s why public markets value subscription businesses twice that of transactional businesses. With only 8% of law firms in the United States offering subscription based legal services, the opportunity is enormous. However, people only buy subscriptions if they will engage with the service on a regular basis. Since business entity management is an annual service, it provides the foundational engagement to offer additional services within a subscription. Acting as registered agent enables proactive advice. When a law firm acts as registered agent or coordinates registered agent for a business entity, all official notices are delivered to that firm. Being first to receive documents related to litigation, tax, licenses, garnishments, and IP, enables the firm to proactively advise clients on next steps rather than waiting for clients to request advice on documents they have received. This dynamic can generate substantial new matter revenue over time. What is the Law Firm Business Model for Entity Management Services? The model is simple and highly scalable. Using Athennian, one paralegal can manage annual compliance (annual report filed, annual resolutions/minutes) and keep data accurate for 250 domestic entities. Law firms using Athennian typically charge clients $500 to $1,500 per entity per year depending on region and client size. These figures generate a range of top-line revenue between $125,000 to $375,000 per paralegal FTE. Average compensation for paralegals in the US is $51,740 (2019). With an additional 20% for overhead, that is $62,088 per year or 49.6% net margins assuming the low-end of $125,000 for 250 entities at $500 per entity. As you scale, the numbers become very attractive and economies of scale compound. Taking a step back, the business case is incredibly strong for ambitious law firms. The firm is activating a high margin, recurring revenue stream that leads to greater engagement with clients. An additional benefit is the firm is being paid to improve knowledge management. The client is paying for the firm to organize and structure the data of their business entities and structures. This enables firms to always be “deal ready” with accurate, organized client information at hand. Learn more about how Athennian can help you scale business entity management? Book a demo here. 

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EY Data Suggests Best-In-Breed Technology for Entity Management

The legal industry is changing, and with that comes the immediate need to abandon outdated and counterproductive practices. EY research published this month found that almost 90% of companies report challenges managing their legal entity data.Too Many People Report Challenges with Entity ManagementUsing multiple providers to manage your entities leaves significant cracks to fall through. EY reports that 87% of General Counsel spend more time than necessary on repetitive tasks related to compliance and entity management, which significantly impacts business. Issues in data management alter the hierarchy of priorities and leave little time for non-administrative tasks.And, of the 65% of legal teams who use a single-provider entity management systems are‍96% of report challenges, most likely due to outdated technology and clunky user interfaces.96% is too much–it's time to switch to an intuitive entity management system that understands your needs and mitigates the stress of day-to-day operations. In fact, EY recommends best-in-class technology and a dedicated support team of experts to reduce your organization's risk exposure and maximize operational efficiency.Escape These Statistics with AthennianAthennian understands your immediate needs, provides a structured methodology for organizing your intuitive, secure data, and leaves room for essential business operations. Get started with a demo today.Key Statistics Reported by EY:"87% of General Counsel report their department spends too much time on repetitive tasks such as legal entity compliance." "89% of companies report facing challenges in managing their legal entities.""96% currently report challenges with their systems.""Two-thirds of organizations use multiple providers to manage their legal entities, which can lead to increased costs and lack of consistency."‍

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Are Legal Tech & Operations Increasing Demand for Paralegals?

As the role of legal technology and operations has grown in recent years, legal departments and law firms are increasingly seeking to standardize and automate their processes. With venture capital investment into legal tech breaking $1.2 billion in 2019, we wanted to understand how these changes are impacting talent markets in the legal industry. Since paralegals have historically been responsible for administrating important processes in law firms and legal departments and have leveraged technology to do so, paralegals seem to be an important talent pool in the legal operations market. Is the adoption of legal technology and legal operations systems increasing the demand for paralegals in the U.S.?What’s the employment profile of a paralegal in the U.S.?Before we get into our analysis, we want to provide a brief economic overview of the paralegal profession. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, there are 309,940 paralegals and legal assistants employed in the U.S. as of 2018 with an average income of $50,940. The top 10% of paralegals earn $82,050 on average.The top five paying states for paralegals are Washington D.C. ($80,470), Connecticut ($62,760), California ($61,240), Washington ($60,940), and Massachusetts ($60,320).Historical Demand for ParalegalsTo understand the historical employment trends for paralegals, we analyzed Occupational Employment Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics between the years 2000 and 2018. We wanted to understand the paralegals in the broader context of legal services and labor market dynamics, so we also extracted data for employment demand for lawyers. Between 2000 and 2018, the average demand for paralegals (2.96%) grew at twice the rate of lawyers (1.49%). We can see from the below chart that paralegals are hit harder during significant economic downturns than lawyers, with 5,100 paralegals losing their jobs during the 2008 recession compared to relatively flat lawyer employment in the same period. Projected Demand for ParalegalsBetween 2016 and 2026, the U.S. Department of Labor is projecting that demand for paralegals will increase at twice the rate of lawyers resulting in an increase of 41,800 new paralegals added by 2026 for a total of 351,740. It appears that the legal technology and operations movement that started in the years following the 2008 recession is not materially increasing demand for paralegals at a faster rate than lawyers. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor is projecting a slowing demand for both lawyers and paralegals to 2026. In the previous ten-year period prior to the 2016–2026 projection, the number of employed paralegals increased by 23.59%, and the number of employed lawyers increased by 15.56%, compared to projected increases of 14.60% and 8.20%, respectively. Rather than inflating demand for paralegals, legal technology and legal operations may be empowering paralegals, lawyers, and other legal professionals with better tools and processes to be productive with fewer resources in the delivery of legal services.

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Legal Technology Trends To Inspire Your Department Roadmap

In this blog post, we’ll explore 4 legal tech trends to show leaders where to capitalize on legal tech investments, to optimize performance and drive business outcomes.Legal departments have a history of resistance to automation, but the impact of the pandemic has forced many legal teams to pursue - or at least consider - different forms of legal technology to optimize business outcomes while working remotely. Technology is the most obvious solution for many departments, but the challenge now is to sort through the noise to decide which technologies will prove successful. “The pressure that the COVID-19 pandemic put on legal departments has certainly been a catalyst for this change,” says Terry Falk, Athennian. “Lawyers are not known for being the first to modernize, but right now, there are limited options. The pandemic has decreased staffing budgets and increased workloads, making legal technology adoption the most obvious choice.”‍Trend #1: By 2024, legal departments will have automated 50% of legal work related to major corporate transactions. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased workloads while simultaneously decreasing staffing budgets. An M&A backlog will still exist as companies recover, and hoping to hire talent to support this is currently not an option for most departments. Despite the hype surrounding the “automation” buzzword, it’s not a leap of faith. According to a 2019 Gartner survey, legal departments reported that 55% of their corporate transaction work could be automated, and a third of it (33%) already was. The key to success is to first identify specific bottlenecks that exist within your workflows, and onboard legal tech to solve those issues with automation rather than deploying the technology first.‍Trend #2: By 2025, legal departments will increase their technology budgets by 300%. ‍Productivity demands have significantly increased due to the pandemic. Legal departments are already thinly stretched, and therefore will be increasing their technology budgets drastically by 2025 in order to automate manual processes that take up time. [2020 Digital Leader Survey].Image via Gartner Legal Function Survey‍Leaders in the legal industry are seeing other departments find success with technology investments. Significant advancements in legal tech such as cloud-based entity management has also been driving this change. Previously, in-house legal departments relied heavily on external law firms to manage their corporate governance. However, advancements in technology have opened the door to a more cost-effective, longer-term solution: bringing the work in-house with the support of modern entity management platforms. ‍Trend #3: In 2021, there will be a shifting focus to optimize Legal Operations Management. As noted above, legal departments are much more empowered and prepared to manage corporate governance in house due to advancements in legal tech. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many in-house teams were trying to manage operations with outdated and ineffective tools such as Excel Spreadsheets and email. Important and sensitive data was being managed with little to no collaboration or sharing abilities, no automation, and no dynamic reporting. Legal documents were being stored in tools such as Dropbox, Sharepoint and Google Drive, increasing risk and making collaboration almost non-existent. For these reasons, in-house legal teams have started and will continue to consolidate and optimize their daily work in a central hub that improves efficiency and automates workflows with modern features such as eSignature, virtual minute books, and task management. By 2025, legal departments will have identified and harnessed the power of technology to streamline their operations management. ‍Trend #4: Introducing the strategic priority of identifying and mitigating risk at the outset.Due to the increasing complexity of compliance and risk mitigation, security and risk management is not something that can be considered after the fact. According to a 2020 Gartner Legal & Compliance Agenda Survey, 44% of respondents reported that proactively addressing risks is a top concern. The survey also reported that most general counsel and legal leaders are struggling to provide fast and efficient service to clients in a “new risk environment, characterized by hybrid operations, remote workforce and emerging uncertainty.”The exponentially changing landscape of the legal industry requires in-house teams to explore concerns rapidly, prioritize work using improved decision making tools, and adapt dynamic skill building with a focus on efficiency and automation. ‍Final thoughtsThe journey to best-in-class is ongoing - there are always opportunities to improve. If you’ve already utilized best practices and actively considered how legal technology may impact your roadmap, then you’re already ahead of the game. At Athennian, we’re happy to help accelerate the initiatives that you may already be pursuing or supplement your current strategic thinking when it comes to digital legal entity management. Let us show you why Athennian’s cloud-based entity management platform is the first choice for in-house legal departments. Book a 30 minute discovery call with our experts. ‍

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6 Practical Benefits Of Automation For Law Firms

The benefits of cloud technology should not be underestimated. Here are a few practical benefits of automation that can help your law firm scale your productivity, without scaling your overhead: Get more done in less time. High on the list of real world benefits of automation, is productivity. Paralegals teams spend far less time preparing and organizing documents when they can click a few buttons and have data auto-populate in a pre-created template. This opens up more time for billable tasks, therefore enhancing profitability. This is particularly important if your law firm is facing pressures to get more done with less resources. Gain a competitive advantage. For law firms, document automation can be a marketing tool. Your clients want to see that their law firm is using innovative technology to do work for them in the most efficient way possible. Your clients need to see how your firm will deliver quality service, with reliable speed. Save money in document creation and processing. Cutting costs is one of the primary reasons why law firms love automation. You don’t have to hire extra paralegals or legal assistants to work through stacks of documents. With automation, law firms also save money on supplies - no more trips to the store to buy paper, files, folders, paper clips, staples, etc. By saving money with document automation, you can invest in other areas of the firm. Enhance quality and accuracy of documents. Copying and pasting data from one spreadsheet to another just won’t cut it. This often results in typos and errors that even the most careful proofreaders may miss, and this has a big impact on compliance and risk. Automation allows documents to be automatically filled with key information, removing manual processes that contribute to data errors. Become more responsive to clients. Another major benefit of automation is the ability to give clients the answers they need quickly. When you’re preparing documents for a client, you can deliver them in a fraction of the time it would have taken using manual methods. A faster and more relevant response means a happier client and more accelerated growth. Standardize document format and content. By creating document templates and having information populate in the appropriate fields, legal teams can easily standardize documentation to improve consistency and efficiency. Business rules and approved language are stored in Athennian and can be easily accessed by team members. This keeps everyone on the same page, and ensures that everyone is working from the same library of documents. Automation frees up time for legal professionals for tasks where their expertise is more valuable, such as developing strategy, providing advice, or completing billable tasks. By eliminating manual processes found in spreadsheets and outdated legal software, teams can get more done in less time. This allows law firms to scale their productivity, without scaling their overhead. Read our Law Firm Use Case to see how law firms take advantage of automation to free up billable hours.

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5 Considerations For Choosing An Entity Management System For Your In House Legal Department

Investing in an entity management platform is the best way to ensure that your team has the features and functionality you need. In-house legal departments that have upgraded to cloud-based entity management platforms such as Athennian have been able to demonstrate value to their organizations and ensure productivity throughout the day. The main pitfall of several entity management systems on the market is that they are fragmented and outdated, and don’t consider the paralegals who dedicate countless hours in those systems every day. With our “new normal” of remote work and the requirement to connect offices across the nation, the best entity management platforms are the ones that understand unique paralegal challenges, and integrate user feedback into the technology. Best practices in entity management include a holistic approach of not only best-in-class technology, but a deep knowledge and understanding of the users. Ask the vendors you speak with how they commit to their users, and assess their expertise in ensuring their solution can adapt to your legal team’s needs over time. Here are 5 things to consider when deciding on an entity management platform to support your in-house legal department. Is the platform flexible enough to scale with your team? The importance of scalability cannot be overlooked when deciding on an entity management platform. If you choose the right entity management platform, you will only have to go through one data migration process, which can be complex. Ensure that the entity management platforms you consider are committed to growth, and have processes in place to adapt to new technology and modern improvements. Another good indicator of scalability is the ability to allow an unlimited number of users. Though data migration can be a time consuming process, when you upgrade to Athennian, the burden is not on your organization. Our team of data specialists have done over 100 migrations in the last year alone, and will migrate your data with minimal disruption. Is the platform supported with measurable ROI? Ultimately, your in-house legal department’s roadmap and any solutions therein, are aimed at cutting costs and ensuring the productivity of your department. Many cloud-based entity management solutions provide cost and time savings which contribute to ROI, however, it’s important to see the social proof. Ask for and read any case studies that relate to your unique situation in order to ensure the platform demonstrates the return on investment you expect. Athennian’s cloud-based platform is proven to save time and streamline processes, allowing your in-house legal team to focus on more value-added tasks. Athennian’s in-house legal department solution helps to reduce outside counsel costs, providing a boost to your bottom line. Is the platform committed to best practices in corporate governance workflows?The systems you consider should be specifically designed for corporate governance and compliance. The entity management platform you choose must have a proven portfolio of supporting teams through formations, mergers and acquisitions, withdrawals and dissolutions, and other corporate actions. These features will optimize your time and costs savings: entity overviews, customizable document templates such as corporate information sheets, visual org charts, virtual minute books, custom reports and other data insights. Ask the vendors you speak with if these features are already established in the platform. Has the platform passed and obtained industry-specific security certifications? Security is fundamental for all legal departments. The information that you manage every day is a valuable and sensitive business asset. Data breaches have significant business and reputational costs, and it is therefore critical to ensure the entity management platforms you consider are held to the highest data standards. ‍Cloud platforms offer the most rigorous security protocols with servers and failsafes tested and certified to the highest standards. Athennian is SOC 2 Type II certified to give General Counsel and other internal clients peace of mind.Does the platform have a reliable and knowledgeable support team? A comprehensive entity management solution should include consultative support from a team of specialists. In-house legal departments have gotten used to the weekly (or even monthly) response times from outdated systems on the market, but you deserve better. Ask the vendors you speak with about their support team, their average response time to requests, and if the specialists that make up the team can understand and support your specific legal requests. ‍The Athennian Customer Success and Support team is staffed with certified paralegals and legal professionals who understand your business challenges. Our unique in-app live chat has an average response time of under 30 minutes. Wrapping Up… This blog post covers the basic areas to consider before you upgrade to a new entity management platform. You may also want to think about whether the platform you choose can integrate with other technologies such as DocuSign, whether it’s cloud-based, or what other functionality is important to your team. Keep in mind that the best entity management platforms on the market today are the ones that understand unique paralegal challenges, and integrate the voice of the paralegal into the technology. ‍Read our In-House Legal Department Use Case to understand why Athennian is the leading choice for modern in-house legal teams across the country. 

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6 Reasons Why Cloud-Based Legal Tech Is A Necessary Next Step

In this digital era where new technological advances are popping up every minute, cloud-based technology is proving to be an essential step for most law firms. Law firms around the world are realizing that the old school option of having programs installed on physical servers is counter-intuitive and poses high security risks for data breaches. If you want to give your law firm a competitive edge over others, here is why cloud-based entity management will be the necessary next step in your corporate roadmap. Cloud-based technology is accessible and available at any time. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that remote work will not be going away any time soon. Even after the pandemic, many law firms will be maintaining remote work in some capacity. The use of cloud-based entity management makes platforms available anywhere, at any time, as long as you have an internet connection. This means that in the future, your law firm will be able to scale regardless of where your paralegal team needs to work from. Data can be shared easily between nation-wide teams, improving collaboration and allowing one platform to be a “single source of truth”. Data is secure and retrievable. It would be a disaster if you lost client data because of a server failure or computer breakdown. This happens more often than you think; on-premise entity management platforms run off of a physical server, and are therefore more prone to data loss and security breaches. Cloud-based technology however, is held to extremely high security standards. Entity management platforms like Athennian have greater investments in security infrastructure, real-time threat detection, and proven methods to migrate data securely. Athennian is SOC 2 Type II certified to give your law firm, and therefore your clients, peace of mind.Cloud-based technology is cost-efficient. Law firms like yours have already jumped at the opportunity to better economize entity management, because that means more profit. The use of cloud-based legal technology minimizes the capital expenditure of law firms, because it is no longer essential to spend the majority of IT budgets on hardware and maintenance. Law firms are also able to better package entity management services due to Athennian’s ‘per active entity’ pricing structure.Frequent and automated software updates.Software updates, and the associated downtime, is annoying. They are even more annoying for law firms using outdated entity management solutions because valuable time is lost while the update is taking place. Further, it is rare that outdated entity management solutions even have regular updates. A lot of them were built in the 90s’, and haven’t been touched since then. Cloud-based entity management is updated automatically and frequently, saving your law firm time and ensuring that your team is working off of an optimized tool. Athennian is automatically updated every week with bug fixes and features based on user experience and feedback. Cloud-based entity management is scalable. This goes hand in hand with #4, above. Cloud-based entity management can grow with your law firm, in a way that on-premise software just can’t. For example, you can create and auto-populate document templates with 1 click, pull reports based on large sets of data in seconds, add unlimited users, easily create new entities, and manage data seamlessly. Outdated software does not let you have this kind of control, therefore stifling your law firms’ growth. It might be required soon. For industries that are heavily regulated by the government, the cloud could soon become a requirement. In the medical industry, US government policy demanded the move to the Electronic Medical Record (EMR). It’s likely that this could expand to legal and financial industries soon, with many others to follow. It’s important to get ahead and work towards adopting the cloud before it is potentially mandated. Final thoughts...For law firms like yours and the legal industry in general, adopting cloud-based technology is inevitable. It will save you money and time, which are arguably two of the major determinants for the success or failure of any business. Read our Law Firm Use Case to see how modern law firms have already upgraded to Athennian’s cloud.

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5 Common Myths About Cloud-Based Legal Entity Management Software

Cloud-based legal technology has experienced enormous market growth in a very short amount of time. However, with all new technologies comes a certain amount of misconceptions and myths. This is understandable given the cloud’s rapid growth and the nature of its proposal: migrating an entire law firm and all of its entities to the cloud can seem like a daunting task. While it is always good to be skeptical at first, there is no doubt now that the cloud era has arrived, and it’s not going away any time soon. The benefits of adopting cloud-based legal technology are now well documented, but some myths concerning the cloud still remain. This blog post will look to debunk these myths and offer to explain any confusion surrounding cloud-based entity management. ‍‍Myth #1: “The cloud faces more security risks for my law firm.”‍This is probably the most common misconception about cloud-based entity management. It’s completely understandable: a new format of technology that stores and manages sensitive client and entity data which can be accessed remotely from anywhere… surely this makes hacking easier? The answer is no. The biggest risk to any entity management platform, cloud-based or not, is a security breach. The difference is, automated workflows in a cloud based solution reduce this risk because workflows are tracked from end to end. A detailed audit trail allows you to track what changes were made, when, and by whom. Since cloud-based providers don’t have to worry about maintaining on-premise servers to house the software, they can have dedicated security teams, real-time threat detection, and greater investments in security infrastructure. ‍Cloud platforms offer the most rigorous security protocols with servers and failsafes tested and certified to the highest standards. Athennian is SOC 2 Type II certified to give your law firm, and therefore your clients, peace of mind. ‍‍Myth #2: “Cloud adoption will be difficult for my law firm since it’s so new.”‍Many folks still consider the cloud to be a new form of technology - something that needs extensive training and hand-holding to get paralegal teams up to speed.In reality, the cloud has been optimized for years. It’s likely that your paralegal team is already using cloud technology in their day to day life: Email, Amazon, Spotify, Dropbox and countless other services run on cloud technology. According to a Law Firm Cloud Survey by Fish & Richardson, 78% of law firms already store client data in the cloud in some capacity. The truth is, your paralegal team will find cloud-based entity management a breeze compared to spreadsheets, or the outdated system they may be currently using. If you consider Amazon Web Services (AWS) as cloud technology’s break into the mainstream market, it’s a technology that is approaching 20 years in the industry. That’s more market experience than the iPhone. Any future optimization of cloud-based legal tech would just be further refining an already established tool. ‍Athennian’s platform is simplified and intuitive compared to other cloud-based entity management solutions on the market. Our team provides an extensive knowledge base, on-demand webinars, one on one training and an in-app feedback center so that your team can get the support they need quickly. ‍‍Myth #3: “Cloud-based entity management is more expensive.”‍Labelling cloud-based entity management solutions as more expensive is a generalization. Some outdated cloud-based entity management platforms charge per user, which as you can imagine, quickly adds up as you get your team onboarded. However, cloud-based services like Athennian are priced per active entity, offering a fully scalable solution. This means you only pay for what you use. Where cloud-based legal technology really becomes cost effective is in the long term. Cloud-based legal technology does not require any upfront costs for IT infrastructure, such as servers or hardware. The cost of maintaining and updating these systems manually is also eliminated. Since cloud-based legal tech is infinitely more secure than on-premise, traditional solutions, the cost of data breaches is significantly reduced if not eliminated altogether. ‍‍Myth #4: “Data migration takes a long time and is not worth the complicated process.”‍Data migration can be a time consuming process depending on the platform your law firm is migrating from and the size of your database. However, once it is complete, you won’t have to undertake a project like this again because your cloud solution can grow and adapt with your business needs. The benefits of upgrading to the cloud far outweigh the process of data migration. When working with a cloud provider, you want to make sure they have a detailed plan to support this transition, in order to reduce complexity and save time. When you migrate to Athennian, the transition requires minimal effort from your IT department since we have a dedicated team of experts to ensure data is migrated securely and accurately.‍Data migration doesn’t have to be scary. We’ve done this over 100 times last year alone at Athennian. We have a proven data migration process that ensures the security and integrity of your data. ‍‍Myth #5: “Cloud technology is costing people their jobs.”‍With cloud providers taking over different in-house IT responsibilities, it might seem like cloud-based legal tech is causing disruption to employment in law firms. In reality, instead of eliminating these IT responsibilities, the cloud is simply transforming them. With cloud-based technology, IT resources no longer have to be dedicated to supporting law clerks or paralegals with software issues. In-house IT teams can focus on tasks that contribute to the overall efficiency and profitability of the law firm. Instead of trying to fix bad technology, dealing with overwhelming amounts of support tickets and manually updating outdated servers, IT teams can focus on developing internal strategies that aid the growth of the law firm.Final thoughts…For some law firms, the idea of migrating to the cloud might seem daunting. However, we’ve helped law firms across the nation take their entity management into the future and reap the benefits of cloud technology. View our Dunn Carney LLP and Abrahams LLP case studies. Why upgrade to the cloud? See how Athennian's workspace has increased profitability and streamlined workflows by reading our Law Firm Use Case here. 

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The Paralegal and The Pandemic: How COVID-19 Is Impacting Your Day-to-Day Work

‍Part 1: How Has The Pandemic Changed Our World And Our Work?Key Findings:63% of participants reported increased productivity at home compared to the office 40% of survey respondents felt their workloads had increased during the pandemicIn a world of lockdowns, social distancing, and furious hand washing, we are still figuring out a new way of living and working. The legal community must rise to this challenge by recognizing the pressures some of our most vital staff are experiencing. Without paralegals, law clerks, and corporate secretaries working efficiently, legal operations will become increasingly difficult to manage.Up to 47% of Canadians are currently working at home, and multiple studies show this figure is mirrored in many other parts of the world. While many companies would, pre-pandemic, shy away from remote work due to security, productivity, and collaboration concerns, we know now that not only is remote work possible - in some cases, it’s desirable. Data shows that workers are generally more productive at home, causing the corporate world to rethink past norms in favor of the new normal. Many workers are reluctant to go back into the office full-time, especially while the virus lingers. And the overall, unexpected success of working from home has sparked speculation that teams will strike a balance between the home and the office even after the pandemic. Additionally, a post-Covid world will likely include a much higher proportion of permanent home workers than before the coronavirus pandemic. 63% of paralegals told us they felt more productive at home than in the office. And 40% said workloads had increased. In fact, the demand for paralegals is on the rise. And while overall productivity has been high and workers enjoy wearing comfy clothes and saving on commuter expenses, working from home has also been frustrating and stressful, particularly for teams struggling with outdated technology that was not designed for modern work. Many legal operations teams are still using outdated processes and systems that form an obstacle course out of everyday workflows. Navigating these hurdles slows down work and increases the risk for errors and costly mistakes. For example, managing entity data via spreadsheets dramatically increases the risk of human error and version confusion.These outdated processes also force paralegal teams to waste their energy on tiresome, inefficient workflows instead of applying their skills to higher-return projects. The data tells us that teams are doing their best to stay productive, even without the right tools, but at what cost to employees? Working from home has real challenges. And as a result of the challenges from this year and the remote work situation, employee mental health is suffering. People work longer hours, blurring the lines between work and personal lives, and struggling to find human connection in a video conference world.Technology can help mitigate some of these challenges. Deploying Cloud-based entity management platforms is proven to streamline workflows, improve communication, and make collaboration easier. And the ultimate benefit to Cloud technology is that it works wherever work is being done.That said, technology doesn’t solve all of the problems facing the workforce and the paralegal community. But it’s a start. Removing that obstacle course of manual workflows and slow, outdated databases can help paralegals feel less burnt out and less stressed out while keeping productivity levels high and allowing companies to think about the next step in empowering legal teams.Part 2: How Has Working Remotely Changed and Challenged Us?Key Findings:50% of participants rated the responsiveness of lawyers as “the same” as pre-pandemic 27% of respondents said communication and collaboration were their biggest struggles while working remotely, and another 11% felt their software tools were the most significant burdenMany survey responses also called out distractions at home and the inability to “unplug” after work hoursIn this “new world,” discussion about the benefits associated with remote work has become widespread. Such a drastic change in the way we experience our jobs has created a desire to understand how it will affect us long-term, for better or worse.Companies can experience benefits by continuing remote work such as:Increased productivityReduced operating costs (cost of premises and office overheads reduced)Lower staff turnover due to improved work/life balance of staffReduced recruitment costsWhile employees may find gains of their own due to remote work like:Increased personal performance and greater job satisfactionReduced commuter time and costsFlexible hoursIncreased autonomyAs our research shows, while many employees enjoy working from home, they also have specific difficulties.As we look to the future, perhaps we can imagine there will be fewer distractions when schools reopen. Maybe we can even look to employers to encourage “no work” hours to help employees strike a work-life balance, or as we’ve said at Athennian, a work-life integration. While we speculate on what the future will look like, we know for certain - there are solutions to these problems. And there are solutions to the problems related to communication and collaboration, and frustrating, inefficient technology. Solving the latter can be quick and relatively painless with the right tools. Whether we all run back to the office, hesitantly return to the commute, or pursue a hybrid model, employers are ill-advised to keep employees at home without putting the right tools and processes in place to support them long-term.‍Investing in Infrastructure, Returns in Productivity and Employee SatisfactionFor many companies, a fully remote staff was never in the cards. But now that they have seen the benefits of productivity and cost savings on physical spaces, they may be enchanted with the proposition of continuing the work from home model well after the pandemic is behind us.It’s fair to say that many companies shifted to remote work with little to no preparation and without a culture of remote work at their organization. This overnight work shift meant that many teams lacked the right infrastructure to help their teams succeed remotely. As we scrambled in April and May to figure out Zoom backgrounds and became more comfortable in the virtual world, we were also anticipating a return to the workplace in the near future.As May turned to July and July to September, here we are in December 2020, still largely at home. Taking all of this into account, we know that if they haven’t already, organizations need to invest in the right infrastructure to support their teams. The right processes and systems can make all the difference when working, regardless of where people work. Take, for example, the entity management space. Most entity management tools available today were built last century... They were built before Netflix was physically mailing DVDs. Asking teams to be more productive and increase their workloads and manage the distractions of working at home with tools that outdated is like asking us to write this report using a Blackberry.‍Legal Teams are Struggling to Communicate and CollaborateLoneliness is a real challenge right now. 22% of survey respondents reported struggling with loneliness since the pandemic hit. How can teams combat this? Let’s look at what else survey participants said. Nearly a third of them noted communicating and collaborating was their biggest struggle while working remotely. If your team feels they can’t effectively communicate and work with their team, it correlates that almost a quarter of them feel isolated. Improving communication and collaboration can have a waterfall of benefits. First, it can help teams manage feelings of isolation. Holding regular team meetings, investing in better chat programs, and even holding virtual social events for team building are all techniques adopted in the face of COVID-19. Secondly, improving communication and collaboration within your workflows enables your teams to work more efficiently and effectively while simultaneously combatting isolation. Cloud technology is one example of how to implement better communication and collaboration within your teams. Using software designed and hosted in the Cloud allows your team to work together in real-time, keeping communication open and transparent. Additionally, automated workflows found in modern technology improve collaboration and reduce frustrating, manual processes. For example, e-filing a new entity or passing documents on to signatories with e-sign technology is a better way to manage collaborative projects and multi-step processes.Why does investing in infrastructure and improving communication and collaboration across your organization matter for the business? Besides the fact that people are the most valuable asset at any company, there is a hard and fast business case for these changes. 33% of survey respondents said they were struggling to stay motivated. Burnout. Turnover. Decreased productivity. Loss of revenue. All of these are solid business-backed reasons to make the change, keep your teams engaged, and give them the right tools to stay that way today and tomorrow.Part 3: How Are We Reinvesting In Our People?Key Findings:36% of respondents said their mental health was suffering due to stress21% have seen a reduction in household income22% reported losing colleagues, primarily due to layoffsJust as companies need to look at how they invest in the right infrastructure to succeed, they also need to look at how they invest in their people to help them succeed. Reducing stress is key to supporting employees. With 36% of surveyed employees reporting a strain on their mental health due to stress, organizations should look at where they can remove stress. And, they should look at how they can help employees cope. Looking back at how to solve for technical infrastructure can also help employers tackle stress management for their teams, particularly paralegals. Providing paralegals with the right tools to do their work with less frustration and fewer mistakes would undoubtedly help to alleviate stress. While that may not solve the whole problem for employees, it is a start. A few other suggestions for minimizing stress:Encourage employees to move around during working hours. Taking walks is one example. Make socializing accessible with virtual events like team lunches and coffee breaks over Zoom or a similar video conferencing tool. Recognize your paralegals. They’re working hard. Giving recognition is simple and pays considerable dividends in employee satisfaction. Fun fact, at Athennian, we hosted a lunch session where employees could play a virtual game together. It was a big hit with the team and helped our employees take a break and recharge their batteries.Another area where survey respondents were feeling weighed down was in facing the loss of colleagues due to layoffs. The workforce reductions caused by COVID’s economic fallout was almost certainly relevant to the spike in stress-related mental health concerns. It is also a likely contributor to the aforementioned increase in workload.We know what organizations can do to help teams that are being spread thin. Adding the right tools and technologies can have an immediate positive impact on your paralegals, and ultimately on your business. Our technology was built to improve the lives of paralegals. With an easy to use interface, integrations into the rest of your legal tech stack, and a faster processing time than standard databases, Athennian is not just a database; it’s a workspace for your team.Final Thoughts We cannot underestimate the value of paralegals. When supported and set up for success, they have the capacity to improve your whole organization. While they support lawyers and clients, and in doing so, fill a crucial role in the revenue operations of your company, they are also widely using outdated technology, manual processes, frustratingly hard to use tools. And they’re doing that while managing the stresses of a pandemic. Our mission is to empower paralegals and legal professionals. As we look to fulfill that mission, we see how our technology and service teams are already making a difference for paralegals worldwide. But we also see an opportunity to empower paralegals by lifting them up, giving them recognition, and advocating for their success both through Athennian’s offerings and through a cultural shift in the legal industry. We believe the post-pandemic future will continue to emphasize flexible working arrangements and the use of innovative legal technology to help paralegals, and legal teams at large, be more successful. And the team here at Athennian will continue leading the way.

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