Paula Darch 26 June 2023 12 min read

What to look for when choosing an intranet for your legal team

You’ve come to the decision that you need a new intranet for your law firm, but how do you ‘sell’ the idea to the leadership team, and then choose the best intranet for your needs?

Let’s start with the reasons why a modern intranet is so important and the benefits it can deliver. This should be the starting point when seeking approval from the board for your intranet project.

The ‘why’ of investing in an intranet

Just five years’ ago, few legal firms provided employees with the option to work away from the office, and so accessing information and documents would have meant a short walk to a filing cabinet or a quick conversation with a colleague. Now that hybrid and flexible working is commonplace, a physical document repository can no longer support colleagues in the same way. Plus, face-to-face conversations with colleagues are happening less and less. This information and knowledge sharing has to be moved online in a way that’s secure while allowing colleagues to locate what they need as soon as they need it.

By providing all colleagues with a central hub where they can access their virtual filing cabinet, share knowledge and be kept up to date with latest policies and company news, gives everyone what they need to do their jobs effectively, regardless of location. And of course, we know all too well that ‘time is money’ when it comes to law firms, and so finding those marginal gains to increase productivity are so important. An intranet can not only allow documents and information to be sourced far quicker, but it can automate processes such as the circulation of policies and completion of forms, allowing colleagues to work far more efficiently.

Take law firm Boodle Hatfield as an example. It implemented an intranet from Sorce to keep its employees connected. Lucy Rao, Business Development Director at Boodle Hatfield says, “We recognised that in order to better support our colleagues, whether they’re working in the office or elsewhere, then a change of intranet platform was needed.” All Boodle Hatfield staff now have access to the Sorce intranet, allowing them to quickly locate the most up-to-date company-wide documents and information, from pricing and billing guidelines through to wellbeing advice and support. 

The importance of keeping colleagues connected to the company as well as to each other should also not be underestimated, as this is crucial for nurturing a strong organisational culture. An intranet has an important role to play here, ensuring all colleagues can learn about the latest company news and successes at the same. Plus, employees can easily keep in touch with their colleagues from both a professional and a social point of view to enhance their sense of belonging.

‘What’ to consider when choosing an intranet

Knowing what to look for when selecting a modern intranet is key when setting out on your intranet journey.

Firstly, you must ensure the intranet is user-friendly for everyone – end-users, content creators and administrators. For the administrators and content creators, the intranet must be agile and intuitive so that altering the design, adding new sections and uploading page content is done quickly and easily without any intervention from the IT team. For the everyday users of the system, the intranet must be really simple to navigate.

A ‘must’ for today’s workplace is that the intranet is mobile-enabled so that it can be accessed on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. The content should also be mobile-friendly so that the intranet recognises when users are logging-in using mobile devices and the format is altered to make the content easier to read and navigate. Plus, there should be a mobile app available that can be downloaded onto employees’ phones to make accessing the intranet that bit easier.

Of course, law firms may be nervous about allowing employees to access sensitive information and documents when they aren’t connected to the work VPN, which is why security must be a top concern when vetting intranet platforms. Choose an intranet that allows multi-factor authentication so that if necessary, a multi-step account login process can be implemented (this requires users to enter more information than just a password).

The intranet should also have restricted access functionality so that certain parts of the intranet are only accessible to authorised users. For instance, when setting-up an ‘onboarding hub’, new starters can only access limited information such as training resources, policy documents and team contact details. The HR, finance and compliance teams may also want to introduced restricted page access.

Mandatory read functionality also ensures users are aware that they must read and acknowledge policy documents by a specified deadline. Having a digital record of who has read and acknowledged compulsory information, is invaluable and means that employees who haven’t read the information by the deadline can be chased directly.

Plus, how easy does the intranet make connecting and collaborating with colleagues? There must be an easy-to-use staff directory, messaging features and workflow functionality so that information and documents can be shared, worked on together and approved.

Integrated social media functionality makes it easy for colleagues to interact with the company and each other. For instance, allowing the sharing of news, ‘liking’ of opinions and the ability for people to comment on blogs, helps nurture an inclusive culture. It should also be easy for everyone (when permitted) to upload photos, videos and webinars, and the intranet should have the ability to be connected to the organisation’s social feeds including LinkedIN, Facebook and Twitter.

It’s important to note that not all intranets will have a built-in staff recognition tool. Choosing an intranet that has pre-existing recognition functionality means that giving, receiving and broadcasting recognition moments are effortlessly done via the intranet, supporting a culture of appreciation.

Finally, the intranet provider’s knowledge and support must be a crucial consideration, especially as this varies considerably between one provider and another. Questions to ask the supplier may include: Where are you based? (if you’re U.K-based and the intranet supplier is U.S-based, any queries are unlikely to be answered until the afternoon/evening); Have you any customers that are law firms?; How will you support us during the build process? (will the supplier host workshops to help with the layout and design?); Will we have a specific account manager/contact throughout?; What does your support involve once we’re live with the intranet? And so on. The intranet you choose may be a good fit, but if the supplier leaves you to figure out how to build it, then the end result is likely to be poor!

An intranet is more important than ever!

The workplace has changed and so must legal firms’ response to how they work. Despite a few legal teams returning to the office full-time (and firms threatening staff with an office return), the fact is that hybrid working is here to stay, so implementing a modern intranet is more important than ever.

With the right intranet in place, legal teams can effortlessly share important information, documents and policies, and remain connected to each other, wherever they are. And with such streamlined and collaborative processes in place, efficiencies can be enjoyed, productivity enhanced and work relationships strengthened.





Paula Darch

Paula is our marketing whizz and is passionate about intranet engagement and getting the most out of your intranet software.