I was speaking to a legal operations manager last week who asked me about integrations and APIs; “I keep hearing about how I should be making more use of integrations and APIs, but I don’t know where to begin?”
After a fruitful conversation, which I seem to be having more and more frequently, I thought it would be useful to summarise my thoughts on this ‘trendy’ topic in legal tech.
Why are we even talking about this?
More and more in-house legal teams are successfully implementing multiple tech solutions such as legal front door, matter management and contract management platforms. These tools often involve multiple platforms and a lot of the data required at the input stage also lives in other wider business technologies such as CRM systems and ERPs.
As users get to grips with these technologies and adopt them in their day-to-day activities, they increasingly recognise that duplicate processes such as data entry and manual steps are happening.
What can integrations be used for?
There are a multitude of uses for integrations between various different platforms, but the main benefits they can offer are:
- Reducing the need for duplicated manual data entry
- Enabling automated triggers between technologies – for example, when you mark a sales opportunity as progressed in your sales platform, automatically trigger a Statement of Work in your contract automation tool to be generated using the data already inputted (such as party name/address/services)
- Synchronisation of data between technologies – for example you could keep a copy of the signed contract stored in both the sales platform and your contract management solution, with any changes made in either location being carried over to the other
How does it work?
Essentially, an integration allows two technologies to “talk” to one another and pass information between them. There are many ways to achieve an integration and best practice and design will depend on the use case and technologies at play. Sometimes existing out of the box connectors can be used, or even purpose-built API integration platforms can assist; other times a custom integration may need to be built from the ground up.
What is an API? API is the acronym for Application Programming Interface, which is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. Each time you use an app like Facebook, send an instant message, or check the weather on your phone, you’re using an API.
A clearly scoped business case to evaluate the most efficient method of delivery is crucial to a successful and low-maintenance integration. Time invested in designing the solution before diving in will pay dividends.
Careful consideration also needs to be given to longer-term maintenance to ensure the integration still functions as expected when technologies are updated.
So, where do I begin?
I would be delighted to have a no-obligation conversation about how integrations might help your team, you can get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rustum is a Practicing Lawyer admitted to practice in the High Court of South Africa, with a background in Engineering and Software Development. He considers himself an Agilest, and has consulted for technology companies, law firms, government, banks and the telecommunications sector, helping them innovate, while being cognizant of regulation and market practice in the TMT sector.
He also enjoys exploring the possibilities technology has to offer the Legal Industry, whether exercising a digital analysis role or performing a business, strategic, technical and legal requirements gathering role, with innovation and disruption in mind.