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12 min read

Why Small Legal Teams Need a CLM

Legal teams are tiny but mighty. As one of the few in-house teams that touch every aspect of the business, you review vendor contracts, negotiate sales contracts, collaborate on company policies and procedures, map out data practices with product … the list goes on. By some miracle, you’re managing to keep it together using spreadsheets and Outlook, but if you feel like you might start to lose it if you don’t have some support soon, it’s time to consider a contract lifecycle management (CLM) tool.

What is CLM?

If the legal team is Iron Man, then CLM is J.A.R.V.I.S.

CLM refers to contract lifecycle management — the process and tool that allows legal to manage every stage of the contract process, from creation to renewal. CLM software automates this flow, replacing manual processes that slow you down and introduce risk.

CLM technology like LinkSquares comes equipped with features for automating contract creation, streamlining review and approval, and centralizing storage of executed agreements. Plus, with AI contract analytics, you can analyze your agreements and generate reports that visualize the data within them. 

With the ability to increase your bandwidth and enhance your capacity, CLM is a smart choice for small legal teams.

What are the benefits of CLM for a one-person team?

CLM enables legal teams of one to increase efficiency and maximize productivity. For small teams, that’s the difference between going cross-eyed reviewing stacks of contracts and being able to spend time with your family on the weekend.

Here are three more benefits of CLM for small legal teams.

Work faster with automation.

For lawyers, the tedious tasks may never fully go away. But with CLM, you can automate the manual aspects of your process to ensure streamlined execution. 

For example, instead of reviewing an NDA each time a potential customer wants access to your product sandbox, enable your sales reps to self-service standard, low-value agreements like an NDA. This gives them more autonomy in the sales process and frees you up to focus on more strategic work.

For important yet laborious tasks like contract review, allow AI to take the first pass at your agreement and point to the areas that require human eyes. This saves you a ton of time while ensuring greater accuracy.

Be a better collaborator.

As a small team with too much on your plate, it’s easy to be bogged down in the weeds. Sometimes, you end up being so busy trying to finish your work that you forget to update stakeholders about the progress on their requests. 

With LinkSquares Prioritize, our legal project management tool that integrates natively with our CLM, you can better manage expectations with your collaborators. CLM empowers you to know what’s happening in your legal portfolio and automatically update stakeholders at any time. 

Providing this visibility to teams goes a long way in building trust and confidence in your competence. When people can see what you’re working on and where their work fits into your roadmap, you have a higher chance of a more pleasant collaboration.

Provides data-driven insights for better decision-making.

At the heart of being a better business partner is understanding the business. What does the business value? What are your goals? Where does legal fit into making it happen?

With a small legal team, you can be too busy (or poorly equipped) to find, let alone share, strategic insights that help drive business forward. But with CLM, you have access to all your contract data at your fingertips. AI contract analytics gives you a window into your agreements — how many deals you closed last quarter, your risk and liability profiles, overall team performance, and so much more.

You can also use the data from your CLM to advocate for budget and additional headcount, and in so doing, expand your ability to deliver even more value.

Questions small teams considering CLM need to ask (and answer).

CLM is so powerful that small teams like yours might assume it’s too much for your needs. Sure, spreadsheets can get you by, but as you start to transact at a higher volume and expand operations, you’ll need a system to help you manage the variety and volume of your contracts, and generate data-driven insights that let you contribute to the bottom line. 

Here are three questions to ask yourself (and answer) as you consider getting a CLM.

Do you need a CLM?

No blog or podcast or thought leader can tell you whether or not you need CLM. Only you can accurately assess the business's needs based on your goals and ability. That said, many small teams can benefit from CLM — especially if you’ve already established a process and need tech support to optimize your efficiency. CLM can be an extension of your lean legal team and support you as you try to do more with less.

Are you ready for a CLM?

While CLM can take legal teams to the next level, technology is only as good as the processes that drive it. So, if you don’t have a process for managing your contracts — e.g. how do you create a new contract? Who approves contracts above a certain value? — then you might need a CLM but still not be ready for one. Start by building out workflows for your most common contract. As you develop the muscle for the processes, use CLM to enhance it.

What to look for in a CLM?

There is no definitive list of what the perfect CLM solution looks like — there’s only criteria that you and your collaborators define. Whatever you choose should allow you to realize ROI quickly. In addition to learning about potential vendors’ roadmaps and support services, ask about time to value (TTV) to understand how quickly you’d be able to see a return.


CLM legal technology gives your small but mighty legal team the ability to have a large impact on the business. By allowing you to move more quickly and accurately, CLM empowers your legal team to provide valuable insight and efficient service to the rest of the business. Investing in CLM is not a decision to be taken lightly, so make sure to accurately assess your team’s readiness for this solution, because implementing new technology on a bad process is an expensive mistake you want to avoid at all costs.

Emily Weiner is a Marketing Campaign Manager at LinkSquares