Note: Sections of this post were adopted from an article titled: How Matter Management Works for Legal Departments which ran in the August/September 2013 issue of Today’s General Counsel.
The value proposition of automated matter management, in the context of enterprise legal management (ELM), is nested in visibility. Visibility into all relevant information pertaining to a specific matter including:
- Establish predictable budgets for new matters
- Manage service providers
- Standardize legal process and workflow
- Assign, track and supervise tasks
- Maintain a current status and situational awareness
- Control legal spend including invoice review and approval
In an ideal world, the matter management system provides corporate counsel with insight into all current matters with which a corporation is engaged. It provides a means for collaborating with outside law firms and the ability to see the granular details with a click.
This is inherently valuable since within large legal departments, there are many moving parts. In the U.S. the largest organizations can have both hundreds of staff and attorneys – both inside and outside the corporation focused on legal matters.
For example, according to the ALM 2013 Law department Metrics Benchmarking study the profile of a billion dollar legal department counts:
- 49+ attorneys working in more than 25 different practice areas
- 24+ paralegals and nearly 30 additional staff in administration
- Employ on average 125 different law firms
- Spend nearly $1 million per legal service provider
Matter management systems enable the GC to gain better control over this large mix and deliver greater and transparent value to the business.
3 Benefits of Corporate Legal Matter Management
All of this data, aggregated in a matter management can be analyzed to provide actionable information to drive better decisions and legal outcomes for the business. Some examples are:
1. Legal spend management. How much should a company pay for legal services? Certainly legal work isn’t a commodity and value is often of greater concern than the average cost per hour of a firm. However, over time, matter management systems can provide a good sense for how long a project will take as well as its average cost. This leads to more effective negotiations and predictability in budgeting.
2. Legal matter strategy. At what point does it become more advantageous to settle or litigate? Corporate counsel’s ultimate goal is to reduce risk – and by providing analytics about previous matters, costs and outcomes – corporate lawyers can make data-driven recommendations or decisions about the optimal path forward. Data driven options also resonate with business leaders who are less accustomed to dealing with the complexities of legal strategy.
3. Visibility into legal risks. What is the status of a given matter? What is the overall risk profile of my portfolio of matters? With multiple touch points on a given matter, and with several members of staff both inside and outside a company collaborating on a project, the ability to have all information related to a case a fingertip length away is incredibly valuable. Changes in matter status can have financial second and third order effects the business needs to know immediately.
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The common theme to these three primary benefits is managing legal costs – without sacrificing quality – while also reducing uncertainty by using data and analysis to drive better outcomes.
Photo credit: Flickr via Creative Commons; CC 2.0
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