OG&E Case Study

Leveraging Technology to Fuel Operational Efficiencys

Introducing technology into legal operations helped manage workload and control costs.

INSIGHT INTO VENDOR MANAGEMENT

Another benefit of automation for OG&E’s attorneys was the ability to more easily review matters by outside counsel, giving them more insight into the work being done and helping to forge a more collaborative culture with law firm partners.

“CounselLink e-billing is huge [for us] because we’ve partnered with our law firms to pay
them faster. In return, we asked for more transparency—and got it.
— Ms. Reyes
Easily accessible metrics provide transparency and allows OG&E to weigh each matter through a liability/cost perspective, allowing a better understanding of the type of legal work being outsourced to law firms and those being retained in-house. Ms. Reyes noted that while OG&E’s internal attorney headcount has remained more or less static over the past several years, more legal work is being completed in-house as a result of improved reporting and attention to metrics.
VISIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY

Implementing CounselLink has significantly improved OG&E’s legal department metrics reporting by providing them with the tools for getting insight into the operations of the department, including finances. With the ability to quickly access data and metrics through numerous one-click reports, OG&E stakeholders can evaluate legal business operations with a tactical and strategic mindset.

“Once we were able to get reports on the small things, our General Counsel wanted
more … out-of-the-box thinking for how to get more in-depth metrics.”
— Ms. Reyes

Beginning with foundational reports to gain insight into performance, workload, productivity, and legal spend, such as the number and type of matters assigned to law firms, outside counsel spend in a given time period, actual spend vs. budget, and timekeeper rate levels, OG&E evolved and leveraged additional data that provided a macro and detailed understanding of legal operations budget considerations. As an example, the legal department can now identify if a particular litigation matter is trending above budget and investigate the factors driving up the costs.

STREAMLINING COMMUNICATION

Prior to implementing CounselLink, the OG&E process for legal hold notices consisted of a Microsoft® Word document that was emailed out with a read-receipt—not an ideal way to track these communications, according to Ms. Reyes. But with the Legal Hold Notice module and its integration into an active directory of customers, OG&E received an ongoing list to see which members were subject to these notices at any given time. The reports are produced for the IT department, and reminders that go out to custodians are now part of an automated process.
In a similar way, the Legal Request Tool allowed OG&E to manage communications across the organization. Prior to its implementation, there was no centralized portal to submit, organize, and assign incoming requests from various internal departments. Now, through a link provided on the company’s intranet, stakeholders can easily submit their requests for services, and legal operations can report on quantity of workload, type of request, and its origin.

We can pull reports on legal request functions as part of the contract review process, and we couldn’t do that before.”
— Ms. Reyes
STRATEGIC PLANNING

As an integral part of a forward-leaning company, the OG&E legal department is leveraging new technology to become progressively more strategic in its decision-making. Establishing new processes for work and matter management, vendor management, invoice processing and financial management, legal hold, and legal request, and with the visibility that automated reporting provides, OG&E now has better information for making long-range planning decisions. Ms. Reyes said the legal department has begun documenting processes to codify the learning of the past several years, assisting with succession and business continuity planning. She observed that the legal department is now viewed more as a corporate business partner, delivering greater value to the company. OG&E legal operations achieved the goal of leveraging technology for better outcomes with a fully integrated all-in-one SaaS ELM system. This was accomplished by gaining visibility into all matters and spend, easily accessible reporting, optimization of resources, and enhanced outside counsel collaboration. Ultimately, CounselLink helped OG&E’s legal department to control costs, maximize productivity, and make better decisions, elevating their role as an indispensable business partner.

SOLUTION: LexisNexis CounselLink

Headquartered in Raleigh, NC, CounselLink® is part of the LexisNexis software and technology division, providing enterprise legal management solutions for business.

CUSTOMER PROFILE

OG&E
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

As the oldest and largest investor-owned electric utility in Oklahoma, OG&E (Oklahoma Gas & Electric) serves over 860K customers in 267 towns and cities in a 30K sq. mile area of Oklahoma and western Arkansas. Formed in 1902, the company is recognized as an industry leader with a demonstrable history of innovation, as shown by its investments in smart technology and a 2020 initiative to continue enhancing the company’s power grid into and throughout Oklahoma. This focus to improve process and outcomes extends to business operations as well. Prior to 2017, the company’s legal department billing system was completely manual, burdened with paper that filled 16 filing cabinets, according to Amanda Reyes, Supervisor of Law Department Operations at OG&E. To address this issue, OG&E realized the need for an automated technology solution for invoice review and payment that would drive efficiency and productivity while lowering costs. The goal was to identify and procure a file management and e-billing solution that allowed stakeholders across the organization to access the information they needed without spending the time to move paper from one office to the next.

MANAGING WORKLOAD

Upon implementation of CounselLink, OG&E experienced an immediate benefit. By transitioning to a cloud-based application that improved efficiency by automating the manual invoicing and billing process, it removed the need for printing vendor invoices, hand-delivering them to attorneys for review, waiting for feedback, and mailing checks to partner law firms. Ms. Reyes reported a significant reduction in time spent by legal operations— from about 25 hours per month to less than five—as a result of implementing this solution.

From an administrative standpoint, automation provided the ability to easily understand law firm billing activity, flagging discrepancies that included:
 

  • The accuracy of invoices against approved rates
  • The accuracy of administrative expenses being charged
  • Timekeeper rates that were not approved
  • Adherence to established billing guidelines

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