Roughly 30 years ago, the idea of computers managing in-house matters and outside counsel billing was an appealing concept. Paper ruled those processes, with lawyers slogging through reams of bills and digging through filing cabinets for documents.
Thanks to advances in software, hardware, the cloud, mobile computing and more, matter management and legal e-billing solutions are now fundamental parts of corporate legal departments’ toolkits. The technologies help legal professionals understand data, create efficiencies and increase business contributions. With this in mind, here are four exciting ways in-house professionals are leveraging eBilling and matter management.
Internal time tracking for in-house legal professionals can shed light on the type of work lawyers and staff members are assigned and performing and enable immediate changes based on this data. With reporting, you can identify surface administrative versus substantive assignments, as well as unique, high-risk matters versus repetitive work. G.C.s can review data to ensure equitable matter staffing and projects. Such data may also be used to guide recruiting efforts, justify budgets and navigate future hiring.
Diversity and Inclusion
In March 2019, more than 60 U.K. and European general counsel – including G.C.s from the GC 100 and the European G.C. association – signed a letter demanding more diversity from their law firms. The U.S. has also prioritized diversity, with G.C.s signing pledges and joining forces with law firms to jump-start new diversity-related innovations. Now, matter management and eBilling support the cause. Using these systems, in-house counsel can review demographic information on timekeepers from law firms. The data reveals how work was assigned, guides changes, allows monitoring of those changed practices and leads to a continual cycle of improvement.
The same tactic can be used in-house, with G.C.s reviewing internal staff to ensure they reflect the company’s efforts to move the needle on diversity and inclusion programs within the law department and across the overall company.
The pandemic has forced many companies to rethink and reset. As a result, initiatives arise to increase efficiency and control costs. Automation with matter management and eBilling supports both of those priorities, streamlining administrative work and decreasing the time it takes to complete work. By capturing the new efficiencies, time saved, advances in work made possible by time savings and increased output, corporate legal departments can align with corporate initiatives.
More importantly, matter management and legal eBilling solutions enable a legal team to justify why funds are being spent and effectively communicate and quantify how much risk was mitigated through legal spend. For example, consider a high-stake matter that may significantly impact a company and its abilities. In a situation like that, any amount of spend less than that value may be seen as a win.
Corporate legal work stretches beyond the corporate legal department’s boundaries and across the entire enterprise, touching H.R., compliance, marketing, sales and more. Having a single platform for technology, including matter management and eBilling, allows corporate legal to use Apps to increase cross-departmental efficiencies and responsiveness. The Apps also encourage adoption since most of the users are already familiar with the platform and its solutions’ general look and feel.
This approach also enables a legal team to work cross-functionally and eliminate the “black box” perspective. Other groups can send information to legal for review and work with legal to appropriately engage outside counsel. Legal still has oversight but is also able to see broad risk management wins.
Here are a few examples of how Apps amplify the power of matter management and spend management:
- An international automotive manufacturer uses an App to automate reporting for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act, reducing manual work and ensuring the company complies with the act.
- A Fortune 500 global consumer products company relies on an App to centralize marketing challenge requests, increasing knowledge management and enabling analytics to understand the consistency and success rates of challenges.
- One company uses an App to help manage all of the necessary business processes, reviews and approvals for the transfer of assets between portfolio companies and generates the legal documents needed to memorialize the transactions. As a result, the company can handle even more complex financial transactions with the same size staff.
Doubtless, use cases for matter management, legal e-Billing solutions and other vital legal operations systems will evolve as technology does. Automation, AI and more will continue to help legal operations further the efficiencies, insight and savings for their corporate legal departments.
Many thanks go to Rodolfo Christophersen, Regional Legal Operations Manager of Mercado Libre, who joined Onit experts for this piece. It was originally posted on the International Legal Technology Association’s blog here.