Matter Management for Corporate Legal Teams
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Effective matter management is essential for corporate legal teams, who often deal with thousands of new internal and external matters each year. Manually managing the documents and workflows associated with legal matters isn’t efficient, but neither are the cobbled-together digital solutions many teams use.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What legal matter management is
- The most frequent stumbling blocks to efficient matter management
- Digital solutions to optimize your team’s performance
What Is Matter Management?
Legal matter management refers to managing all internal and external activities necessary for running a corporate legal department. It includes elements of project management that are specific to different legal cases, including the following.
Case and matter intake
Capturing relevant information about new legal cases and matters is foundational to all other activities. Therefore, it must be a streamlined and efficient process, allowing for timely and accurate information intake, such as the nature of the case, the parties involved, and critical deadlines. Some companies use ticketing systems to capture case and matter intake, while others might use more disjointed methods like email and chat.
A robust document management system is a cornerstone of effective legal matter management. You need features such as document indexing, version control, and access control to secure and organize the storage, retrieval, and management of legal documents.
Managing complex workflows between departments, teams, and individuals is one of the most difficult aspects of matter management. Features such as task assignment, prioritization, and progress tracking can optimize workflow management.
Billing and invoicing
Accurately tracking and managing the costs associated with legal matters is tedious but necessary. An effective billing and invoicing system should include time tracking, expense management, and invoicing to manage the financial aspects of legal matter management.
Tracking extensive and frequently conflicting communication is a logistical challenge for most legal departments. Communications management systems need to provide email management, task-related messaging, and document sharing, allowing seamless communication between team members, vendors, or other outside parties.
Reporting and analytics
In today’s era of big data, the ability to generate analytical reports is a crucial component of optimizing all aspects of business operations. Reports on real-time performance metrics, custom reporting, and data visualization allow you to gain insights into legal matter management processes and outcomes like what monthly contract volume looks like or how large average contract deal size are.
Complying with legal and regulatory requirements is increasingly complex but is vital for effective legal matter management. Automated reminders, audit trails, and secure document storage can simplify the process and ensure your organization meets all legal and regulatory requirements to mitigate potential risk exposure.
Internal vs. External Legal Matter Management
While both internal and external uses of legal matter management share some common goals like improving efficiency and communication, the focus and specific features of these systems may vary depending on their intended use.
Internal Uses of Legal Matter Management Systems
- Streamlining operations: The primary objective of using legal matter management systems internally is to simplify the day-to-day operations of the legal team — managing cases, documents, and workflow.
- Improving efficiency: Legal systems can help legal teams work more efficiently by automating repetitive tasks like time tracking and invoicing and providing real-time visibility into the progress of legal matters.
- Enhancing collaboration: By providing a centralized platform for communication and collaboration, legal matter management systems can help legal teams work together more effectively.
- Managing costs: Time tracking, billing, and invoicing can help internal teams prove their worth as a value-add instead of a necessary drain.
External Uses of Legal Matter Management Systems
- Improving communication: Legal matter management systems can help corporate legal teams communicate more effectively with vendors and external stakeholders. Secure document sharing enables efficient communication between the legal team and counterparties.
- Enhancing relationships: Giving stakeholders access to real-time information about their legal matters can help corporate counsel improve satisfaction by providing a better understanding of their legal issues’ progress.
- Increasing transparency: A centralized platform for communication and collaboration increases transparency with vendors and other external stakeholders. Real-time performance metrics, custom reporting, and data visualization can provide stakeholders with a clear understanding of the progress of legal matters.
Benefits of Legal Matter Management
Matter management solutions provide many benefits for your legal team, including:
- Increased efficiency: Legal professionals can streamline and standardize the handling of legal cases, resulting in improved efficiency and productivity.
- Better organization: A centralized platform for organizing and tracking the various aspects of a case, including documents, deadlines, and communications, allows you to stay updated on the status of all legal matters.
- Improved communication: Systems facilitate communication, allowing you to keep stakeholders informed about the status of their cases and respond promptly to any questions or concerns.
- Enhanced collaboration: You can share information, discuss cases, and make collaborative decisions.
- Better decision-making: Reporting and analytics capabilities give you insight into the performance of your cases and your department. You can use this information to make data-driven decisions that provide concrete results.
- Improved security: Platforms offer secure storage for sensitive documents and data, protecting confidential information.
Challenges of Matter Management
Despite its benefits, many legal teams face obstacles that can make matter management difficult, including:
- Implementation: Implementing a matter management system can be complex and time-consuming, requiring significant resources and coordination.
- User adoption: Getting your team to use a new system can be challenging, particularly if they are used to working with traditional methods.
- Data integration: Integrating new systems with other systems and software used by your legal department can be technologically challenging if the systems use different data formats.
- Data accuracy: Ensuring that the data entered into a matter management system is accurate and up-to-date is vitally important, as errors can significantly impact the handling of a case.
- Security: Protecting sensitive information and confidential documents stored in a repository is necessary to comply with relevant regulations.
- Cost: Implementing a matter management system can be expensive up front, though it will save money in time.
- Customization: Some systems may not have all the features you need or may impose features you don’t.
Contract Lifecycle Management Tools
Many matter management tools are available, but finding the best one for your team will require some research. Contract lifecycle management (CLM) tools automate and streamline the entire contract lifecycle, from creation to renewal and termination. When evaluating your options, look for a comprehensive CLM tool with the following functions.
Implementation and user adoption
Look for solutions with a straightforward setup process and user-friendly interface that’s easy for a nontechnical team to manipulate. Ease of use minimizes the time and resources required to get the tool up and running.
Ask about data integration with other systems and your department’s current software, including document management systems and customer relationship management systems.
Features such as automated data entry and validation can improve contract management data accuracy. Automating these checks reduces the risk of errors and ensures that the data entered into the system is accurate and current.
Security should be a top priority in your search for a matter management tool, so ask about features such as encryption, role-based access controls, and audit trails.
CLM tools can be cost-effective since they usually have lower implementation and maintenance costs than traditional matter management systems.
Effective legal matter management is critical for corporate teams to efficiently handle and track legal cases, agreements, and other legal processes. By choosing a well-suited CLM tool and following best practices, you can streamline legal operations, improve transparency and communication, and reduce the risk of errors or missed deadlines. A robust legal matter management system can help you make more informed decisions, minimize legal risks, and improve your department’s overall performance.