Why Matter Management Matters: Legal Departments Must Focus on Effectiveness, Not Just Efficiency - Mitratech

Why Matter Management Matters: Legal Departments Must Focus on Effectiveness, Not Just Efficiency

At Mitratech, we work with quite a few legal departments that are implementing their first true legal matter management or e-Billing software solution. Most are moving off an excel-based system, a clunky homegrown system, or disparate matter management and e-Billing systems. More often than not, their primary goal in purchasing the new system is to lower legal spend through better visibility and management of outside counsel expenses. Sometimes, they come to us thinking this means that an e-Billing solution alone will get them where they want to be. In actuality, a strong, robust matter management system (integrated with e-Billing, contracts management, IP management, etc…) is the critical hub that allows legal departments to be truly effective, not just efficient. Why is that?

Let’s assume that Company X has a strategic goal to reduce outside counsel spend by 30%.  Having a sound e-Billing system in place that flags billing errors, out-of-compliance invoices, and streamlines the cost of doing business manually will certainly increase the visibility the legal department needs to manage costs more effectively. However, most businesses recognize that lower costs without better business outcomes is not a sustainable business model, and the same holds true for the legal department.  Without a solid focus on improving matter outcomes, driving down costs in and of itself is ineffective in the long run.

Think of this example: My husband is in the construction business, and he often runs into homeowners that want to choose the builder with the lowest cost for one of the biggest investments they will ever make.  In many cases, that builder with the lowest costs uses lower quality subcontractors, lower quality materials, and the end result is actually a HIGHER total cost for homeowner as timelines get pushed, budgets go over, and materials have to be re-ordered – in addition to a much higher risk of building failure.  That same risk exists in the legal industry if departments are solely focused on driving down legal spend.

There are two key ways that a strong matter management system itself will both drive down outside legal spend and improve performance:

  1. Strong collaboration with outside counsel during the course of the matter will reduce costs.  When outside counsel have secure access to the matter management system to provide matter status updates and collaborate efficiently on documents, our clients have realized a reduction in spend due to eliminating or dramatically reducing the number of emails and phone calls that would otherwise be required to keep staff abreast of all active matters. The ability to collaborate effectively also creates a better process for handling the matter, ultimately increasing overall results.
  2. As mentioned above, choosing firms based on both cost AND performance is the key to driving down risk for the business.  Having a centralized source of matter data allows legal departments to better manage their workload and the capacity of preferred firms. Reducing the number of low performing firms improves the quality of firms and reduces the overall number of firms to manage. Then, pulling in the additional information from the e-billing system into the matter management system allows the organization to truly optimize its mix and selection of internal and outside counsel, driving down costs AND driving up performance.

Without the backbone of a robust matter management system that enables collaboration with outside counsel, is configurable enough to allow you to track matters the way that you want to, and fully integrates with an e-Billing system, these benefits will not be realized. Mitratech’s TeamConnect and Lawtrac solutions are both built on the premise that matter management must serve as the central hub of the legal department, while fully and seamlessly extending into e-Billing functionality, in order to provide the 360 degree visibility the legal department requires to truly be a strategic business partner to the organization.

See how several Mitratech clients are leveraging these technology capabilities in the whitepaper, Transforming Legal: Utilizing Technology to Make the Legal Department the Best-Run Function in the Corporation.

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