What challenges are driving corporate legal towards matter management?
Matter management entails corporate legal work, which is expansive than case management. Managing documents and contracts also form a part of matter management. Matter management process encompasses different aspects of matter like the various class of legal work, attorneys assigned to the case, allocating resources, and other similar aspects. These aspects are monitored, collated, and reported by the legal team that manages the entire process.
Since corporate legal work is the fulcrum around which matter management revolves, robust Matter managing must be multi-faceted:
- Disputes and Litigation
- Intellectual Property
- Contract management
- Legal Research and advisory
- Governance, Compliance and Risk management
Matter management creates a structure within an organization that ensures managing workflow in a better way, thereby leading to effective legal resource management.
Case management v Matter Management
Case management: is not as comprehensive as matter management. Attorneys use case management systems to manage an endless flow of paperwork effectively. It restricts to storing documents in a centralized manner.
Matter management is broader in scope and entails several aspects of corporate legal practice. It’s not restricted to managing paperwork, though managing paperwork forms a part of the matter management process. It allows users to create and open a matter, assign attorneys and timekeepers to matters, and report on who worked on what matters and for how long, to name a few.
Why is matter management crucial for organizations?
An organization’s legal department has various legal issues to take care of. These issues are complex and distinct. Organizations work sans a structured method to resolve these issues. For example, organizations often have no idea about where their legal department are expending resources. Further, how efficiently or inefficiently the legal department is collaborating with external counsels and other resource-draining points are not visible to the organization.
Issues at any stage
Any process has several stages, and matters can rear its ugly head at any stage. Once an issue has reared its ugly head, significant time and resource go into finding the relevant documents. In short, the whole process is inefficient. The organizations have several different databases that are not integrated, therefore making the transfer of data back and forth an error-prone exercise.
Expending resources where it isn’t not required
Deprived of an organized process, the organization is unaware of the chokepoints in its managing system. Thereby, the organizations continue to operate in a prodigal manner. The organization cannot prioritize the matters, identify loopholes in its legal operations, and control expending their resources over legal issues. Other deleterious impact includes falling behind the deadline, missing project milestones, etc.
The scenario is aggravated when new issues crop up. A disordered process impedes the legal staff vis-à-vis tackling new cases as they are occupied with previous problems. Further, it is possible that a new issue is linked with a previous issue, but the unorganized approach doesn’t identify the common thread. As a result, inefficiency is perpetuated from one stage to another.
External legal aid
When an organization associates with outside counsel for resolving legal matters, an unorganized process results in the organization being clueless about vital aspects of the project. For instance, the outside counsel will bill the organization aligning with the number of hours devoted to the organization’s work. However, the organization hasn’t got a process to verify the counsel’s claim.
Further, frequent updating by the counsel to the in-house counsel will increase the billable hours-resource draining exercise. Issues are complex, and the magnitude of it makes the communicating process a wasteful one for the organization. However, the outside counsel or firm may welcome the above scenario.
A human-driven and fragmented approach are both wasteful and protracted, which stymies the organization’s growth.
Vital questions remain unanswered:
On what basis the organization must pick the firm or counsel for resolving its legal issues when the organization is unaware of crucial facets of the problem?
How can an organization decide which firm is inefficient, thereby ceasing to assign its work to such firms?
How to identify the best-suited firm for its work?
When the parameters to measure the efficiency of firms is absent, how can the organization leverage the work (Quantity and Quality) when negotiating with the firm?
How does matter management software plug the loopholes?
It offers an integrated approach wherein the several distinct systems are eliminated; as a result, the data interact with different aspects, and each other, and efficient workflow is created. Further, the software can be tailor-made, aligning with the firm’s requirement.
The process is streamlined, and a central repository is created. Employees can access the central database, which makes it easier to communicate with internal and external personnel. Furthermore, the organization can analyze the data from the database and eliminate chokepoints, if any, in the system.
Analyzing data benefits organizations because they can recognize the pattern and proactively prepare a mitigation plan.
Opening new matters are fast and effective as the process is automated, organized, and template-based.
These measures eventually lead to cost reduction. According to a report, better work management saves 1.5% of external legal expenses every year.
Repetitive work and manual work is automated; therefore, in-house counsels can focus on crucial aspects a matter.
- Improving end-user work time owing to centralization
- Faster generation, storage, and reference to legal documents
- Decreased time for creating reports concerning business users
- Automated notifications that reduce the number of manual emails
- Expedited research process
- Streamlined, more efficient allocation of work across resources to maximize productivity
- Improved risk management
- Safer and better compliant data and document practices.
The organizations that adopt technology purge out the attributes that hinder progress. Manual systems have many shortcomings, as highlighted by this piece. Organizations cannot thrive without harnessing technology to their advantage. Automation removes the deadwood from the organization, making it lighter, thereby organizations can achieve their goals faster. The corporates should understand their needs and choose software aligning with it.
About the author : Suryash Kumar, working at Vidma Consulting Group LLP, who loves exploring the uncharted territories. He has always been fascinated by the legal field, and he believes writing is one of the ways through which he contribute to the growth of the legal field.