By Allie Philpin
As anyone who is either in, or has been connected with, the legal industry will know that litigation cases come with the headache of managing legal matter, particularly legal transactions – tracking, review, assistance, etc., and these tasks are often difficult to manage. But with the growth of matter management technology delivering efficient systems, the management process appears to be far better!
Just keeping track of active legal matters can be complicated, but today’s matter management software delivers a centralised tracking approach, as well as the applicable resources. Technology provides a set of matter management tools that allow users to track matters, resources used and any other details associated the case, keeping abreast of how long a matter has been active, at what stage the litigation is at, and keep up-to-date with any outsourced firms that are assisting. As the tools are centralised within the software, the relevant members of the team are given sufficient access to view and share details.
Matter management solutions are able to track a legal matter’s budget including costs for vendor disbursements, document review, attorney time and any other invoice items. Users are able to track their legal spend, set thresholds and even automatic alerts to advise when thresholds have been exceeded. Many systems can also be integrated with e-billing modules, allowing the tracking of time entry types and tasks, plus there is the ability to validate outside counsel invoices to ensure they conform to your firm’s rules. Invoice validation is also able to flat any invoices that violate the rules, such as over-the-limit paralegal charges.
Keeping up-to-date with document movement has already been improved the document management systems that are often centralised, but integrate such a system with your matter management software will add more and better functionality to your fintertips, making document search by litigation type, case number or matter name much easier and quicker. As well as the convenience of having all the documents relating to court filings and corporate agreements in a central location, users are also able to add security rights, particularly when it comes to sensitive documents, and provide a comprehensive audit trail.
The reporting features in the latest matter management solutions are probably one of their best; the only drawback is that the value added by the reporting tools often doesn’t show itself until the system has been in use for a period of time, or a certain level of information has been reached. The key to getting the full reporting benefits is capturing as much data as you can throughout the entire lifecycle of individual legal matters. If you do, the reporting tools can deliver matter-level detail of all matters within the portfolio, at every management level, together with details on legal spend per matter.
As technology improves the handling of legal documents, spend, activities, outside counsel time and more, into a centralised, systematic, efficient system, surely this will lead to more effective, faster management and conclusions in litigation matters? That has to be good news not only for legal firms and outside counsels, but also for businesses and organisations.