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Mistakes your legal department might be making with matter management

REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Matter management for corporate legal teams can be complicated. The business depends on the legal department to adopt a wide-angle lens and act strategically while keeping a close eye on the day-to-day details of each matter. With so many facets to a matter, it’s easy to understand why matter management presents a challenge.

Throughout the course of each matter, in-house lawyers must coordinate with internal teams, collaborate with external counsel, track spend, ensure matter progress, mitigate risk and more—all while tracking status, managing matter documents and capturing critical information from email communications and meetings.

As corporate legal teams focus on streamlining processes to improve efficiency, there are four pitfalls that must be overcome to optimise matter management.

  1. Using multiple disconnected systems

How many technology solutions are you currently using for your matter management processes? Your team may use a client portal provided by external counsel for collaboration, an intranet for knowledge sharing, email for sending documents, a task or team management system to keep everyone on track and spreadsheets to monitor and report matter progress—just to name a few.  With your processes and matter data scattered throughout these systems, collaboration is minimal, efficiency is stunted, and real-time progress reporting is nearly impossible.

Matter management platforms are more accessible than ever, but even if a new solution is out of reach given a tight (or non-existent) legal technology budget, working with your IT team to identify integration opportunities within your current technology stack can be a quick way to boost efficiency and optimise processes.

  1. Limiting transparency and visibility

If your legal department is using static spreadsheets to track matters, you know how quickly information can be overlooked, become out of date, or be entered inaccurately. Documents and information stored in local drives, email, and spreadsheets make it difficult for teams to quickly access the data they need to make informed decisions and report to management.

So inevitably, questions arise: Which person has the most up-to-date information? Where are the relevant documents? Who is responsible for the next action to move a matter forward? This lack of transparency within the legal team can silo knowledge, set back progress, and impede the team’s ability to give accurate and timely advice.

  1. Missing opportunities to automate

Though matter management is complex, it is also full of routine, time-consuming tasks and processes that could be automated for greater efficiency. Workflow automation can be leveraged to make sure that matters are instantly recorded, assigned, actioned, and tracked. Matters can also be escalated when they fall within certain risk parameters. Not only does this reduce manual efforts, giving more time back to your team to focus on higher-value tasks, but it also ensures consistency, reduces risk, and ensures consistent data collection through every aspect of your matters.

  1. Letting your data languish

If any of the first three matter management mistakes are applicable to your legal team, it is likely that your ability to capture key data from your matters is also suffering. Without reliable data from previous matters, you are missing out on opportunities to optimise processes, forecast risk and communicate the value of your work to the business.

Every date, party, and clause in a matter is a data point just waiting to be leveraged for the benefit of the department and the business. The insight you can gain from this data can help paint a picture of how effectively your team manages matters or alternately bring to light an opportunity for improvement. Matter data is crucial to the continual improvement of the department. As businesses demand more from the legal team, you can’t afford to ignore the knowledge that lies in your data.

Improving matter management

These challenges can all be addressed with a matter management platform. Acting as a centralised system for all of your matter activities, a matter management platform allows your team to track, manage and collaborate on their contract negotiations, non-disclosure agreements, litigation, employee disputes, claims, and compliance issues.

The best system incorporates productivity features like secure file sharing, document and data collaboration, automated workflows and task management that empower in-house legal teams to create transparency and efficiency.

In addition, matter management affects the larger outcomes and goals of the business. With a single matter management platform, you have a better way to quickly and easily demonstrate your value to the wider business. Dashboards with real-time data visualisations available within the platform enable you to clearly communicate and report the value and effectiveness of the legal department and their work.

A matter management system that integrates with existing systems allows you to bring together your solutions, collaborate transparently and capture and analyse key data. With the insight provided, you will be able to better balance workloads, communicate with internal and external teams and improve efficiency.

To learn more about to transform your matter management processes, click here.

To learn more about how to create a modern legal technology platform, click here.

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