Corporate legal departments (CLDs) are under pressure. For years, senior leadership has expected CLDs to act as true business partners and enact strategies to do more with less, mitigate risk, and improve performance while controlling costs in the same ratios as other corporate departments. In light of the economic challenges triggered by the global pandemic, these demands have only increased.
Meanwhile, as legal operations professionals know very well, it has only become more challenging to manage legal matters at peak performance. For example, requirements for heightened corporate fiscal responsibility have continued to grow in recent years while companies have increased operations in international markets with differing regulatory requirements. In addition, data privacy breaches are growing exponentially, with internal users who have access to critical information often presenting the largest risk to an organization’s sensitive data.
These factors make the GC’s role significantly more challenging, yet GCs are tasked with meeting these growing challenges with roughly comparable resources year over year.
Enterprise legal management delivers increased value and improved results
A comprehensive, platform-based enterprise legal management (ELM) system helps address these challenges by centrally managing and automating legal and risk-related data and processes and streamlining legal staff efficiencies. It provides a single workspace to manage essential information and increases visibility into risks and trends to enable more proactive and strategic decisions. ELM systems enable legal teams to proactively manage and mitigate risk while maintaining quality and controlling costs.
ELM systems help to improve key legal business functions across multiple areas of legal operations. Examples include:
- Productivity: Streamlined workflows improve productivity with rules and workflow engines that automate routine and repetitive tasks, freeing legal staff to focus on high-value work. Rules-based workflows then automatically assign tasks and generate reminders based on user roles.
- Cost control: ELM systems can deliver powerful insights that lead to better management and control of legal spend, and more strategic sourcing of outside counsel and other service providers.
- Risk mitigation: ELM centralizes legal and risk-related information to provide a clear line of sight across all matters. Set automated flags and real-time alerts to let users know which matters exceed certain risk thresholds, allowing legal staff to reduce financial and reputational impact in crisis situations.
Technology that improves performance
In their report 4 Legal Tech Trends for 2020, Gartner predicts that by 2023, 33% of corporate legal departments will have a dedicated legal technology expert to support increasing automation of core in-house workflows. This is indicative of the growing importance of the legal operations discipline, and the myriad legal operations processes that can be improved by adopting the right technology. The following are a few examples of legal operations processes where ELM can help improve performance and make legal department staff more efficient:
Electronic invoice processing
Electronic invoicing, or e-billing, reduces paper-based manual processes and drives efficiency by allowing invoices to be submitted, received, and processed digitally. Data entry and other structured tasks related to sorting, opening, organizing, delivering, and managing paper invoices are eliminated.
Billing guideline enforcement
E-billing automates the identification of billing errors, streamlines invoice review, and enforces outside counsel guidelines and fee arrangements. Rules-based automation checks and validates invoices and flags or rejects – based on your preference – noncompliant rates, fees, and other billing-related items. CLDs that enforce a diligent digital invoice review process see improvements in both guideline compliance and cost savings as a result.
Capturing matter data
ELM systems provide electronic forms or wizards tailored with pre-defined data fields to efficiently guide users through routine processes, such as opening matters. The data captured during these processes allows for aggregation of matters and other details from which all sorts of reports can be built. It is the combination of rich matter and invoice data that allows for complete transparency into every matter. An integrated reporting tool makes it possible to analyze this data in a myriad of ways, resulting in true business intelligence and insight to improve decision-making.
The ability to centrally manage legal and risk-related data in a single, secure workspace ensures that legal professionals have quick access to the information they need to effectively manage their entire portfolio of matters. Reducing the number of disparate systems improves workflow and strengthens collaboration among internal functions, with external partners, and across geographies, as teams working on a matter have immediate access to the most current related files or documents.
To learn more, download our few whitepaper Building the Business Case for an Enterprise Legal Management System, which offers details on how ELM systems deliver value and how to choose the right system for your organization’s needs.