- Enterprise Legal Management Software: Key Benefits and Choosing One
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The legal industry as a whole has experienced quite a few changes in recent years. From increased demand for remote work from lawyers and legal professionals (working from home during the pandemic proved to be quite attractive) to “The Great Resignation” and an overall changing culture (clients having increased digital expectations, navigating adoption of legal technology), it’s no wonder that law firms around the world have had difficulty keeping up.
Enterprise law firms are facing these same challenges, but perhaps the most prevalent challenge is the increased expectation from corporate legal consumers for large firms to “do more with less”—spend less money, use fewer resources, but somehow still continue to provide an exceptional level of service. This idea has forced large firms to take a close look at their processes and procedures and prioritize efficiency to a new level without sacrificing quality. This means incorporating more types of professionals in the firm—individuals with business and technological expertise as well as legal—to ensure modern business challenges, such as enterprise digital transformation, as an example, are met. Considering “do more with less” is a reality for large law firms, this becomes a monumental task that’s easier said than done.
Legal software, of course, plays a significant role in that initiative. Even though it’s not a magic bullet by any means, having a reliable, strong tech stack is an absolute must. Legal enterprise management software is often at the core of large law firm operations, so it’s essential that the right solution is implemented in the beginning and that its functionality is fully taken advantage of.
What is Enterprise Legal Management (ELM) Software?
Enterprise legal management software is a tool that helps law firms manage a large number of legal matters from start to finish. Building off of the idea that corporate legal firms need to do more with less, time savings is a huge draw.
An enterprise legal management solution comes with automation and the ability to create streamlined workflows to save time in every aspect of an enterprise law firm’s operations, including:
- Transaction management, including built-in legal e-billing software that streamlines invoice creation and allows online bill payments
- Collaboration between internal legal teams and external legal counsel
- Spend and budget management
- Matter management (litigation and disputes, intellectual property and trademarks, licensing, etc.)
- Legal compliance and governance
- Employment, claims, real estate, procurement, and sourcing where applicable
- Knowledge management and e-discovery
Enterprise legal management software provides one source of truth for an enterprise law firm, where all data, workflows, processes, policies, and procedures can live and be accessed in the way they were intended to. Some legal entity management software provides an all-in-one solution that covers the above points within the software itself, while others are built to integrate with other solutions, such as legal document management software, legal accounting software, and others, to provide a seamless cross-platform experience. Whether you choose an all-in-one solution or a solution that is built to integrate will depend on your law firm’s current tech stack.
How Can Legal Management Software Help Large Legal Departments?
Legal management software can be a valuable tool for optimizing efficiency, streamlining operations, improving compliance, and reducing costs for large legal departments.
Enterprise law firms have complex legal technology needs, and this is because they often deal with thousands of internal and external legal matters every single year. According to a research study conducted by Hobson & Company that interviewed various C-suite legal executives at several major US corporations, the biggest business challenges that these legal departments face include:
- Lack of standardized processes
- Inefficiency with systems to manage outside counsel
Lack of standardized processes often result in several consequences, including missed deadlines, missing documentation, and lack of true visibility into operations and legal spend.
With regards to managing outside counsel, the visibility issue is compounded: manual management often results in decreased productivity of in-house corporate legal teams as they have to get updates on matters through means such as email or phone, and if outside counsel relies on billable time, every contact adds to the final cost.
The solution that legal management software provides to large legal departments is high visibility and increased efficiency. It does this by being able to integrate with software in a legal department’s current tech stack, making information available within these systems global in that it remains updated no matter which system a user is accessing. With regards to information, when integrated with other software solutions, the legal management system provides a single source of truth for everyone accessing the system, eliminating silos and providing full visibility into legal matters and legal spend.
How Enterprise Legal Management Solutions Helps Solve Business Challenges
The challenges that enterprise legal firms face fall within the categories of:
- Legal spend management
- Legal matter management
- Contract lifecycle management (CLM)
- Data and performance reporting
- Knowledge management
- Compliance management
The following table breaks down the main challenge(s) in each category and gives context to how a legal management tool for an enterprise law firm can assist in solving these challenges:
Enterprise Law Firm Category
How Enterprise Legal Management Software Helps
Legal spend management
Keeping track of spending for internal and outside counsel regarding costs and matters
Provides integrated legal spend management software to track spend activity and provide analytics and reports for improvement identification
Legal Matter Management
Managing workflows, documents, knowledge transfer, collaboration, and efficiency when dealing with inside and outside stakeholders pertaining to a legal matter
Centralizes information through software integrations, provides a single source of truth for all stakeholders, and provides project management capabilities & automations to organize workflows, enhance collaboration, and reduce admin
Contract Lifecycle Management
Too much manual work reviewing contracts, lack of visibility, inconsistent or slow feedback/approval workflow
Built-in or ability to integrate with CLM software, which typically uses AI/ML to create & optimize contracts, enforce a consistent workflow, and provide full visibility into terms/clauses
Data and Performance Reporting
Haphazard data and performance reporting due to lack of software integration
Provides in-depth reporting and analytics via a visual dashboard interface for easy data interpretation
Lack of centralized knowledge equals issues with competency, quality of advice provided, and slows workflow
Provides a centralized location for law firm knowledge management through built-in software or an integration
Lack of visibility into state or provincial compliance guidelines, environmental, social and governance (ESG), inconsistencies in employee training & knowledge of business practices
Provides a single source of truth for regulatory compliance guidelines, company standards on ESG & ethics, and standardized business practices
Enterprise Legal Service Providers
As Forbes points out in their three article series, Enterprise Legal Service Providers (ELP) have been growing exponentially in recent years in order to help enterprise law firms address the challenges that they are facing. These entities have access to significant capital and resources and can deliver services that meet the expanding expectations placed on corporate law firms. These organizations don’t just consist of legal professionals but rather a mix of business, technology, and legal expertise to address a wide range of challenges that may not be entirely based in law but require legal counsel to execute properly (e.g., digital transformation and data security).
What this highlights is that robust and effective enterprise legal management software is even more important since if corporate law firms involve large outside organizations to help with legal counsel in different areas, it’s more important than ever to have one integrated system that administrators can retain full control over, while still allowing needed access to documentation and other information to those who need it.
How to Choose the Best Corporate Legal Management System
It may be clear that enterprise legal management software is needed for your law firm, but with so many different corporate legal management systems on the market, it can be difficult to choose a solution that works for your firm.
Here are the crucial factors you need to consider.
Enterprise legal management software worth it's salt should have extensive automation functionality. After all, the main point of the software is to save time and improve productivity, and built-in ML and AI capabilities can do just that.
Look for software that offers robust automations that reduce tedious manual tasks, such as:
- Filling in client details on contracts and other documents
- Updating information with integrated systems (so when one system has information updated, it’s updated globally (on every other relevant system)
- Sending automatic notifications for deadlines, upcoming meetings, and other important reminders
2. Ease of Use
The corporate legal management system you choose should be easy to use and have a user-friendly interface that is intuitive and easy to navigate. The last thing you want is a complex, unintuitive system that requires extensive onboarding. The benefits of the software should be made clear to the professionals within your firm that will be using it, and onboarding (whether firm or vendor provided) should be prioritized.
Being able to work off of a template rather than create a document from scratch provides extensive time-savings for your firm. Enterprise legal management software often allows you to create templates for various types of documents that can be used later as needed. Contracts, for instance, can have clauses and terms automatically filled in the appropriate spots depending on the situation.
Being able to visualize data regarding your law firm, such as performance, spending, and workflow metrics, is invaluable from an efficiency perspective. Visual dashboards provide an easy way to get a bird’s eye view of an enterprise law firm’s operations and workflows without having to manually aggregate data from different sources.
There are a couple of important security considerations to keep in mind when choosing a corporate legal management tool:
- How data is stored and where
- How users access the system
Regulatory bodies in the United States, Canada, and beyond have standards regarding data storage of sensitive information that applies to enterprise law firms just as much as smaller law firms. The ABA, for instance, has a confidentiality of information rule that applies to all client information, while Canada has PIPEDA guidelines that govern information transfer.
As a further consideration, law firms are an attractive target for phishing and other scams due to the value of their data and financial assets. This means that multi-factor authentication, where a user has to perform more than one authentication step before being able to log into a piece of software, is essential. In addition, administrators being able to restrict access to users to only the information within the system they need to access is paramount; if an employee with a very limited level of access is the victim of a phishing scam, then only a small part of the enterprise legal management system would be compromised, and easier to deal with than a full breach.
In addition to legal management system security, all law firm employees should be provided with basic cybersecurity training. This will help with awareness of common scams and help build a culture within the firm that views security as important.
Of course, pricing is always an important consideration, especially when enterprise law firms are under increasing pressure to cut costs. The fact of the matter is that when considering pricing, it’s important to balance features offered with the average cost. Using a visual comparison tool from a reputable source such as Gartner or Capterra will allow you to determine the average cost of popular legal management solutions for enterprise organizations and determine which features are the most valuable for your firm. From there, you can get an average cost of the tools that offer the features you want.
Enterprise Legal Management Tool Roundup: Considerations for Your Firm
1. Thomson Reuters Legal Tracker
Regarding enterprise legal management software, Thomson Reuters Legal Tracker is a top legal management tool that offers an excellent solution. Thomson Reuters Legal Tracker helps manage the entire legal matter lifecycle and provides ample matter-specific functionality and workflow assistance.
With a mix of innovative technology and industry expertise, they provide vital information to some leading decision-makers in markets like finance, risk, law, and media. Their organization is powered by one of the most trusted news sources in the world.
Some of the solutions that Thomson Reuters Legal Tracker provides include:
- Streamlining legal research - You can access a comprehensive online legal research platform with a deep collection of primary and secondary law, news, analysis, and practice materials.
- Legal guidance - Access expert legal advice from their attorneys, including many former law firm partners and in-house counsel.
- Simplified litigation - Get real-time case updates and analysis, as well as automated docket management and court rules.
Brightflag is a leading enterprise legal management software for law firms and in-house legal departments. They help their customers manage their legal spending, improve operational efficiency, and increase transparency and collaboration.
With Brightflag by your side, you will have a partner who can handle the day-to-day tasks and is excellent at long-term planning. Their team of product experts is available 24/7 to provide answers and solutions whenever issues arise, no matter what time it is globally.
A dedicated customer success manager is responsible for helping every Brightflag customer clarify, prioritize, and achieve their strategic objectives.
Solutions provided by Brightflag include:
- Legal e-billing - Send and track accurate bills to your clients with ease
- Legal spend management - Stay on top of your law firm's spending
- Enterprise legal management - Improve efficiency and collaboration within your legal department.
3. Acuity ELM
With over three decades of experience, Mitratech is a leading global technology partner for corporate legal departments, risk & compliance teams, and HR professionals. By utilizing their cutting-edge software solutions, their clients have increased productivity while controlling expenses and mitigating risks. Their goal is to help organizations deepen alignment, increase visibility, and spur collaboration across the enterprise.
They work with clients to develop, design and deliver legal, risk management, and human resource software solutions. In other words, their departments can be hotbeds of efficiency, innovation, and greatness for the whole company.
- Legal - To optimize your processes, resources, and legal project management, use the right-sized solutions.
- Risk and Compliance - Mitratech provides comprehensive compliance solutions that give you visibility and oversight into today's growing risks.
- Human Resources - Mitratech understands that HR success depends on having the right tools. That's why they offer proven solutions that work and can be adapted to meet any future needs.
- Workflow Automation - Workflow automation means you use machines to do the work people used to do. This is faster and cheaper, and it also reduces the chances of mistakes being made.
Clio is more than just a tech company. They are a team of legal professionals, entrepreneurs, and technologists passionate about improving lawyers' lives. And it shows—Clio has been ranked as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers and Best Small & Medium Employers.
What started as a single product has now grown into an ecosystem of apps and integrations working together to power the law business. Their products handle everything from time tracking and billing to matter management and client intake, giving their customers a complete picture of their firms—and helping them run it more effectively.
Clio is used by over 200,000 customers in 90 countries, ranging from solo practitioners to Fortune 500 companies.
Some of the solutions that Clio offers are:
- Law practice management - You can manage your company and team up productively from a single location.
- Client intake and CRM - Keep your firm's client intake process organized and straightforward.
- Document automation - Automate the tedious and time-consuming process of drafting.
Clio also integrates with AltFee for easy client information synchronization between the two platforms. If the client contact information is updated in either system, it will update seamlessly between both platforms to keep information consistent and up-to-date. This eliminates inconsistencies, provides peace of mind, and helps ensure that client information is always correct no matter which system you access.
Enterprise legal management software is a must for large law firms to meet the ongoing challenges that face them as time goes on. Corporate enterprise law firms often delve into many different areas of business law, meaning they must especially focus on being as agile and efficient as possible to avoid roadblocks. In addition, as the corporate legal industry continues to evolve and continue to integrate more and more with business technology, the need to have a single source of truth for documentation, processes, policies, and procedures will only increase in importance. This is where enterprise legal management software provides a solution.
Speaking of a single source of truth, many law firms, both large and small, are delving more and more into alternative fee arrangements. The main benefit of AFAs for corporate law firms is similar to smaller firms—giving their clients price certainty before work starts. To manage your AFAs effectively, you’ll need software that can support different pricing structures, allow for collaboration between members of your firm, and of course, integrate with enterprise legal management software. That software is AltFee.
If you’re ready to dive deeper into an AFA pricing solution for your enterprise firm, Get a demo from AltFee today.