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What is Enterprise Legal Management?
Enterprise legal management, or ELM, is a term that refers to software used by in-house legal teams to digitize their work and be more productive. By adopting enterprise legal management system, in-house legal teams are able to remove themselves from administrative work and focus on the practice of law. They also achieve greater visibility into their work, increase data accuracy, and ultimately better quantify and manage risk for the business. Enterprise legal management software typically is administered by legal operations, working in conjunction with counterparts from IT, finance, and compliance.
Components of Enterprise Legal Management
The enterprise legal management category typically is understood to include matter management, legal spend management (also called legal e-billing), and reporting and analytics. Enterprise legal management system may also include limited capabilities for managing legal documents and legal holds. Enterprise legal management software may be sold as a single solution or as multiple modules that are designed to work together. Either way, they should offer the following minimum capabilities:
Accepting and triaging requests from the business
A common challenge for General Counsel is understanding what demands are being placed on his or her team by the business. ELM software brings the entire process of engaging with the business into a single system of record, giving business users an easy way to submit requests (instead of emailing or calling) and the corporate legal department an easy way to triage requests. Ultimately, requests from the business are either accepted and converted to matters, or resolved without legal involvement.
Centralizing matter data (personnel, key dates, etc.)
One of the largest challenges faced by corporate legal departments is the fragmentation and siloing of information. Without a matter management system, information ends up in many different places, often individual computer hard drives and shared spreadsheets. This creates continuity risks for the legal department, not to mention security concerns. Modern matter management systems make it easy for any participant to add key data and documents to a secure cloud-based system, which is accessible anytime and from any device.
Standardizing the process for matter opening and closing
Sometimes it’s the simple things that make a world of difference. For too many organizations, the process of starting work on a new matter is unnecessarily complicated: back-and-forth approvals over email, a clunky user interface with too many required fields, and not enough visibility into how the process is progressing. The best software makes opening and closing legal matters easy by combining an easy-to-use interface with AI-powered recommendations, which eliminates guesswork.
Legal Spend Management
Enforcing budgets, fee arrangements, and outside counsel billing guidelines
Also known as legal e-billing, modern software digitizes everything related to getting billed by and paying outside counsel. The best software uses a combination of AI / machine learning and automation to streamline or even eliminate the many manual tasks associated with this work and helps to reduce legal costs by flagging billing guideline violations. According to multiple third-party research reports, this is the most widely used technology across all in house legal departments.
Integrating with finance systems of record
ELM software integrates with accounts payable software so that approved invoices can be sent to finance automatically. More sophisticated ELM software will also integrate with procure-to-pay software to support the enforcement of purchase order processes, including internal approvals.
Reviewing and approving law firm invoices
Legal invoice review is the task that in house counsel and legal operations love to hate, mostly because it’s highly repetitive work and doesn’t add value. Still, it’s critically important for maintaining fiscal discipline—and for reducing risk. ELM software automates most of legal invoice review and provides clear insights to the reviewing attorneys so they can exercise discretion easily and improve productivity.
Reporting and analytics
Reporting on matters (by type, risk, vendor, etc.)
These capabilities enable legal operations to replace countless spreadsheets and manual update processes with easy-to-use, on-demand reporting on matters. The best software allows users to save their own custom reports, and even to schedule these reports for automatic delivery to a selected group of users.
Reporting on vendor spend
ELM software helps both corporate legal departments and finance to better understand the actual and forecasted outside counsel spend, thus ensuring good financial discipline. Reports like top matters by spend, top vendors by spend, and spend versus budget all make vendor management easier.
Compare value for money of law firms
Ultimately, the C-suite cares about creating business value. To this end, modern software can provide leadership with insights into the effectiveness of their outside counsel spend, including highlighting opportunities to bring more work in house for a lower cost, to reduce the number or vendors being used, or to reallocate work to different vendors.
Evaluating Enterprise Legal Management Software
When evaluating enterprise legal management solutions, it’s important to weigh several different considerations. Of course, how each solution’s capabilities in the areas of matter management, legal spend management, and reporting align with your organization’s requirements is paramount. Other important considerations include each vendor’s organizational readiness to meet security and compliance requirements and its reputation for customer service. Brightflag has created an RFP template and RFP best practice guide to aid in-house corporate legal teams in evaluating and selecting enterprise legal software.
In the category of enterprise legal management, Brightflag is the #1-rated software on G2, the world’s largest marketplace where businesses can discover, review, and manage the technology they need. And in a recent third-party research study, customers rated Brightflag’s service, support, and responsiveness a perfect 5 out of 5. You can read verified, unbiased Brightflag reviews on G2’s website. Brightflag has also been recognized as a Hot Legal Tech vendor by Legal Operators, a leading expert community of legal operations professionals with significant experience in enterprise legal management and legal technology.
Popular Resources on Enterprise Legal Management
Insights From Brightflag
- Explaining Enterprise Legal Management and Why It Matters
- The Startup Advantage in Legal Technology
- 5 Legal Tech Truths Companies Can Trust For The Next 5 Years
- Gartner Market Guide for Enterprise Legal Management Solutions
- IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Enterprise Matter Management 2020 Vendor Assessment, in which Brightflag is named a Major Player
- IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Enterprise Legal Spend Management 2020 Vendor Assessment, in which Brightflag is named a Major Player
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