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Enterprise Legal Management Software: A Guide for In-House Teams

Over the past ten years, we’ve seen a seismic shift in how in-house counsel gets work done. AI-powered enterprise legal management software has emerged and supercharged technology adoption in legal departments worldwide.

Now, legal ops teams need a robust ELM solution to unlock new efficiencies, reveal crucial insights, and provide proactive, data-driven strategies for their organizations.

What Is Enterprise Legal Management Software?

Enterprise legal management (ELM) software provides a comprehensive solution for in-house legal teams looking to boost their team’s productivity and efficiency. It transforms how you manage matters and spend.

ELM streamlines administrative tasks like opening matters and tracking their progress so your attorneys can focus on providing high-impact legal advice. With in-depth, real-time reporting, legal ops teams gain a 360-degree view of all legal department activities.

An ELM saves time by simplifying invoice review, automating accruals collection and budget reporting, and seamlessly integrating with accounts payable systems.

Legal teams also use ELMs to analyze their legal spend and identify potential cost savings.

The Components Of An Enterprise Legal Management System

The core components of an ELM system include matter management, legal spend management, and reporting.

Matter Management

Matter management acts as a centralized system for tracking and organizing all legal matters. It allows legal teams to label, categorize, and track the progress of each matter. This organization ensures that all necessary information is easily accessible.

The system also allows the analysis of matters based on various criteria like a matter’s complexity, the practice area, and who is involved. This helps with prioritizing work and allocating resources.

Legal Spend Management

A key aspect of legal spend management is e-billing. E-billing simplifies the process of receiving, reviewing, and paying legal invoices, all while ensuring compliance with outside counsel guidelines.

Legal spend management provides tools to analyze legal spending, identify trends, and uncover cost-saving opportunities. This analysis includes tracking spend by law firms and matter types.

Legal spend management also assists in setting and tracking budgets for different legal matters and automatically collecting monthly accruals, which helps legal ops teams maintain financial discipline and predictability.

Reporting Tools

ELM systems offer dynamic dashboards that provide real-time insights into legal operations, including spend analysis, matter progress, and outside counsel compliance rates. They enable the creation of customizable reports tailored to the legal department’s specific needs.

The Benefits of Enterprise Legal Management Tools

Despite unchanged headcounts, corporate legal teams are getting hit with more legal work than ever. At the same time, in-house budgets are flat or decreasing. All that adds up to legal departments that increasingly need to find ways to do more with less.

That’s where enterprise legal management software can help. Enterprise legal management solutions transform legal departments’ operations, enhancing efficiency, visibility, and strategic decision-making.

Improve Visibility

Use ELM to understand the work being done in your legal department and track spend across vendors by matter, practice area, and more.

To improve your legal operations, you first need a real-time look into what is happening in your department. That work starts with understanding your active legal matters. You need to know what vendors are working on those matters, what stage they’re at, and what their legal spend has been so far.

As more matters pile up, an ELM helps you identify who on your team has the bandwidth to take point on new work.

Finally, you need to understand your legal spend at any given moment from a matter level, a practice area level, and a department-wide view.

Armed with this end-to-end visibility, legal ops teams can transition from reactive to proactive management. They can spot inefficiencies, streamline operations, and ensure that all team members are on the same page and working cohesively towards aligned goals.

Streamline Administrative Work

Every moment in-house attorneys spend on administrative tasks is time taken away from addressing core legal matters. It’s like a talented chef spending more time washing dishes than crafting delicious meals.

Thanks to ELM software automation, an attorney no longer loses hours each weekday consumed by poring over invoices line by line. Neither are legal ops managers wasting time searching through a maze of disconnected emails and spreadsheets to piece together legal spend.

Instead, this software centralizes all the disparate pieces of information into a coherent, easy-to-access, single source of truth.

Taking work like invoice review off the plate of your in-house attorneys frees their time to focus on solving legal problems for your business. Reducing time spent on repetitive tasks like reporting and searching for information about ongoing matters also affords legal ops teams the space and time to focus on strategic initiatives with a deeper impact and a higher value for the legal team.

Enforce Outside Counsel Guidelines

AI-powered ELM tools make it easy to check invoice line items against outside counsel guidelines.

Manually checking every line of a hundred-item invoice against your outside counsel guidelines is functionally impossible. In practice, in-house attorneys eyeball the invoice’s bottom line, spot-check the big-ticket items, and then approve the invoice.

The result? A company paying over the odds for legal services due to issues like double billing, inadvertently paying for basic research, or inefficient staffing, like several fee earners billing time for attending the same meeting or call.

Brightflag’s enterprise legal management solution uses AI to automatically compare line items against outside counsel guidelines and flag discrepancies, overcharges, and violations.

This not only ensures transparency in billing but actively contributes to substantial cost savings over time.

Increase Value Received From Outside Counsel

ELM helps you benchmark your vendors, negotiate more cost-effective resourcing, and move work to lower-cost vendors.

You can use your ELM’s legal spend management reporting features to understand which law firms offer the best blend of efficiency and expertise to handle your legal matters.

With ELM, you can monitor and assess vendor performance against pre-determined benchmarks. For example, you might discover a particular firm is the best for your IP disputes based on metrics like their hourly rates and how quickly and efficiently they settle matters. With that information, you can approach the firm about taking on all of your intellectual property litigation and get better discounts, thanks to the volume of work you offer.

On the other hand, you may find another firm is using a blend of associates and partners that could be more cost-effective compared to their peers working on similar legal matters. Now, you can either negotiate better resourcing on future matters or move that business to a more cost-effective firm.

Set Realistic Budgets

ELM software makes it easy to track legal spend against your budget in real time.

Forecasting legal spend is difficult. Setting budgets at a matter, practice area, or department level without the data from a modern ELM is throwing darts blindfolded.

Using an ELM, you can immediately tap into your historical data to understand your run rate of spend within a specific matter type or practice area. You can use this to make data-driven assumptions about future spend and inform your finance team of the budget you need to effectively serve the business in future financial periods. But the value doesn’t stop there. Your ELM will also automatically track spend to budget and alert you if you’re going over so you can have proactive conversations with the legal team and with finance to course-correct.

Manage Accruals

Accruals, also known as Work-In-Progress (WIP), are an essential aspect of financial management for any corporate legal department. Handling unbilled estimates efficiently can significantly improve the partnership between legal and finance teams.

Modern ELM systems like Brightflag offer streamlined processes to manage accruals effectively. This starts with automated reminders to vendors to submit their accruals, eliminating the need for legal ops to manually follow up.

ELMs provide a secure, central portal where vendors can submit those accruals. That’s music to the ears of any legal ops pro who has wasted time tracking the back-and-forth conversations between their company and an outside vendor to get up-to-date accruals figures. It’s also better for vendors to have a consistent, organized, single source of truth for their financial obligations.

By leveraging an ELM system like Brightflag for accrual management, corporate legal departments can significantly enhance their partnership with finance teams. This approach streamlines the accrual process and ensures accuracy, compliance, and improved vendor relations, ultimately contributing to more effective financial management within the organization.

ELM Is The Next Step In The Digital Transformation Of Your Legal Operations

If you’re poised to lead your legal team into the future and wonder where to begin, a trusted and comprehensive ELM solution is your answer.

Start by exploring ELM solutions, understanding their features, and evaluating their impact. And when you’re ready to transform your legal operations, take Brightflag for a test drive.

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