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Secrets of Successful Legal Management for Corporate Legal and Insurance Claims Departments
Learn how to leverage the power of technology for more effective case management and outside legal expense control.
Legal management in the 21st century has grown increasingly complex. Multiple teams, vendors, and complex caseloads require a move from “traditional” management to a streamlined, technology-based solution. The real value of technology, however, comes when you can customize, consult, and manage teams and cases in a system built specifically for legal and insurance management. In today’s environment, using off-the-shelf products or programs not specifically built for legal management just won’t cut it.
Here are four secrets of successful legal management for corporate legal and insurance claims departments:
1. Gain greater visibility of all matters with a single-source matter management solution
2. Automate billing enforcement and validation with E-billing
3. Share knowledge across teams with collaboration tools
4. Gain control over legal-support vendor costs with a vendor invoice management system
Are you able to manage your matters from a single-source solution? Can you control invoicing through E-billing? Are you able to use collaboration tools to communicate with your teams? Are you able to coordinate vendor costs? If not, you’re losing valuable time and money by letting important details slip through your process. We’ll explain each of these secrets in greater detail and show you how you can maximize your legal management process through a single technology solution.
Secret #1: Matter Management — There Is a Better Way
Managing legal matters across multiple caseloads and teams can turn a straightforward process into a case management nightmare. Typical matter management is done through decentralized storage and disparate tools, so legal teams are left working on multiple screens and email, individual hard drives, and numerous internal systems in order to access the details for a single legal matter. Inconsistent data fields and validations compound the issue. The secret to better management involves centralizing all matter data into one single-source solution.
How a Single-Source Solution Streamlines Matter Management
When matter management is housed in one easy-to-use, single-source solution, you gain complete visibility of a matter and have clear oversight over your entire legal portfolio. The key is to find a system that allows for intuitive matter entry forms and data validation.
By having matter management on a Web-based program, you can give assigned team members access to the same file, regardless of their office location or status as in-house or outside counsel. Moreover, all of the legal teams involved will realize a more fluid form of communication, which ultimately helps everyone know the strategic direction and cost expectations for a case.
What to Look for:
Before making the decision on which matter management system to go for, make sure the option you choose includes the following features:
Secret #2: E-Billing — Gain Control Over Your Billing Process
If you have any involvement in the invoicing process for multiple legal or insurance claims departments, you are all too familiar with the challenge of enforcing consistent compliance for billing guidelines. The sheer amount of billing volume on large cases, coupled with human error and a lack of staff-review time, often makes billing guidelines merely a “suggestion” that is rarely followed. Unfortunately, lack of compliance with guidelines can add up to a loss of noticeable revenue.
E-billing is a system designed specifically to make compliance automatic and consistent. By setting your validation and auditing rules in a system, each entry will be scanned for accuracy and flagged if it’s not complete. What does increased compliance mean? It means you can reduce your legal costs by up to 10% per year, just through automatic and consistent enforcement of billing guidelines.
The single largest cost to legal and insurance claim departments is outside law firm billings. Given this reality, it makes sense to automate the billing process as a way to centralize and enforce billing systems. At a minimum, firms can expect a 3% savings on total legal spend from electronically processed invoices, simply by enforcing compliance to counsel guidelines, ensuring timekeeper accuracy, and by capturing duplicate invoices and line items. By switching to E-billing, some companies have noticed larger legal spend savings — up to 10%.
What to Look for:
If you switch to E-billing, you’ll want to ensure that some critical features are included to help you set rules and have automatic validation for all invoices. Specifically, look for the following:
Invoice Management Solutions
Manual entry of legal invoices is time-consuming and costly. On large cases, it doesn’t take long for invoices to grow into a pile, awaiting review. As duplicate invoices come in, the potential for overpayment increases.
When you switch from manual-invoice entry to electronic entry, your vendors and law firms will be able to upload invoices with just one click. Invoice management is a powerful tool that can reduce review and processing time by 40 to 60%. That’s a significant time savings.
Automatic Validation and Rule Auditing
One of the most important features with E-billing is the ability to set rules that flag critical invoice violations, which allows your staff to resolve them online before submitting an invoice for review. You’ll want a system that allows you to easily configure review hierarchies from a management level, matter-type level, or on a matter-specific level. This feature ensures that the correct invoice is delivered to the correct reviewer in the proper order.
Timekeeper Management to Ensure Accurate Billable Rates
Unnecessary conflicts can arise from lack of clear communication between law firms and clients. But by switching to a robust E-billing system that allows real-time collaboration, you’ll be able to preapprove new timekeepers or increased rates, view together any bills or specific items in question, proactively explain reasons for write-downs or concerns, and immediately address issues. Timekeeper management also allows access to rate histories, evaluations, and any other comments on new firms and timekeepers that may be helpful when determining which team to assign to a matter or group of matters.
Also Keep in Mind:
In addition to the above features, look for an E-billing system that offers the following:
Secret # 3: Improve Efficiency and Be More Accurate by Using Web-Based Collaboration Tools
When coordinating multiple teams for complex cases, knowledge alone won’t make the project successful. A team needs to collaboratively share its information and tap into resources from other firms. The third secret to successfully managing legal teams is finding a solution that allows your members to work through a shared platform, and more importantly, allows them to tap into a central database that provides information crucial to cases, such as historical rulings by a judge, or an expert witness database.
What to Look for:
Before deciding on a collaboration tool, ensure that the program you choose allows for global communication and accesses resources across firms and regions.
Mediators and Judges Database
Want to know a huge way you can save time? Know beforehand who a judge or mediator will be for a case so that your team can adequately prepare. When you are comparing tools, choose a program that offers a central repository for reviews on judges and mediators — and draws information from law firms across the country. Tapping into a resource that offers past histories of judges and mediators is a powerful way to boost knowledge about a case and benefit from other firms’ knowledge.
Expert Witness Database
Next to law firm fees, expert witness fees cost more than any other expense. Witnesses are an investment, and researching witnesses can become incredibly time consuming. Moreover, the stakes are high: To improve your chances of winning a case, you need to make sure the witnesses your team uses are competent, come across well before a jury, and can be competently prepared during cross-examination.
Think about the advantage your team would have if they could access a database that gives detailed information about expert witnesses, including curriculum vitae, depositions, and hourly rates, and also allows for comments by other users. Being able to retrieve information on expert witnesses — from a trusted, collaborative database — gives a team a huge advantage.
Threaded Conference Rooms for Communication with Peers
In large firms, rarely are all teams under one roof. To enhance collaboration, your team needs the ability to meet from any location. Collaboration tools can help. Look for a system that allows members to meet by using threaded conference rooms. By using one central number and accessing the same screen in real time, multiple teams from various locations can meet, discuss, and solve.
Secret # 4: Get a Handle on Legal Support Vendor Costs
If you’re only focused on law firm billings when you look at managing costs, you’re overlooking an expensive part of a firm’s expenses: legal support vendor costs. With large caseloads, the amount of vendors involved is complex, and it’s too easy for mistakes, inaccurate quotes, and the wrong rates to slip through. To give your firm an extra tool for managing costs and having a complete picture of where dollars are going, you need to have a clear grasp on your legal support vendor billings.
See Everything in the Same Picture When You Link E-Billing and Legal Support Vendor Billing
If you’re trying to keep track of legal support vendor billings and you’re managing the invoicing process electronically, you can make the whole process more efficient by linking your E-billing and legal support vendor costs into one system. It is now possible to find a tool that works directly with vendors and manages quotes, RFP needs, and proposal submissions.
What to Look for:
Just think about the advantage you could have if your legal support vendor billings could be managed from the beginning of the process — the RFP — to the final invoicing stage. Here’s what you need to maximize your firm’s legal support vendor billing process:
Putting It All Together: Finding a Management Solution That Fits
When you’re ready to choose a legal management solutions company, you want to go with a trusted provider that will offer everything you and your team need, in one comprehensive package. Acuity Management Solutions is your answer. Started by a team of lawyers and designed for legal and insurance teams, the complete suite Acuity offers will drastically simplify, streamline, and produce cost savings for your operation.
Acuity’s single-source management solution, E-billing suite, comprehensive collaboration tools, and legal support vendor billing solutions, seamlessly combine every tool you need in one easy-to-use system. If you already have a certain structure or technology in place, you can choose which Acuity product will enhance your operations, and if you’re looking for a complete solution, Acuity has you covered.
To learn more about Acuity’s products, visit the website to get an in-depth tour of each product. www.acuitymanagement.com gives comprehensive solutions, provides resources and a frequently-updated blog, and contains an online portal where clients can manage their projects.
To get started, contact Acuity today or visit the website at www.acuitymanagement.com to learn more.