How to streamline your invoicing and legal spend management workflows with a legal workspace

Working with outside counsel and legal service providers is an important aspect of your work, as is handling the associated invoices. But they can be slow and painful processes.

To get the most out of your relationships with firms, reduce unnecessary legal spend and operate efficiently, it’s important that these workflows are optimized.

In this article, we outline how to streamline legal spend management and e-billing workflows so you can get time back and reduce spend.

Why you should prioritize streamlining your spend management and invoicing workflow

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • you’re using emails and spreadsheets to manage RFPs, set scope, and collaborate with outside counsel and it’s time consuming and slow
  • you use manual solutions like email and/or spreadsheet to keep on top of your invoices and budgets and are unsure whether or not they’re all accounted for
  • you struggle to have visibility across your spend against budget for matters or specific firms
  • it’s hard or time consuming to communicate the primary internal reasons for external spend
  • your spend is greater than you expect or you’re surprised by information in the invoices
  • the rest of your in-house legal workflow is housed across technology solutions separate from your e-billing and spend management, making it hard to have a collective view of all the legal work your team and business does

While in isolation these inefficiencies may not seem like a big deal, over a week those lost minutes can snowball into hours, resulting in data getting lost in the cracks or your legal team sacrificing time that could otherwise be spent on strategic work. And time = money – especially when you consider the average global annual salary range is from USD$176,500 to $554,901 for in-house legal professionals (2022 In-House Counsel Compensation Survey, Major, Lindsey & Africa). Not to mention the money spent on unnecessary line items when you don’t have complete control of your invoicing.

Having highlighted problem areas and hopefully fueled your motivation, the good news is that there are ways to address these issues, and with the right solution you can start quickly and get great long-term results.

Spend management and e-billing wins with a workspace approach

Twenty-eight percent of in-house legal professionals surveyed in The 2023 In-House Legal Technology Report spend three or more hours per day searching through emails and other systems to determine contract and matter history or advice from outside counsel, suggesting that removing basic friction and administrative overhead can go a long way.

Simply put, streamlining your invoicing and spend management workflows with a legal spend management platform that includes e-billing capabilities creates valuable efficiencies and visibility for your team while helping you control legal spend.

With e-billing and spend management in a legal workspace (a ‘workspace approach’) you can expect all the necessary capabilities for invoicing and spend management efficiency such as:

  • the ability to receive, centralize, review, and approve payment on invoices throughout the course of work
  • ability to track budget and payments in real-time and leverage easily accessible reports for data-driven legal operations. This includes the ability to analyze outsourced work by firm, matter, complexity, department, and a number of other attributes
  • the option for your legal service providers to upload invoices into the system so you don’t have to
  • RFP and scope of work management for more efficient selection of the right firm, and the ability to set expectations and avoid spend surprises from the outset
  • a suite of collaborative tools such as document sharing, in-app messaging, task management, and status tracking so you can effectively collaborate with both external and internal resources
  • flexible ways to work with your outside counsel so you can easily centralize data in your shared source of truth without introducing huge workflow changes and admin overhead
When it comes to wrangling outsourced work, including building a directory of your legal service providers, setting a scope of work, collaborating on matters and invoicing and reporting, learn best practice legal tech fundamentals as part of the Legal Tech Fundamentals Certification. It’s free and can be completed in your own time!
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Beyond spend management: a holistic approach with a legal workspace

While it’s great to be able to control your spend and work more efficiently with your firms by using a legal workspace, the true power of the workspace approach comes when we look at alternative options.

There are primarily two alternative approaches to a workspace when it comes to spend management:

  1. relying on dedicated e-billing point solutions; or
  2. homegrown approaches like emails or spreadsheets that are not built specifically to handle legal workflows

With regards to the first option, the 2023 In-house Legal Technology Report found that only 18 percent of legal teams that use dedicated e-billing point solutions report using its full functionality, while 44 percent cite concerns about lack of integration with other systems. As for the second option, the same report found that only 48 percent of those not using a dedicated and purpose-built legal technology platform say their software meets their needs.

So, when it comes to addressing spend management and invoicing inefficiencies, implementing a legal platform that provides the necessary features and is easy to use is important to get the full value out of your solution. But that’s not the whole story.

Neither approach provides a holistic solution to legal workflow, which can cause a reliance on multiple tools for different workflows, and thus inefficiencies – 61 percent of legal teams spend over one hour per day jumping between systems to gain a complete view of work and determine priorities, while 21 percent spend three hours or more (2023 In-house Legal Technology Report).

When we look at the time spent switching systems and concerns about integration, we see that using other tools for your internal work, separate from your spend management workflows, can actually create inefficiencies instead of alleviating them. Therefore, a holistic view of workflow optimization is an important consideration and where a workspace approach really comes into its own, incorporating multiple workflows – internal and external – into a single workspace without the need to bounce from system to system or worry about integrations.

That’s why a workspace approach to spend management and e-billing also delivers:

  • e-billing and spend management capabilities that are fully integrated, with robust matter, contract and document management capabilities (the bread and butter of your attorneys’ day-to-day work)
  • an intuitive interface that is easy to use so individual workflows such as invoicing reviews and approvals are speedy and non-disruptive, and adoption can be accomplished with minimal training
  • out-of-the-box integrations with tools such as Outlook, Gmail, Slack/MS Teams, Salesforce, and calendars so attorneys and LSPs can work the way they are used to while easily building a source of truth for projects, matters, and spend

Adopting a workspace approach to optimize your spend management and e-billing workflows maximizes the value from your chosen legal tech – providing all the necessary features to keep on top of spend, reduce administrative time on spend management, while also generating workflow efficiencies for your internal work.

We’re not done yet – let’s talk data

Implementing a workspace approach that streamlines internal as well as external workflows delivers value beyond the efficiency and visibility benefits of individual capabilities. In this instance, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, as a workspace approach enables your attorneys to focus on big picture, strategic, and data-driven work.

A workspace delivers consolidated and integrated workflows, including contracts and matters in one place, fostering a single source of truth. This allows seamless data sharing and the ability for insights to be easily surfaced and applied to strategic decision making.

Without a legal workspace, your contracts, matters and spend workflows, and reports, end up spread across multiple solutions, desktops, and parties, opening the door to poor reporting as well as risk, and inefficiencies across your legal function beyond just e-billing. The 2023 In-house Legal Technology Report even found that 30 percent of respondents spend three hours or more per day compiling assets needed for reporting. Having your data in one place, with the same fields and structure, removes that extra work and time.

And, with less time wasted, more structured data, and easy-to-use visual reports in a workspace interface, you’ll quickly have the valuable data you need to make strategic decisions about outsourced work such as performance and whether there are opportunities to bring work in-house. Further, you’ll have holistic data readily available for strategic, high-value conversations regarding budget, and the value of your legal team.

Ready to learn more?

If you wish to discover how to better your engagement with outside counsel, take control of unruly legal spend or consolidate your tech stack, you can learn more about LawVu’s spend management capabilities within the legal workspace here. You can also learn more about working with firms, invoicing and spend as part of our dedicated course within the Legal Tech Fundamentals Certification. It’s free and takes only takes a few minutes to complete!

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