Matter management for in-house legal

As legal teams adjust to working in an ever-changing corporate environment and battle to manage increasing matters and contracts workloads, having efficient matter management has become vital for today’s busy in-house legal departments to not only increase productivity and operate efficiently, but reduce stress as well.

If this is your first time reading about matter management, don't worry, we've got some good news - you're most likely already doing it. The even better news is there are so many ways to improve how you're doing it.

What is matter management?

A matter can be thought of as the nucleus of your legal work. Matter management comprises every element of running a corporate legal practice. It determines how you and your team engage with each new piece of work, how you collaborate, and even the ways in which you view that work. A piecemeal matter management workflow will likely see you move across multiple apps and tools to find the information you need, you'll be chasing people up to see their progress, digging in your email for answers to questions you didn't even know you asked, and trying to get a grasp of workloads. Nevermind the chaos that ensues when someone goes on vacation! Overall, without a centralized way to see and manage work, your legal function may feel a general sense of disconnect from one another.

A powerful matter management tool can be the single source of truth that ties all your internal and external activities together, and streamlines your processes. From intake and triage, to document management and actionable data and analytics. It is to legal what a CRM is to marketing or sales, and without it as an anchor you may feel that element of chaos creeping into your department.

Why is matter management important?

Consider how long it takes to find a document using your email search function, a minute or two? Not too bad. But, as 28 percent report in The 2023 In-House Legal Technology Report, those minutes are more likely to be over three hours per day or more. Multiply this over the course of a day, or week and suddenly we're looking at hours lost. For a high performing legal function those minutes or hours could be the difference between bliss and burnout. Matter management is important because efficiency is important, but it has many other benefits as well:

  • Matter management solutions give your team the data it needs to properly articulate the value of your legal function
  • It gives legal leaders the transparency and visibility they need into workloads and work in progress as well as easy access to data to participate in strategic business conversations
  • It enables your team to seamlessly collaborate, balance and hand off work
  • The sheer wealth of data provides your legal team with a holistic top-down view which enables you to be in the right place at the right time, or get way down into the weeds of an issue if need be
  • By centralizing your workspace as opposed to operating across multiple tools, you gain complete visibility over the work in play while drastically reducing the risk to your organization
  • Lets teams easily share and re-use legal knowledge and IP
  • It enables the wider business to access important legal information such as an FAQ, or a self-serve function for those lower risk tasks, so you can focus on more high-value strategic work
  • All of these combined means that your legal function will be able to work at the speed befitting a modern organization

These are just some of the benefits of a matter management solution, with many more being detailed in our white paper The True Value of Matter Management.

What is matter management vs case management

When it comes to legal matter management and case management software, confusion often sparks as the two are spoken about synonymously, so let's set the record straight. Matter management is distinct from case management in several ways. The first being case management is typically adopted to manage the high volume of paperwork associated with litigation - as a means to file and store documents associated with each case. Whereas matter management is specific to in-house legal functions. Matter management is also far more comprehensive than case management. Reason being, it accounts for the diverse and extensive activities carried out and the oversight required by an in-house legal team - both internally and when outside counsel is involved.

What are the key components of an effective matter management solution?

While you might consider any improvement to be a good improvement, matter management is one aspect of legal ops where the devil really is in the details. As we learnt above, small inefficiencies can often snowball into big problems if allowed to. In much the same way, implementing just any solution as opposed to the right one can lead you to a great deal of trouble down the line. Remember, if implemented right a matter management solution can be the conduit which brings your whole legal function together – creating a connected legal function for a more productive, engaged, and impactful in-house legal team.

And that's why when looking to implement a matter management solutions we believe there are a few non-negotiables:

  1. A system purpose-built for in-house legal rather using software intended to support case management, or one that favors workflows with outside counsel above your own in-house work, so productivity and efficiency is optimal
  2. Easily configurable matter types, data fields, and legal request (intake) forms, so so you have all the information and context you need to triage and do the work, with far less time wasting and back and forth
  3. A user interface that makes it easy to action and keep on top of day-to-day work efficiently while being able to see and manage workloads across the entire team
  4. Collaboration and secure document management is key - you should be able to loop in, assign and share work with ease. The tool you select should also enable your team to easily search and use information and internal knowledge and policies.
  5. You should be able to also collaborate with external counsel, easily manage invoices and spend, and allow the wider business to self-service.
  6. A matter management solution should be able to seamlessly integrate with other tools in-house counsel live in, for example Gmail, Outlook, and Word. Extra efficiencies will come from integrations with other common tools like Slack, or teams and the likes of Sharepoint and Salesforce.
  7. Easy to use, data-rich reporting and analytics so legal teams can make smarter decisions.
  8. Increased security to ensure that you can operate comfortably knowing your data and client data will be safely and securely stored.

If all of these are in place, you can guarantee your matter management solution will be streamlined and offer you the best chance to transform your workflows. Taking your legal function from organized chaos to methodical, systematic and orderly. Much more relaxing if you ask us!

What's the best management software for in-house legal?

Matter management software that supports all the work legal does, such as a legal workspace, means legal functions can consolidate systems and work smarter to get time back. It also means contracts and matters can be managed together in one place - which makes sense given it’s the bread and butter of legal’s day-to-day work. A legal workspace approach also enables total visibility and control over all of legal’s work, including matters, and enables collaboration with both the wider business and outside counsel, while becoming a rich source of easily accessible and actionable reporting and insights. So with a legal workspace approach to matter management, you can get time back in your day without having to switch systems, and reduce risk from scattered workflows.

How do I learn more about better matter management?

Join the many other legal professionals in our course Matter Management 101, as part of The Connected Legal Certification.

Learn more about LawVu's matter management capabilities

Combine any or all of our matter and contract management, vendor engagement, and insights & reporting capabilities to unleash the power of the full workspace platform.

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