Matter management refers to the systematic approach and method used in overseeing legal matters, particularly within corporate legal departments or law firms. It encompasses processes, practices, and tools to organise, monitor, and track all aspects of a legal case or matter. Effective matter management ensures optimised resource usage, streamlined processes, and improved outcomes in legal proceedings.
At its core, legal matter management is the central system around which all legal operations revolve. It involves managing case details, documents, communications, and tasks related to a particular legal matter.
Fragmented Information: In the absence of a centralised system, information may be scattered across multiple platforms.
Communication Gaps: Misunderstandings or miscommunications can hinder case progress.
Manual Processes: Relying on manual operations can be time-consuming and error-prone.
At the heart of effective legal matter management lies legal technology. This type of technology and software serves as a pivotal tool in reducing the vulnerabilities inherent in manual systems, ensuring that legal processes are both streamlined and robust.
Centralised Case Repository: A single source of truth where all case-related documents, notes, and communication are stored, ensuring easy access and retrieval. This centralised system of record ensures that all activities relating to the matter are easy to access.
Triage: Prioritising matters based on urgency, importance, and resources available. This ensures that critical matters receive immediate attention and that the correct subject matter expert is assigned to the task.
Collaboration and Communication: Streamlining interactions between internal and external stakeholders to ensure clarity, prevent miscommunication, and foster teamwork.
Monitoring and Reporting: Keeping track of case progress, ensuring milestones are met, and generating regular reports for internal or client review.
Risk Mitigation: With effective management, potential legal and operational risks are spotted early and adequately addressed.
Streamlined Processes and Increased Efficiency: Organised workflows eliminate redundancies and expedite the case handling process.
Data-Driven Insights and Improved Decision-Making: Analytics from matter and case management systems can provide insights into team performance, trends, and areas for improvement.
Enhanced Communication and Collaboration: Integrated communication tools promote seamless interactions, reducing chances of missed messages or miscommunication.
Matter management systems, especially in the form of specialised software, are becoming increasingly important for legal professionals and corporate organisations. While manual systems might be adequate for smaller teams or less intricate cases, larger and more dynamic legal operations necessitate the use of software solutions. These types of digital platforms offer functionalities that manual systems can't match, providing scalability and efficiency. With all processes relating to legal matters organised and streamlined, these systems ensure efficient management of resources, communications, and data. Implementing such software-driven systems can dramatically enhance the way legal matters are handled, ensuring precision, accessibility, and productivity.
Choosing the right software is paramount. Key considerations include customisation options, integration capabilities with other tools or systems, user-friendly interfaces for easy navigation, and robust reporting functionalities that provide insightful data analysis.
Understanding how other organisations have integrated and benefited from matter management systems can be illuminating. Analysing case studies can offer valuable insights into the potential benefits and best practices when implementing such systems, ensuring that they are tailor-fitted to the specific needs of the firm or department. Software providers should be able to share case studies to help showcase their capabilities.
Any new software should not upend existing workflows but rather enhance them. Therefore, it's essential to select a solution that can be customised to the firm's needs and seamlessly integrated into current practices, minimising disruption and learning curves.
Transitioning to a software-driven matter management system will require some adjustments. To ensure a smooth transition, provide comprehensive user training sessions. To foster consistent use, it's beneficial to employ strategies such as regular check-ins, establishing user feedback loops to identify and address issues, and incentivising system adoption to drive engagement and familiarity.
Identify Matter Categories: Group matters into broad categories like 'contract disputes', 'personal injury', relevant to the needs of the organisation.
Differentiate Matters Based on Nature and Complexity: Not all cases within a category will have the same level of complexity. Some may require expert interventions while others are straightforward.
Create a Hierarchy for Classification: Streamline case assignment and handling by creating a hierarchy based on complexity, importance, or other relevant parameters.
Gather Data Documentation: Every case requires comprehensive data collection. Efficient documentation systems ensure that all necessary information is available when needed.
Collect Relevant Information Efficiently: Utilise tools and systems that speed up the data collection process and minimise errors.
Implement Document Management Systems: Streamline document access, sharing, and storage.
Legal Triage: As before, prioritise cases ensuring the most crucial matters are dealt with first.
Assign Tasks and Responsibilities: Clear task assignments prevent overlap and ensure every aspect of a case is handled.
Communication and Collaboration: Use tools to enhance stakeholder communication.
Facilitate Cross-Functional Collaboration: Engage different departments or experts when needed, ensuring the best outcome for the case.
Monitor and Progress Tracking: Use tools that provide real-time insights into case progress.
Implement Milestones and Checkpoints: Break down the case timeline into measurable milestones.
Real-time Tracking and Reporting: Regularly update stakeholders on case progress.
Risk Assessment and Mitigation: Continuously evaluate potential risks and have strategies ready for mitigation.
Ocado Group, a leading online grocery retailer and solution provider, faced productivity bottlenecks stemming from an inefficient legal case management system. Headed by Amy Brookbanks, the team identified these challenges in the laborious processes of triaging legal requests and the lack of transparency in updating and tracking these requests.
To address these issues, they implemented the Plexus Matter Management module, which was tailored to sort and triage Ocado’s specific legal support requests. Additionally, a custom app was designed to handle the complexities of Ocado's contract approval processes. This technology overhaul streamlined the legal intake and approval procedures, ensuring that only high-risk triggers demanded the attention of the legal team. Once contracts received the necessary nods, they were digitally signed and archived within Plexus, providing a centralised repository and complete audit trail. The rollout of this transformative solution included intensive workshops, continuous feedback loops, and a widespread internal marketing campaign.
The result? Faster response times to legal inquiries, reduction of unnecessary communication, and a more strategic allocation of the legal team’s time, emphasising their role as business allies rather than just administrative support.
In the modern legal landscape, efficient matter management is paramount for ensuring optimal outcomes. This requires not just a combination of technology and human expertise but also an ongoing commitment to refining processes. Below are best practices that legal departments can adopt to enhance their matter management efficiency:
Why It’s Important: Repetitive tasks, such as data entry or status updates, can be time-consuming and error-prone when done manually. By automating these tasks, legal professionals can dedicate more time to legal work with a higher ROI.
Implementation Tips: Use legal management software that offers automation capabilities. Identify routine tasks within the legal process and set up workflows to handle them automatically, ensuring consistency and freeing up time for higher-value work.
Why It’s Important: Inaccurate or outdated data can lead to misinformed decisions, compromising case outcomes. Regular audits ensure data accuracy and reliability.
Implementation Tips: Schedule periodic audits of all databases and systems. Use automated validation tools where possible, and ensure that there's a clear protocol for data entry and updates to maintain data integrity.
Why It’s Important: The legal industry, like all industries, evolves over time. Processes that were once effective might become outdated or less efficient. Continuously reviewing and improving these processes ensures that the legal team remains agile and responsive.
Implementation Tips: Encourage a culture of feedback among team members. Use data analytics to track performance metrics, and identify areas where process adjustments can lead to greater efficiency. Consider implementing lean or agile methodologies to streamline workflows.
Why It’s Important: While technology offers powerful tools for enhancing efficiency, the nuanced nature of legal work often requires human judgement. Striking a balance ensures that technology amplifies human expertise rather than replacing or undermining it.
Implementation Tips: Ensure that all technology implementations are complemented by the coordination of adequate training so that legal professionals understand not just the how, but also the why behind tech tools. Foster open communication channels where team members can discuss and address any challenges or hesitations related to technology. Lastly, always prioritise critical thinking and ethical considerations in all case handling, reminding professionals that technology is a tool, not a decision-maker.
Incorporating these best practices into daily operations can dramatically enhance matter management, driving better results and optimal use of resources.
The primary goal of matter management is to streamline and organise legal processes and tasks, enhancing efficiency and ensuring timely and effective outcomes.
Matter management varies across industries based on their specific regulatory requirements, operational nuances, and the nature and complexity of legal matters they handle. For instance, healthcare might emphasise patient privacy concerns, while the finance industry may prioritise compliance matters.
Technology is pivotal in modern matter management, facilitating automation of repetitive tasks, ensuring accurate data storage and retrieval, and enabling real-time monitoring and reporting, thus enhancing overall efficiency.
Yes, challenges can include resistance to change, integrating with existing systems, ensuring data accuracy during migration, and adequately training staff to use new tools effectively.
Matter management helps identify potential legal risks early, ensures compliance with regulatory requirements, and provides a framework for consistent documentation and review, thus minimising potential legal vulnerabilities.
Absolutely. With customisation and thoughtful implementation, matter management systems can be tailored to align with and enhance existing workflows.
By providing centralised access to crucial data, up-to-date status on legal matters, and insights from past cases, matter management empowers organisations with the information they need to make informed, strategic decisions.
Future trends may include increased integration of artificial intelligence for predictive analytics, expanded use of cloud-based systems for greater accessibility, and enhanced focus on cybersecurity to protect sensitive legal data.
Matter management is an indispensable tool in the contemporary legal landscape, aiding in streamlining processes, enhancing efficiency, and facilitating informed decision-making. By integrating technology, adapting to industry-specific needs, and addressing common challenges, organisations can optimise their legal outcomes.
Plexus' matter management software gives you everything to your team needs to deliver faster and more scalable legal support. Capture better briefs, automate your triage, reach resolutions faster and improve visibility into matters.
One of our consultants will be in touch ASAP to answer your questions and determine your requirements.
Want to speak to someone instead? Call us on 1300 983 907
One of our consultants will reach out to you shortly.
Get weekly legal transformation best practices, benchmarks and trend analysis.
Thanks for subscribing