Legal matter management software can increase efficiency and reduce costs

Legal departments have a lot to manage each day, including billing, calendars, contacts, documents, and email. It can be overwhelming. However, properly selected and implemented legal matter management software can integrate all of these pieces into one tool. This increases organizational efficiency, which also saves time and money for legal departments.

Let’s take a look at the system features that will maximize your return on investment.

There are easy ways to select the right legal matter management software

If you perform a simple web search, you’ll see that there are dozens of legal matter management systems available. Instead of getting lost in a sea of systems, consider this: not every legal matter management software package will meet your needs. For example, some packages have been designed for a specific law firm or practice area. If you deal with bankruptcy cases, you don’t even have to consider a system that’s designed for immigration or personal injury.

After you eliminate the systems that clearly don’t meet your needs, you’ll still be left with a decent number of software packages. Most software providers will be reluctant to tell you this, but all systems perform about 80% of the exact same functions. Many of the differences just come down to the appearance of the user interface and how many times you have to click to perform a task. While these are important considerations, don’t forget to consider other differences. Some of the not-so-obvious differences can turn out to be enormous time and money savers.

Don’t forget to consider the specific features of each legal matter management software package

Before you commit to one software system, there are a few features that you will want to consider in a little more depth.

System Scalability and Reliability – A system is only as good as it is reliable. While it can be hard to find out how reliable a system is from a simple software demonstration, there are some questions you can ask to gain more information. Ask for the system’s CPU, RAM, and hard disk requirements as well as what database server the provider recommends. It’s also a good idea to ask for references from the vendor’s largest install and from legal departments that are similar in size to your own. If the vendor is reluctant to provide this information, you should be reluctant to give them your business.

Email and Calendar Integration – A modern legal department cannot function without access to email and a calendar. Most departments rely on Microsoft Outlook/Exchange, so it’s important to ask if the software system offers true, two-way integration between the systems for calendaring, task reminders, contacts, and email. You’ll also want to know what happens to an email when it is “saved” to the system.

Document Management – Although most legal departments have already invested in a document management system (DMS), not everyone has made the switch. If you’ve yet to go digital, many software packages offer a document management component. Just be sure to ask your vendor if their software includes a complete document management feature or if it merely integrates with an existing DMS. If you already have a DMS, don’t forget to ask how the integration and utilization of this function works.

Advanced Features – If you’re looking for advanced or specific features, you’ll want to talk to your vendor about customization. Find out if the application can be customized to meet the needs of your department and find out how easy it is to customize the software.

If you keep these considerations in mind when selecting a new software system, you’ll be sure to find the perfect system for your needs.