Legal Operations for Municipal Lawyers
Municipal lawyers need versatile and moldable legal operations software
Municipal lawyers work at all levels of government. In fact, the term municipality includes states, cities, counties, parishes, providences and Native American tribes. While all of these levels of government handle some of the same general issues, they also deal with unique matters. For example, an attorney who represents the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection deals with different issues than one who represents the City of Pasadena.
The fact that municipal legal departments have so much overlap, and yet so much diversity, can make it difficult to determine what type of legal operations system is right for your department. To simplify your search for matter management software, your best bet is to look for options that provide versatility and flexibility.
Finding the right fit for a municipal legal department
Your mind might first go to a custom-built solution, but this might not be the best fit for a municipal legal department. Such departments must be cost-conscious, and customized solutions are not cheap. They often end up costing more than expected. This leaves your department in a bad position, especially when you have to answer to your constituents. On top of that, not all custom-built solutions are designed to grow with your department. Once your needs change, you may find yourself looking for an entirely new system. It’s hardly cost-effective or efficient.
After nixing the idea of a custom-built solution, you might start thinking that a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software is a better fit for your municipal legal department. However, this type of legal operations system has a unique set of problems. Although it is cheaper than customized software, you often get what you pay for. COTS software often lacks features, functionality and flexibility—as well as training and support. It’s not a good deal if you end up with matter management that doesn’t meet your needs, or a system that your office can’t use.
For the best of both worlds, you should consider a software option such as Legal Files Software. With the versatility of a custom-built software at a price that’s more aligned with a COTS solution, you’ll find that Legal Files is flexible enough to handle anything that comes through your door.
The flexibility your municipal legal department needs to get the job done
Your municipal legal department can find all the tools it needs in one moldable solution with Legal Files. There’s no need for separate software to handle different functions, such as reporting, litigation and contracts. Our legal operations system is flexible enough to handle it all. Testimonials from two different municipal legal departments prove that this is the case.
After the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe selected Legal Files for its Child Welfare Office, it discovered what a difference the right legal operations system can make. A paralegal from the office, Tom Dahl, expressed that the new software revolutionized the way his team handled filing and calendaring. Before implementation, physical files were in many locations throughout the office. The new legal operations system puts all of this information at his fingertips, allowing him and other members of the team to be more efficient and productive.
Tom raved that the software simplifies the process of managing court reports for the office’s social workers. Instead of drafting new reports from scratch and struggling to keep them organized, the legal operations system manages it. He found that this is especially helpful in cases that go on for months or longer.
Reporting is another feature that has made a huge impact on the office. The division director needs a list of all cases every three months. Tom once had to physically find and count all of the files. Legal Files makes reporting much easier for the office because all of the files are in one digital location. It also allows Tom to break reports down by matter type and county in a straight-forward manner, something that the Tribal Council appreciates.
On the other side of the country, the New Hampshire Board of Tax & Land Appeals also saw benefits from Legal Files. Anne Stelmach, a clerk for the office, explained that she wanted a legal operations system that was easy to navigate and offered the ability to grow with the office – all at the right price. She and her coworkers found that Legal Files delivered all of this and more.
The staff loves that they can customize the system to match the way that they want to search for matters, and that they can count on finding everything they need. There’s no more searching for missing files or information. But that isn’t the only feature that the office loves. Anne explained that the electronic calendar ties the whole office together, document templates allow the team to be more efficient and automated, standardized to-dos cut down on the amount of project management time. She went on to say that the reporting feature helps her present professional and easy-to-read reports for the court system, legislators and the public.
In addition to the product itself, the office loves Legal Files’ customer service. Anne explained that they get answers and don’t get put on hold. She feels that every customer is a priority. Her team values that they have a real relationship with Legal Files and receive high-quality service.
Finding the right legal operations system for your municipal legal department
To find the best fit for your office, we recommend doing your homework. Ask your colleagues at other legal departments what they like and dislike about their current legal operations. Word-of-mouth can be a powerful tool in your search for the right system.
Attending industry conferences is another great way to research the available options for legal operations. The International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA) offers a Mid-Year Seminar and an Annual Conference where you can learn more from legal operations providers.
You can meet with Legal Files at the 2018: Mid-Year Seminar in Washington, D.C., on April 20-23, or at IMLA’s 83rd Annual Conference in Houston, Texas, on October 17-21. We can answer all of your questions and help guide you to the best options for your office.