It seems there’s now an app or platform to manage every aspect of our lives, from grocery shopping to doing taxes to building relationships. But consumers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from management and automation. This same technology can be (and has been) applied to every single industry to streamline processes, increase accessibility, augment productivity and ultimately contain costs and drive revenue.
In the legal world, we call this case management software.
Of course, legal departments exist in every size and practice area. So while there’s no industry-wide standard for case management practices, legal software is proving to be the differentiator between departments that simply exist and those that thrive.
Today, more than seven in 10 lawyers across the U.S. and Europe say that both “coping with increased volume and complexity of information” and an “emphasis on improved productivity and efficiency” are top trends with impact. Yet, only 31% feel very prepared to address it. In an age of big data (that only continues to grow), automated legal software can help ebb the flow of operational stressors.
In this guide to corporate legal case management software, we’ll provide the ultimate know-how for better understanding this crucial technology, how to choose a platform that best meets your needs and what benefits your office stands to gain.
Let’s Be Clear. What Exactly is Case Management Software?
There’s no denying that the legal industry is known for its extensive vocabulary and jargon. So it’s important to understand what legal case management software is and how it works before you can explore what it can do for you.
Legal case management software is a centralized platform for recording, monitoring and analyzing your data.
This includes everything from contact information and case notes to appointments, documents and email. When everything is kept in one central location, it’s not only easier to visualize and comprehend, but it provides easier access to the information you need, when you need it.
Case management (also called matter management) software can satisfy a number of needs, including:
Organization and document management
- Housing details (contact information, history, etc.)
- Scheduling appointments
- Tracking communications and messages
- Keeping records for audit and compliance
- Managing tasks and deadlines
- Gathering and attaching relevant images
- Accessing, editing or assembling new documents
- Budgeting by matter
- Validating against billing guidelines
- Customizing invoice approval workflow
- Tracking and approving expenses
- Determining budget status
- Creating sub-budgets
- Tracking and reporting time and internal costs
Generating meaningful reports
- Querying data
- Providing flexibility to export to other applications like Excel
- Identifying and addressing priority matters and litigation exposures
- Integrating with other report writers
How Can Legal Case Management Software Help You?
There’s no end to the amount of paper, emails and reports a legal office can generate. But this management style also opens the door to error, causing files and details to be mislabeled, misremembered or even lost. This is where corporate case management software shines. With case management software, you can:
Reduce Human Error
No matter how good someone is at their job, mistakes are bound to happen. Data entry from paper forms or handwritten notes perpetuate these risks, generating incorrect digital data from the start.
Case management systems, however, take most human error out of the equation, using automation to complete workflows without interference. Documents can be generated using only the most pertinent case information and immediately sent for electronic signature, reducing data transfer and information loss.
Organize and Track Data
Pen and paper may seem like “the old reliable” method. But is it really advantageous (or physically feasible considering the enormity of filing systems) in a digital age where data can be processed in a matter of seconds? Whether you have dozens, hundreds or thousands of files and documents, manually managing this data is unrealistic.
Corporate case management software keeps all of the data you collect (from contact information and history to case notes and communications) in one place, making it easier to visualize and take action on later. And when data is at your fingertips, you can increase response times and productivity throughout the office, leading to increased organizational satisfaction and loyalty.
Today’s professionals value freedom of mobility, relying on their smartphones, tablets, apps and even AI tools to keep them connected and productive no matter where they are. The beauty of software is that it is built to complement these channels and devices, allowing users to sign in and get the data they need from anywhere.
Whether your workforce is centralized or globally dispersed, case management software allows your team to access the information they need in order to keep cases on track — from the office, the coffee shop or home.
Legal professionals have worked for years with the ability to sift through the endless paperwork required to manage a case or matter. But the advantage for professionals today is that legal software allows practices to take their data a step further, analyzing trends and visualizing how their processes are performing. (After all, what’s the point in having data if you can’t take action on it?)
Case management reports provide distinct benefits to the business, generating otherwise-hidden analyses on relationships between files, performance metrics and trends. In addition, operational reports allow you to analyze how well your operations and workflows are performing, which of your processes are paying off and which should be reevaluated.
Keep Data Secure
A third-party breach of shared documents would be detrimental to any office. But the majority of lawyers also use email to share files—one of the most vulnerable platforms for security breaches.
Case management platforms are equipped with the ability to help keep this data secure through the appropriate permissions and file-sharing. No lock and key; no safes; no duplicate copies needed. Plus, case management software enables you to perform regular backups to ensure data is always safe from power outages and crashes.
Most of all, a legal case management platform is just that—a single place for users to come and get the details they need, collaborate with other team members (without duplicating files or efforts) and keep office knowledge organized and accessible.
While too many Word documents can create versioning issues and document review processes give new meaning to “too many cooks in the kitchen,” legal case managment software keeps everyone current. Changes and new uploads are saved in real-time so documents are always current and accurate.
Legal case management software increases productivity by eliminating data fragmentation and streamlining multiple functions, which frees up valuable attorney time to reallocate to other important business operations and relationship building. By automating legal operations with workflows and providing digital reminders of pending tasks, case managers can ensure deadlines are met and casework is appropriately completed without wasting time manually preparing it.
How to Choose the Right Case Management Software
Every department or office is different. But big or small, the operational challenges are often the same. When evaluating a case management software tool, consider the following categories.
- Do the software’s features meet your needs?
- Are they broad enough to help you scale in the future?
- What legal case management capabilities are most important to you?
- Does the platform support automation of the types of workflows you need most?
- What do you dislike about your current software?
Compatibility and integration
- How easy will it be to migrate your data to the new system?
- Does the tool integrate with your other preferred vendors like billing systems, email or document management?
- How does the industry talk about the tool you’re evaluating?
- Do others recommend it?
- Have you read the vendor’s customer testimonials?
- Is the payment structure a fixed rate or subscription-based (monthly)?
- Does the total cost fit within your budget?
- Are software upgrades offered for free?
- Are you confident you’ll get the best value from the software?
Tips and Tricks for Implementing Your New Legal Software
Once you’ve chosen a new case management application, proper implementation is crucial for internal adoption and eventual ROI. Without it, milestones may get missed, timelines will be extended and motivation to use the software to its fullest extent will wane.
In fact, 74% of enterprise resource management (ERP) projects (a category of business management software) take longer than expected, while 64% go over budget. To ensure your implementation’s success, be sure to:
- Start by developing a transition strategy from the old system to the new one.
- Involve leaders from every department/function in the office, as well as key users to gain insight and input.
- Chart milestones and track progress to make sure goals are being met.
- Gather feedback from users once implemented and make changes/improvements to accommodate internal needs.
Next-Generation Tools for Leading Corporate Legal Departments
As a legal pro, your top priority should be legal work—not juggling back-office functions. Case management software removes the stress of keeping case and matter files, contracts, documents and other important legal data organized with a centralized system that saves you time and (subsequently) money.
As people become more mobile and data generation increases, it’s critical that forward-thinking legal professionals adopt legal case management software that helps them work smarter, not harder.
What could your department stand to gain?
Legal Files is more than a software vendor. We offer case and matter management tools that solve your deepest pain points, giving you back time, money and peace of mind. With extensive customization capabilities, robust features and expert support staff, Legal Files is the preferred choice of top corporations, law firms, government entities, universities and more organizations around the globe. Contact us today to start the conversation!