Legal matter management is a software-based means of keeping track of legal expenses, lawyer collaboration, and overall legal performance. Corporate legal departments are often the biggest consumers of legal matter management programs, though the systems can be useful for independent law firms, as well. They are primarily used for budgeting and cost management purposes. In legal matter management, a simple online platform streamlines billing, expenses, and both internal and external fees.
For many legal departments, managing the data required to run a successful business can be a challenge. Different projects are outsourced to different places, and many attorneys may be working on a number of cases at any given time. Matter management is a way of gathering all of a company’s legal data into one place so that it can be easily accessed and analyzed online.
“Legal matter” is a broad term that covers nearly all elements of law practice and proceedings that are not case-specific. Legal departments and law firms are, of course, focused on individual cases and disputes, but there is a lot that goes on that is unrelated to or independent of the specific details of those cases. This often includes billing and invoice submission, day-to-day workflow, and overall expenses. The main goal of a legal matter management system is to give operators a broad view of all of the activities, accounts, and cases that are open at any one time.
There are many similarities between legal matter management and legal case management, though the two are have important differences, and law firms often need both. Case management usually provides a broad overview of all of the materials related to a single case file. Matter management involves similar concepts but concerns all activity in all cases at once. It is not uncommon for law firms and corporate legal departments to be involved in many different cases, often in many different places, simultaneously.
One of the biggest advantages of a legal matter management system is the ability to quickly and easily grasp working statistics. Most programs store data over time and can compile reports and produce comparisons across categories. Managers can quickly compute how many hours have been billed within a given quarter, for instance, and can compare that number to the same quarter in years past. Expenses attributed to the firm, the project, and the outcome are also readily available, often with little more than the click of a mouse.
At its core, legal matter management is simply information technology management: it is the streamlining and warehousing of data. These kinds of programs can be an immeasurably valuable means of knowledge management and data accessibility. Most programs can be optimized for certain business needs, and almost all are custom-built for specific legal practices or departments.