Legal operations platforms have revolutionized the way in-house legal departments manage their organization’s legal operations. Through a legal operations platform, general counsel and Chief Legal Officers can increase the efficiency of their legal department’s operations by controlling legal spend, managing vendors, and organizing documents and reports. Two leading legal operations platforms on the market are Legal Tracker, published by Thomson Reuters, and SimpleLegal/CounselGo, published by Onit.
In-house legal departments can use legal operations platforms to automate managing legal operations and to gain better visibility into them. Many of these platforms have integrated—you know what we’re going to say here, so say it along with us—AI and machine learning to further automate legal operations management and provide general counsel and CLOs with deeper insights into the various matters handled by their legal department.
Legal Operations Software
Enterprise legal management software can help organizations ranging from the leanest startups to non-profit organizations to long-ago-established Fortune 500 corporations. Aside from automating the various responsibilities that legal departments have, such as reviewing legal spend, managing vendors, and overseeing legal matters, legal operations software can also help legal departments better connect with other departments in their organization, such as those responsible for IT, finance, and human resources, as well as the C-suite.
Two of the leading legal operations software today are Legal Tracker/Legal Tracker Advanced by Thomson Reuters and SimpleLegal by Onit. These and other enterprise legal management platforms increasingly use AI to compare an organization’s legal operations against industry trends and benchmarks to provide tailored insights to general counsel and CLOs. These insights can help legal departments make better strategic decisions about managing their organization’s legal operations and budgets.
Legal Tracker by Thomson Reuters
Legal Tracker, Thomson Reuters’ enterprise legal management software, is one of the more widely used platforms by in-house legal departments. Thomson Reuters offers two versions of its Legal Tracker solution: the primary Legal Tracker platform and Legal Tracker Advanced, which offers more in-depth data and analysis of legal spend.
Some of the key functions of Legal Tracker include:
- Matter management: The matter management function allows legal departments to connect with their law firms and legal vendors to centralize all information about the organization’s legal matters
- Legal analytics: The legal analytics feature helps legal departments make data-driven decisions about operations, including spend/budget and department and vendor performance. With the feature, legal departments can see data showing how they, outside firms, and vendors provide value to their organization
- E-billing: Through the e-billing function, legal departments can manage invoicing from outside firms and legal vendors, including offering automated auditing and approval features plus integration with the organization's finance or accounts payable department
The Legal Tracker platform also offers add-on services for legal departments, including implementation services designed to quickly deploy the platform into a client’s systems, cloud integration systems that connect Legal Tracker with the client’s accounts payable department, data conversion/migration services, consulting services to help improve legal department operations, and business intelligence services.
Thomson Reuters provides Legal Tracker support for users to help them get everything they can out of the platform’s functionality. Support services include an online help site available 24/7 and live support available 24/5. Legal Tracker training programs also help users learn their way around the platform, with training options including self-guided training, online training courses, in-person boot camps, and customized training programs based on a user’s specific needs.
For organizations that need more in-depth data and analysis of their legal department’s operations, the Legal Tracker Advanced platform provides additional features and benefits, such as:
- Rate management insights that enable legal departments to assess whether vendors are charging above or below market rates, calculate the impact of rate increases, predict future legal spend, and identify savings opportunities
- Rate review features that include automated acceptance or rejection of rate changes, analysis of historic rate increases, and an in-product space for legal departments to negotiate rates with outside firms and legal vendors
- RFP automation that standardizes and streamlines the firm/vendor bidding process and facilitates a more impartial selection
SimpleLegal by Onit
SimpleLegal is another popular enterprise legal management platform used by organizations. It helps legal departments connect with other departments to provide strategic value to the organization.
SimpleLegal provides dashboard and reporting tools that allow legal departments to spot trends in spend or operations. It also leverages—you guessed it!—AI to avoid blind spots or uncertainty regarding trends. Some of the key features of the SimpleLegal platform include:
- e-Billing: This feature gives legal departments an in-depth view of their organization’s legal spend and helps them quantify the value of the work being done by legal teams and proactively spot issues where legal spend is not providing maximum value. Legal departments can also use the platform to better predict upcoming legal spend
- Matter management: With this feature, legal departments can track all aspects of internal and external matters. Dashboards allow general counsel and CLOs to see which employees or outside counsel/vendors are involved in a matter and in what capacity, the status of a matter, and what tasks remain. Legal departments can use this information to inform staffing, budgets, and hiring of outside firms or vendors
- Vendor management: SimpleLegal also provides legal departments with a clear view of the work outside firms and vendors are doing for their organization. They can objectively evaluate vendors’ performance and then identify those vendors that are consistently delivering quality services on time and at or below budget
- Reporting and analytics: SimpleLegal lets users configure the platform to collect the data that is most critical to their decision-making. The platform provides standard dashboards, but allows users to customize dashboards so they have easy access to the information they believe is most valuable to them. The platform also offers analytics features that can track performance and value for spend.
The SimpleLegal API lets users integrate the platform with their other software solutions and databases to eliminate the need for data migration and entry, ensuring that each department using SimpleLegal within an organization has fresh, synced data.
Through SimpleLegal’s CounselGo feature, organizations’ outside law firms can bill them through the platform. Firms can submit, revise, and track the approval/payment status of their invoices, reducing the need for in-house counsel to respond to their outside firms’ questions about payment.
With legal operations platforms, general counsel and CLOs can get a clear view of their organization’s legal matters and the resources they require today and tomorrow. Many of these platforms put AI and machine learning to work for users, analyzing data, identifying potential issues, creating performance metrics, and forecasting future trends. With this information, legal departments can more easily find efficiencies in legal spend, human resources, and outside firm/vendor services.
With all that they have on their plates, it can be difficult—ok, fine, impossible—for general counsel and CLOs to know, at any given moment, all the data points that tell them how efficiently and effectively their legal departments are running. Through the data stored in them and their dashboard capabilities, legal operations platforms provide a one-stop shop for general counsel and CLOs looking to manage how their legal departments are performing and how close they are to operating at peak efficiency.