As much as they may not want to admit it, some general counsel find themselves in a position at times, when monitoring and controlling outside counsel activity begins to resemble the proverbial task of herding cats.
Fortunately, tracking and e-billing software today can help define, monitor and control outside counsel spending so that those cats can be gathered together and guided within the established parameters, with instant notification if one strays outside the lines.
BusyLamp’s Legal Fee Tracker allows you to establish budgets, staffing limits and other expectations, and then measure the billable activity against those pre-defined totals and milestones along the way. By having access to pre-billing time entries, it’s easy to stay on top of how legal spend is progressing on each separate legal matter, recognise potential issues developing and make corrections before they get worse. Moreover, the updates come in without either party having to chase after each other.
BusyLamp’s Legal e-Billing accelerates the process of receipt and review of billing through automation, efficiently mapping it against your customised guidelines, including fee arrangements, negotiated discounts, spending caps, timekeeper rates, and so forth. It can capture the detailed billing information submitted by each firm and seamlessly translate manual or LEDES formats into a single form, then route it to any designated approver. By automatically noting any violations, the software greatly reduces the chance of error while increasing the speed of review, substantially decreasing the support staff time needed to go over invoices.
Matter management and control
Non-compliance with guidelines isn’t necessarily a deliberate act by outside counsel. Many firms deal with so many clients and differing contracts that it is understandably difficult for them to operate completely compliant with each guideline every step of the way. It’s not unusual for law firms to have to comply with widely varying terms regarding staffing (allocations for different experience levels, diversity requirements, etc.), expenses (including travel and other allowable or unallowed items) and time limitations. Billing software leverages technology to signal when actions are out of compliance, providing a straightforward, non-confrontational method of resolving the matter.
In addition to helping to manage matters and keeping operations running smoothly, the enhanced transparency and detailed information gathering and analytics also helps to set the stage for open and honest communication and collaboration between general and outside counsel. The additional insight provided through analytics can also deliver deep insights into the nature of your legal expenditures, providing a foundation for evaluating options for using outside counsel going forward, as well as such considerations as internal cost allocation.
Compliance and cost-containment is a necessary concern for general counsel. But with a well-considered process in place, supported by versatile software capabilities such as those available from BusyLamp, maintaining a compliant working relationship can become less stressful, more productive, and in the best case just the expected course of business.