Last month, we looked at several best practices followed by companies as they relate to legal spend management. This month, we will continue to examine issues we see among companies and how a legal spend management program can solve their problems.
There is no easy way to track rate increase requests.
Firm rate increase requests can be difficult to keep track of for many companies. Often, rate increases come in at various times during the year (unless a timeframe is outlined in the billing guidelines) and may end up scattered among inside counsel. This situation makes it difficult for general counsels to keep track of who is requesting increases, when they are requesting increases, and how much they are requesting. Stuart Maue solves this problem by implementing a rate increase tool. Firms use the rate increase tool to request an increase along with an explanation for the increase. The rate approval can be funneled to a certain individual or multiple individuals within the company. Once the rate has been approved or rejected, a notification is sent to the law firm. With the use of a rate increase tool, the information surrounding the rate increase request is trackable and available for reporting purposes. Companies now have centralized knowledge about their rates which will result in better information for use in rate negotiations.
The workflow and payment processes are not streamlined.
General counsels often struggle with invoices getting stuck in the review process and taking too long to leave the payment department. Stuart Maue works with clients to review their workflow and payment process in order to streamline their review and payment system. Subject to the client need, we give companies access to a portal where they can review, modify, and approve invoices that were reviewed by a Stuart Maue attorney. After an invoice is approved, a payment file is automatically generated and sent to the accounts payable department. By streamlining the review and payment of invoices, companies ultimately reduce their administration costs.
There is no analytical basis for some decisions.
If a general counsel cannot access the information found in legal invoices, it becomes difficult to make informed decisions. Stuart Maue has assisted many general counsels by helping them gain insights found from the data in their invoices. By requiring law firms to include the UTBMS codes (Uniform Task Based Management System) in their billing, law firms provide a means to identify the work breakdown and cost information for their services. These codes can supply the information necessary for the general counsel’s desire for budget tracking information as well as the need for in-depth analysis of task and expense information. For example, we use UTBMS information to provide our clients with reports and analytics regarding how much was spent on items such as experts/consultants, or in depositions for the year. Having access to this type of intelligence provides general counsels with a wealth of information.
Also, with the use of a powerful database and reporting tools, we can supply additional analytics that allow general counsels to analyze spend by business unit, the number of partner hours spent on a certain matter, as well as other metrics. Stuart Maue’s reports and analytics allow general counsels to make more informed, proactive decisions, optimize allocation of resources, and actively manage risk.
A good legal spend management program can help general counsels with issues such as: identifying potential or additional savings in legal bills, making certain firms adhere to budgets, managing rate increases, finding workflow efficiencies, and using analytics to make informed decisions. Hopefully the best practices gleaned from our experience with other companies can aid in establishing new and more efficient procedures and processes in the area of legal spend management for your organization.