What is Matter Management: Why Law Firms Need It

Matter management tools enable more efficient case management, time tracking, appointment setting, document management, communication, billing, accounting, and reporting.

Transitioning from manual matter management to a legal practice management system is pivotal for law firms seeking to address inefficiencies and implement more productive processes. 

What Is Matter Management?

Matter management is a legal case organization method focused on providing a single source of truth tied to an easily accessible database for all matter-related information. It’s a comprehensive approach that offers attorneys a centralized system for staying on top of tasks, meetings, deadlines, and documentation, rather than forcing them to work within disparate, unconnected systems and processes.

Why Is Matter Management Important?

Matter management tools enable more efficient case management, time tracking, appointment setting, document management, communication, billing, accounting, and reporting. With enhanced visibility and control over how each matter is progressing, law firms can streamline workflows, improve attorney productivity and collaboration, better ensure compliance, have more meaningful client interactions, and get actionable insights to support effective budget and resource allocation. 

What Are the Benefits of Using Matter Management Software?

There are many benefits of using matter management software, but some of the most useful advantages include:

Organization that Makes Sense

Having a single source of truth ensures attorneys get easy access to information that is consistent, up-to-date, and easily accessible. This level of organization is crucial when managing multiple cases simultaneously, as it helps prevent oversight and ensures that every detail is accounted for. Additionally, this centralization of information reduces clutter and saves time that would otherwise be spent searching for documents or information across different platforms. This high level of organization leads to smoother operations, improved productivity, and better client service.

Improved Collaboration Across Teams

Firms should strive to foster a collaborative environment that makes it easy for everyone to communicate and stay informed. By providing shared access to a matter-focused platform, all team members can access and update case-related information in real time. This transparency ensures everyone is on the same page, reducing misunderstandings and improving coordination. For instance, a lawyer working on a case can instantly update the case status, which can be viewed by the paralegal, the associate, and the partner, eliminating the need for multiple update meetings or emails.

Streamlined Onboarding

Matter management software simplifies the client onboarding process. Using intelligent forms, it allows law firms to capture all relevant client information, conflict checks, and initial case details in one centralized location. This not only reduces the administrative burden but also ensures a smoother, faster, and more efficient onboarding process.

Enhanced Task Tracking

Practice management software equipped with matter management tools let firms easily assign, track, and manage tasks related to each legal matter. Team members can update the status of tasks in real-time, providing visibility into the progress of each matter. They can also assign tasks to each other, set deadlines, and track progress directly within the platform. Shared calendars allow everyone to view important dates, deadlines, and events related to each case, ensuring that no critical dates are missed. This level of oversight ensures tasks are completed on time and helps identify any potential bottlenecks in the workflow. 

Automated Invoicing

Billing and invoicing to the correct client and/or matter are critical yet time-consuming aspects of running a law firm. Matter management software automates these processes while adhering to billing guidelines, reducing manual errors and freeing up valuable time. Using the tracked hours associated with each matter, the software can generate invoices, and even integrate with payment systems to facilitate faster, more efficient collection.

Better Document Management

Matter management software offers robust document management capabilities. Firms can store, organize, and retrieve documents related to each legal matter with ease. Advanced search features ensure that the right documents can be found quickly, saving time and increasing productivity.

Effective Resource Allocation

Matter management tools provide valuable insights into how resources are being used. With automated time-tracking that gets associated with individual matters, law firm owners can better understand where resources are being used and where they may be needed more. This facilitates more effective allocation, ensuring each case is adequately resourced.

From easing the client onboarding process and enhancing task tracking to automating invoicing and improving document management, matter management systems can revolutionize how firms operate.

Must-Have Legal Matter Management Software Features

When vetting software for matter management capabilities, there are a few things to make sure your platform has, so you can fully take advantage of the benefits. Outside of a centralized database for better organization — which is arguably the most important part of matter management software for law firms — some essential features include:

  • Integrated Time Tracking and Billing: Seamless time tracking capabilities to accurately record billable hours and integrated billing functionalities to streamline invoicing and financial management.
  • Document Storage and Retrieval Systems: Secure, scalable document storage for housing legal documents, contracts, and correspondence related to each matter. Plus, advanced retrieval systems for easy access and version control.
  • Collaboration Tools: Features to facilitate communication and collaboration among legal teams, like document collaboration, shared calendars, flexible task management, and easy visibility into real-time updates.
  • Automated Compliance Tracking: Automated reminders and notifications for important deadlines and compliance tasks.

Choosing a Matter Management Tool for Your Firm

When choosing a new software at your firm, there are a few things to consider:

Needs Assessment

The first step towards implementing matter management in a law firm is conducting a thorough needs assessment. This involves understanding the unique requirements, challenges, and goals of your law firm. It’s essential to identify the specific pain points your firm is experiencing, such as inefficiencies in task tracking, difficulties in document management, or challenges in collaboration. Understanding these needs will help in choosing a practice management solution with the right matter management capabilities.

Vetting Your Choices

Once the firm’s needs have been identified, the next step is to evaluate various tools. The best matter management tools are ones that are part of a comprehensive legal practice management software. When evaluating legal practice management systems, consider features, scalability, user-friendliness, and cost. 

The chosen software should offer features that address the firm’s specific needs identified in the needs assessment. Scalability is crucial to ensure that the software can accommodate the firm’s growth over time. User-friendliness is important to ensure a smooth transition and encourage adoption among team members. Finally, cost is a significant factor, and the benefits and efficiencies gained from the software should justify the investment.

Training and Onboarding

After selecting the right software, the next step is training and onboarding. This involves educating all team members about the features and functionalities of the new system. Comprehensive training ensures that everyone understands how to use the software effectively, which is crucial for successful implementation. The onboarding process should also include support for any technical issues that arise, ensuring a smooth transition to the new system.

Continuous Monitoring and Feedback

The final step in the implementation process is continuous monitoring and feedback. Regularly assessing the system’s efficiency is crucial to ensure that it’s meeting the firm’s needs and contributing to improved productivity and efficiency. This might involve tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), such as time saved, increase in billable hours, or reduction in errors. 

Feedback from team members is also invaluable for understanding any difficulties they’re experiencing or suggestions they have for improvement. This information can be used to make necessary adjustments and ensure the software continues to provide value over time.

Addressing Your Firm’s Challenges to Implementation

When implementing any new technology, there are a few common challenges you might face.

Overcoming Resistance to Change

Resistance to change is a common obstacle when introducing new systems. To overcome this, it’s important to communicate the benefits of the matter management software clearly and consistently. Demonstrations, workshops, or trial periods can help team members understand how the new system can make their work easier and more efficient. Additionally, involving team members in the implementation process can foster a sense of ownership and encourage acceptance of the new system.

Ensuring Data Security and Client Confidentiality

To ensure data security and client confidentiality, firms should scrutinize the security measures provided by the software. This includes data encryption, user access controls, and data backup and recovery features. Regular audits and compliance checks can also help maintain high-security standards. Furthermore, understanding the provider’s policies regarding data ownership and access can ensure they align with the firm’s legal and ethical obligations.

Easing the Learning Curve

The learning curve associated with new technology can be eased with comprehensive training and ongoing support. Providing resources such as user guides, tutorials, and access to customer support can help team members become proficient with the new system. Additionally, encouraging a culture of patience and continuous learning can help team members adapt more quickly to the new system.

Embracing Matter Management for Success

With matter management, law firms can enjoy a more organized, collaborative, and streamlined approach to handling legal matters. From easing the client onboarding process and enhancing task tracking to automating invoicing and improving document management, these systems can revolutionize how firms operate.

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