Matter Management Matters

For GCs seeking greater control over their legal spend, matter management systems can be a proverbial godsend. Experts agree that giving GCs a better way to track, manage, analyze and report on legal activities and costs can reduce a company's legal costs by a whopping 10 percent to 20 percent.

The problem is that selecting the right matter management system can be a daunting experience. Many systems cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement and tens of thousands more to maintain. And that doesn't include the countless man-hours a department will consume internally just to learn how to use it. A capital expenditure of this magnitude and complexity isn't something a CFO is likely to give you a second chance to perfect. If you chose the wrong system, it will be a costly mistake you'll have to live with for years to come.

Once the team is in place, it's also important to inform each participant that the selection process is going to take time--in fact, lots of time. The law department at San Ramon, Calif.-based Chevron Corp., which employs more than 300 attorneys worldwide, took

15 months to select and implement its matter management system.

Key parameters for Eastman included budget reporting, invoice processing and the ability to reopen closed matters to examine case summaries, strategies, case law citations and costs.

"We had a system that was homespun and we needed something that was much more user friendly," Clark says. "We also wanted a cost-tracking tool so we could analyze what we spend the majority of our dollars on."

Because every application is unique, it's difficult, if not impossible, to get a handle on what a system will cost until the RFP process is complete. Neither Chevron nor Eastman had a budget in place when it began its search. Each relied on the RFP process to evaluate vendor capabilities, determine which system would best meet its needs and do so at a reasonable cost. The final cost of Eastman's CaseTrack system, for example, was in the low six-figure range for a user base of 65 licensees. The department also pays an annual user fee of 15 percent to 18 percent of the total software cost.

Once you have selected possible vendors, it's time to schedule hands-on, on-site demonstrations. Once again, it's up to the team to establish the parameters. For example, Chevron's "beauty contest" required each vendor to design a test system comprised of key fields that would let the team sort cases by division, category (litigation, IP, environmental and contracts) and budget. With vendors in separate rooms filled with a dozen or so PCs, team members put each system through pre-determined queries, and graded them accordingly.

"You can buy a Porsche or a Chevrolet," he says. "The Porsche may be nice, but if the Chevrolet meets 80 percent of your needs, why not go with that?"


staff Writer

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