What is an Outside Counsel Portal?
The Number One reason why corporate legal department fire law firms is due to “lack of responsiveness.” Law firms and corporate legal departments both desire stable relationships where work can be done at a high level, and responsiveness is a key factor in that.
One way to improve responsiveness is through a Legal Track Outside Counsel portal. This is a Website where the in-house and outside counsels can share files in real time and collaborate in a seamless fashion. The benefits are many, but time and cost savings top the list. For example, the less time outside counsel spends on mundane tasks, looking for information, writing long, unnecessary emails, the less billable hours they will submit to the corporate legal department, which results in cost savings.
How it works?
Once a case file is created in the Legal Track, the in-house counsel can attach the outside counsel’s name to the matter file, and send a user id and password to them. When the outside counsel logs in to the system, they will only see restricted areas of the case (in other words, the in-house counsel’s internal communication can be kept invisible). There is a separate folder for outside counsel to upload and download the case related files and they will not have the permission to see anything else.
The advantage of this system is that it can be customized easily. Each law department has a unique mix of legal matter files, often including intellectual property, contracts, litigation, to name a few. The Outside Counsel portal can be configured to track the specific types of information the department needs for the unique types of work that it has. Legal departments can easily assign multiple cases to an outside counsel and manage the workflows. For example, when a motion is filed by the outside counsel, the in-house counsel can be notified automatically, or a meeting can be scheduled to discuss next steps.
How are legal documents shared?
It is very cumbersome and time consuming for the attorneys from both sides to share documents as email attachments. Besides restrictions on file size and the need to scan for viruses, there is the problem of managing multiple copies of the same documents. The Legal Track Outside Counsel portal eliminates those problems by allowing easy uploading of files. The system can be set up so that reminders and notifications are triggered to inform the all the necessary parties about documents as they are added to the folder. It allows saving multiple versions of a document along with author comments.
Can we handle basic invoicing?
The Legal Track Outside Counsel portal allows easy invoicing, although the invoices are not as detailed as with the Legal Track e-billing module. Once outside counsel enters an invoice via the portal, an invoice is automatically created under each matter file. The in-house counsel can see all invoices attached under a specific matter. From that point onward the invoice can be routed for approval to other departments.
Ease of implementation
There is no need for a lengthy implementation process with the Legal Track Outside Counsel portal. This is an advantage, because legal departments don’t have the time or staff to devote to a lengthy training regimen, and most lawyers won’t sit through long instruction sessions. The Legal Track portal is readily available in the cloud, and the key component is ease of use. Law firms can start using the portal with basic keyboarding and Internet navigation skills.
In the quest to streamline the relationship and manage costs associated with using outside counsel, a Legal Track portal is a tool worth considering.