Why won’t Corporate Legal use our investment in ECM?

Corporate Legal departments deal with a huge amount of incoming and outgoing information and documents every day. As a result, traditional methods of filing cabinets and shared disks are replaced by document management systems for legal matter management. While companies invest in an ECM system with the hopes that it would meet the requirements of every department, this might not be the case. 

It makes sense to have the entire organization’s content management infrastructure based on a single ECM platform. But then again, is your ECM system frustrating the legal department?

It has been tried many times. With increasing workloads and the pressure to govern and secure information, Legal departments understand the requirement of an efficient Enterprise Content Management system. Legal signs up when the organisation invest heavily in an ECM system, but the adoption is almost always a failure. They claim it is not easy enough to use. Too many clicks and it does not work the way they work.

Finding a solution that leverages existing ECM infrastructure and meets all the above expectations of the legal department with minimum additional investment is the challenge but achievable.

Expectation of Corporate Legal when adopting an ECM System

Truly, what is the underlying problem? Corporate Legal needs are simple…but unique. They need the structure of an enterprise content management system, ease of use of a light collaboration system, specialized legal functions of specialized legal software and expertise that understands their needs and processes. Corporate Legal are probably one of the hardest groups to satisfy in an enterprise. But there is hope, Corporate Legal can successfully adopt enterprise content management. We’ve got evidence!
  1. Structure
The structure of an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system is initially attractive to Legal.  It allows them a much superior way to organize, index and sort a multi-layer system of filing. The standardized approach would solve Corporate Legal’s biggest problem, each lawyer’s filing system and approach is personal and unique. But…who’s going to go through all the effort to add the content and index the content. Corporate Legal is too busy and adds too much burden to a lawyer’s day and there are just not enough assistants and paralegals to manage all that electronic filing.
  1. Collaboration
The biggest pain of personal filing systems is the difficulty to share and collaborate. Enter Email as your workflow system and collaboration repository and the file share as your formal records management repository. Duplication abound, this consumes a lot of time, lost work and re-work. The formal check-in and check-out of documents is just not conducive and overly burdensome for volumes of day to day documents, versions and correspondence that needs filing. This is really where ECM typically falls down for the corporate legal department.
  1. Specialized Functions
Corporate legal has very specific needs when it comes to managing day to day documents and email.  It starts with the concept of practice areas and matters.  Each practice area has metadata (index values) assigned to it.  Within a practice area, you create Matters.  Within a Matter, you create or add internal/externally authored documents, email, email attachments and Notes, each perfectly described to corporate legal’s specific descriptors and information types. And…it all has to happen with very little effort, within an application, or within Outlook or within Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat or Workshare, a specialized legal document compare tool. Add-in specialized process flows for task management to automated data-entry, reviews and approvals, opening and closing matters, reporting and secure sharing matters between legal professionals and very quickly you see this is not your generic, simply configured ECM system.
  1. Corporate Legal Expertise
While you can gather all of these requirements, experience working with the specialized needs of a Corporate Legal department is essential to properly transform those requirements into an easy to use end to end digital Legal Matter Management System. Many little nuances and professional understanding are what help move the needle from a contract repository to a system that is actively used and adopted by its users.  It can only do this by integrating corporate legal’s everyday activities into the solution.

The  Solution:

So how do you get to nirvana?  There are 3 options:

  1. Heavy customization of your ECM to meet the legal department’s needs – This approach is expensive, risky, time-consuming and usually never satisfies all the needs of the legal department leading to a very low success rate.
  1. Specialized 3rd party Legal Matter Management application – Typically legal would prefer such a solution as it would meet the department’s needs. However, this means a separate system and repository for the legal department. Thus creating integration efforts with the rest of the organization’s ECM system, records management mayhem, driving overall costs up.
  1. Specialized add-on Legal Matter Management solution for your ECM – As experts in implementing ECM systems for clients across industries, our pick for legal departments is a specialized solution called Altien Legal Matter Management. Specifically designed for corporate legal departments, Altien Legal Matter Manager is an advanced, matter centric document & email management solution, including analytics and process management.

The Benefits:

The promised benefits only arrive when users fully adopt the system. This is the biggest hurdle for Corporate Legal departments. When you achieve this, you should be targeting the usual business benefits such as time savings through more efficient tools, less rework, faster sharing and collaboration, and easier access to matters and knowledge. Risk is also reduced with better and automated records governance.

Altien Legal Matter Management bridges the gap between ECM and Corporate Legal’s Outlook and Word™ usage. Altien allows the Legal team members to live within these applications, while creating Cases and Matters, tracking details and content, creating related tasks and calendar entries, storing and filing related emails, and collaborating on it all.  And everything is searchable, secure, scalable and user-friendly.

Get in touch today to learn more about Altien Legal Matter Management. Contact Us!