Practice Management

From Intake to Outcome: An in-house lawyer's guide to matter management solutions

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Nicole Black

Nicole Black.

In today's fast-paced world, in-house teams require robust tools to manage the complexities of their daily workflows. Matter management software fills this gap and provides a comprehensive solution that streamlines processes from case intake to resolution while also facilitating collaboration with members of internal legal teams and outside counsel.

Matter management software promises to improve legal operations by increasing efficiency and risk management. Of course, choosing the right software for your team’s needs is essential because the right features and workflows can make all the difference and ensure a full realization of the many benefits that this type of software offers.

There is an abundance of articles about this category of software written by legal technology providers specializing in this technology. There are also many guides on in-house matter management tools that are available behind paywalls as part of organizational memberships. However, there are very few neutral resources that round up this software category that are easily and freely accessible via an internet search. With this article, I plan to remedy that gap in the online marketplace.

Below, I’ll provide an overview of this category of software by featuring tools designed for small- to medium-sized legal departments. You’ll learn about factors to consider when selecting an appropriate platform, along with a rundown of top contenders in the space.

Choosing in-house matter management software

This software includes many features, and some programs are more robust than others. Matter management tools can include features such as case intake, matter management, vendor management, e-billing, workflow automation, collaboration tools, contract management, spend management, reporting and even artificial intelligence chatbots or other AI-enabled tools. There are also many different integrations available that ensure full connection between this software and other tools used by your in-house team.

Before researching your options, it’s essential that you fully understand your team’s unique needs and workflows. Only then will you be able to make informed decisions about the feature set, cost structure and software integrations needed to affordably streamline the processes already in place. If the software doesn’t integrate with the tools your company uses or unnecessarily interferes with established workflows, then it may not be the right fit.

Additionally, it’s important to understand that for the tools listed below that are cloud-based, you’ll be entrusting your law firm’s confidential client data to a third party. This means that you have an ethical obligation to thoroughly vet the tech provider that will be hosting and storing your firm’s data. This duty includes obtaining information as to how the data will be handled by that company; where the servers on which the data will be stored are located; who will have access to the data; and how often and when it will be backed up, among other things.

Furthermore, if the software includes AI features, issues you’ll want to explore include accuracy rates, how the company protects your data, and whether your team’s data inputs are used to train AI models to improve responses.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the software programs available in this category. Below you’ll find a roundup of some of the more popular matter management software tools for legal departments. Make sure to take advantage of demos offered, and test-drive the software, if that option is available.

Unless otherwise mentioned, pricing is not available on the website and is likely determined based on the functionality needed and the size of your legal team.

Matter management options for legal departments

First up, LawVu, a New Zealand company founded in 2015. It offers a very robust feature set that includes intake, matter management, contract management, spend management and reporting. There are many integrations available, including Google Workspace (formerly Google Suite), DocuSign, Outlook, Word, Slack, Salesforce and Okta. LawVu AI is available, and it assists with contract analysis and review. Demos are available.

Another option is SimpleLegal, which was founded in the United States in 2013 and was recently acquired by Onit. Available features include e-billing, matter management, vendor management and reporting and analytics. SimpleLegal is broken down into two different platforms: SimpleMatters and SimpleSpend. Your legal team’s needs will determine whether you have to utilize one or both programs. Integrations are available but not listed on the website. You can request a demo on the website.

Next up, Brightflag, a product that was founded in Ireland in 2014. Its functionality includes outside counsel billing, vendor management, document management, budgeting and accruals, matter management and reporting tools. It integrates with many different types of software, such as Azure, Oracle, Google Workspace, Okta and Workday. Demos can be booked on the website.

Checkbox is a program founded in Australia in 2016. Its features include intake tools, matter management, workflow automation, contract life cycle management and an AI chatbot assistant. Integrations include DocuSign, Slack, Google Drive, Salesforce, LawVu and SharePoint. You can sign up for a demo on the website.

Finally, options for larger legal departments include LexisNexis’ CounselLink, Thomson Reuters’ Legal Tracker and Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions.

These platforms often integrate with other products offered by each company, including contract review and contract life cycle management tools. These matter management platforms are full-featured and sometimes complex. And while they are very useful for large legal teams, they are beyond the scope of this article, so they won’t be covered in depth.

Working smarter with legal tech

The adoption of matter management software by in-house legal teams isn’t just about automating tasks and routine processes. Instead, this software streamlines workflows for greater efficiency, enabling legal teams to focus on strategic, high-level tasks. With the current rate of rapid tech advancements, including generative AI, these tools will become all the more essential by enabling more accurate predictive analysis, risk assessment and decision-making.

In other words, the future of in-house legal work is not just about working harder but working smarter with the help of tech.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York-based attorney, author and journalist, and she is senior director of subject matter expertise and external education at MyCase, a company that offers legal practice management software for small firms. She is the nationally recognized author of Cloud Computing for Lawyers and is co-author of Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, both published by the American Bar Association. She writes regular columns for and Above the Law, has authored hundreds of articles for other publications, and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law and emerging technologies. Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) @nikiblack, or she can be reached at [email protected].

This column reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of the ABA Journal—or the American Bar Association.

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