Articles on Technology

Data on penetration of specialized software into US legal departments

Thomson Reuters recently surveyed more than 500 legal departments and spoke directly to over 100 legal department leaders and attorneys.  Not surprisingly, given the T-R suite of legal software offerings, one area they covered was” vendor-provided” software (at 3).  Matter and spend management tools, they found, had been adopted by 40 percent of the respondents.  A similar number reported using contract management solutions from a vendor.


The General Counsel Metrics benchmark survey has almost two years of data on matter management software and one year on contract management.  Matter management this year is about one-third more common than contract management, with about 90 law departments confirming use of the first and about 70 the second genre of software.


As to other law department technology Thomson Reuters reported legal hold software in 20 percent of their respondents; software for “Complex transactions” in 21 percent; “Compliance” in 22 percent; and “Entity management” in 28 percent.  They either did not ask or did not report on intellectual property tracking software.

An ad of a vendor makes a claim that is hard to credit

In the July issue of Claims Mgt, at 30, there is an advertisement by Bottomline Technologies. In bold print at the top the ad proclaims “Bottomline is chosen three times more than any other legal spend management vendor.” I know executives at the company and to the extent of my knowledge of them and their products I respect them. That said, however, this claim strikes me as curious, impossible to back up, or cleverly ambiguous.  Surely they don’t claim to have triple the number of users as any other vendor in that crowded space!  Perhaps they define “legal spend management” in a narrow way that favors their claim?

Custom software development compared to licensed software

This blog has addressed custom software written for a legal department, as well as some of the relative advantages and disadvantages of these two approaches (See my post of June 3, 2009: customized software coded for legal departments with 12 references.).  Let’s review the arguments in favor of custom software.


Bespoke software should satisfy the requirements of the law department better than a packaged solution, because it is more precisely tailored. Likewise, at least in theory, it can be adapted more quickly and more specifically to changing needs.  Further, a special solution might be able to combine functions that licensed solutions do not.  It might even cost less depending on the terms of internal cost allocations.  Possibly the software itself can become a source of revenue. A vendor might go out of business or cease support of its software.


On the other hand, to spec out requirements and go through the months of coding and testing takes longer than to select and implement a pre-existing package.  A custom package may have support from only one or two programmers at the company who know it and if they are no longer available, neither is their experience. Home-grown software usually lacks the documentation and training materials that come with a package sold to the public. The custom programming language may go out of fashion, and not be able to keep up with newer languages or tools.  A program written just for one law department probably has no application programmer interfaces (API) that enable third parties to offer complementary capabilities.  Then too, vendors keep adding features and capabilities to respond to a competitive market and user requests; the one-off program may be relatively stagnant and requires ongoing internal support from IT.


Let me know what advantages or disadvantages I have missed  (See my post of June 16, 2009: IT usually involved when software needs to be written; Jan. 4, 2010 #1: legal department bans customizations; Feb. 19, 2010: Cisco’s customized software taken over by Orrick; July 5, 2010: bizarre quote about law departments writing lots of code; Dec. 7, 2010: small department creates own contract management software; Dec. 13, 2010: Bugzilla modified by a department; June 13, 2011: GC Metrics’ data on custom matter management systems; Feb. 8, 2011: two disadvantages of in-house written software; Feb. 22, 2011: home-grown compared to customized as terms; and May 22, 2012: contract management and matter management packages customized.).

Software to help in-house lawyers who deal with import/export regulations

KIE Square, a consulting firm that specializes in advanced business analytics, has developed a business intelligence application. According to KMWorld, July/Aug. 2012 at 15, the software helps identify shipments likely to violate import regulations on the basis of the importer’s declarations and other paperwork (See my post of Jan. 24, 2011: Jim Bartlett of Northrop Grumman and his compilation.).


The article mentions that the text analytics capabilities of the software can spot the likelihood of wrongdoing far better than high-level structured data. This appears to be a good example of software that could supplement the expertise of an in-house lawyer (See my post of April 4, 2011: guidelines, checklists and annotations with 13 references and 1 metapost.).


Customer relationship management as a feeder system, and more, for a law department

Kraig Washburn, the General Counsel of Flexera, spoke at the recent InsideCounsel SuperConference about his department’s use of Salesforce software.  His department has about four lawyers and four other staff.  In 2011, they handled about 4,000 requests for assistance, among which were about 700 negotiated software agreements.


Currently, with Salesforce, reps in the field fill in the key terms for a prospective contract and the software routes that information to the law department.  In so doing, it serves as a request for legal services, the start of a document assembly process, and a contract management repository.  Washburn also characterized the software as a knowledge management tool.  For example they can generate NDA’s very quickly and are putting in a capability for licensing agreements.  The Salesforce software thus overlaps with some of the functions of a matter management system and some of the functions of a contract management system.

Somewhat misleading data about law departments and e-billing: leading and laggard countries

A former executive of two matter management and legal e-billing companies, Jeff Hodge recently wrote a white paper for Bridgeway, one of the leading providers of both kinds of software. Entitled Legal Spend Management: An International Perspective, it discusses at page 5 the migration of U.S. law departments to Europe and beyond and “With this expansion comes the need for both global and local legal expertise on an unprecedented scale.” Figure 1 immediately below that sentence maps the world with countries color-coded as it “shows the predominance and pace of e-billing uptake worldwide.” It’s easy to read this as pertaining to legal invoices that arrive electronically, but that is not right.

Strikingly, the “Leaders” include Mexico, Chile, and Brazil in South America as well as three Scandinavian countries and Switzerland. This seems so improbable in terms of law departments and e-billing that I investigated the source of the data: Billentis. The Billentis report in May 2012 covers e-invoicing generally, not specifically legal e-billing. Based on my consulting experience as well as MMS Insights, and at the risk of chauvinism, I suspect that U.S. legal departments lead in terms of volume and proportion of legal invoices handled electronically.

Web-based offering that prepares litigation decision trees

A former general counsel, John DeGroote, has created Resolution Tree. An online service, it allows law departments to prepare litigation trees as needed for a fixed cost. An ad in Alternatives, March 2012 at 80, brought this to my attention.

I have mentioned DeGroote before (See my post of Feb. 13, 2009 #4: Settlement Perspectives blog; and Jan. 20, 2012: CLO compared to GC titles.) as well as tools like decision trees for settlements (See my post of June 17, 2009: decision tree software with 6 references; July 9, 2009: comments about decision trees; Oct. 21, 2009: online decision tree for import/export law; June 17, 2011: models and decision trees; and Dec. 31, 2011: process analysis should branch out to decision trees.).

Contract drafting and review tool made available by the Association of Corporate Counsel

The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) has made available a contract-drafting tool with four primary features. As described more fully by Robert Ambrogi in LTN Law Tech. News, June 2012 at 36, Contract Advisor has model contracts, with a group of ten to start from. It also has a clause library organized by agreement and clause type, along with a tool to compare your contract with a Contract Advisor contract. Fourth, there are source documents available at the ACC website.

Contract Advisor is available online and it is powered by kiiac (See my post of April 19, 2010: Michael Mills refers to Kiiac and Kingsley Martin, its founder.).

Specialized survey on document management for intellectual property

A provider of SaaS-based IP management technology, First To File®, launched this month an IP Document Management Survey to gather information from corporations and IP law firms on this genre of software. One question listed eight reasons why a law department might invest in such a system.

The survey asks respondents who have a Document Management Solution (DMS) or are considering one for their top three reasons for moving to it. It’s a good list, so I have reproduced it below.

Cost savings
Paper elimination
Competitive reasons- everyone else is doing it
Organization, efficiency, and security (no more lost files, etc)
Increased visibility, anywhere at any time, across portfolios
Increased ability to react quickly to market changes
Increased client service (internal or external)
Mobile connectivity/remote access to information

Three clusters of software for matter management according to ground-breaking report

Roughly summarized from the research presented in MMS Insights, four MMS packages stand out as having averaged more years in use, more lawyers in their departments, and more external spend under management. A second group of four packages were, generally speaking, less in longevity, less in average numbers of lawyers, and less paid to external counsel. Seven packages occupied another tier below that.

Not surprisingly, therefore, the law department market has segmented in terms of matter management software. We might think of them as industrial grade packages for heavy spenders, main stream packages for the middle-of-the-road spenders, and lite products for the relatively low spenders. Vendors of this specialized software logically tend to target one of those segments more than the other two.

If your IT group or your law department would like to purchase the report, please write its analyst and author, Rees Morrison, at