Articles Posted in Technology

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On May 7, 2012,’s Corporate Counsel page offered some hardish data on the cost of a leading matter management system. “The cost of the [Serengeti Tracker] system ranges from about a quarter of a percent of a company’s outside legal spend, to about one percent of that budget.” Preceding that statement was some background information about the company and its product, focused more on law firms than on law departments: “Serengeti, which launched in 2001, now has 150,000 users in more than 180 countries, and adds more than 3,000 new users a month. Close to 500 in-house departments are on board—including, Heinz, Alcatel-Lucent, and Capital One.” My focus is the cost statement.

For a typical U.S. company with $1 billion in revenue, its total legal spend falls between $3 and $6 million. For our purposes, take the mid-point of $4.5 million and allocate 60% of that to outside counsel. That means the cost of Seregeti Tracker for such a hypothetical law department is somewhat more than a half-percent of $2.7 million, or somewhat above $13,000. As it is difficult to find public information about the cost of this common genre of law department software, this tidbit and estimated conversion to dollars has some value.

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Heretofore, no one has combined data on matter management systems (MMS) and staffing or spending benchmark metrics. Such a fertile mash-up, however, is now available from General Counsel Metrics, LLC. MMS Insights reports on 130 users of more than 15 matter management systems in Canadian and U.S. legal departments.

Typical sizes of the law departments that use a MMS differentiate the packages. For example, for the eight packages with the most departments using them, the average department size is 51 lawyers. Custom-application departments, of which there were 19, averaged 14 lawyers. In the smallest range, law departments that indicated they had no MMS or did not identify one averaged 8.4 lawyers. Clearly, the larger the department, the more likely it is to have licensed a matter management package.

If your IT group or your law department would like to learn more about MMS Insights, please write its analyst and author, Rees Morrison.

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A ground-breaking report, MMS Insights, combines data on matter management systems (MMS) with benchmark metrics. Prepared by General Counsel Metrics, LLC, the study reports on 130 users of more than 15 matter management systems in Canadian and U.S. legal departments. This first edition will be followed by a second, in the Fall, which will wrap in all the additional data being collected in this year’s survey.

Focused on North American departments, the first edition doesn’t analyze the many packages available elsewhere, such as substantial players like Benner, Espaider, Gerpro, Iken, Kleos, Legal-Suites, Qualidata, and Tedesco. As they gain benchmark participants, these country-based packages, which are often in a native language, will be covered.

Insights does not yet distinguish between hosted and cloud platforms nor whether e-billing capabilities are included. It does include data on the longevity of packages as well as custom programs, SharePoint implementations, and uses of Microsoft Office products.

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A ground-breaking report, which combines data on matter management systems (MMS) along with popular benchmark ratios, is the creation of General Counsel Metrics, LLC. MMS Insights reports on 130 Canadian and U.S. legal departments that use one of more than 15 matter management systems. Its dozen charts and explanatory text show how the MMS packages with at least three departments compare to each other on such benchmarks as average number of lawyers in the department and total legal spend as a percentage of revenue. Also, the 110-page report collects more than 150 posts from this blog regarding MMS, all organized under five commonly asked questions, edited, indexed, and cross-referenced.

A series of posts here will share some of the findings from the study. If your IT group or your law department would like to obtain MMS Insights, please write its analyst and author, Rees Morrison, at

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As of two days ago, of the 275 companies that had participated in the General Counsel Metrics benchmark survey, 87 of them named the matter management software they use (including four who listed “custom”). Of those 275 companies, 56 named their contract management package (including nine “custom”). Note that approximately three out of four participants in the GC Metrics survey are U.S. or Canadian legal departments. To my surprise, ten respondents gave the same package for both applications.

The benchmark survey may triple by year’s end, so the two ratios that follow may shift. Preliminarily, however, almost two matter management packages have been installed or every one contract management. Of the 87 law departments with a named MMS, 33 also named a contract management system – so again roughly speaking half the time a department with one solution has the other.

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Most law departments are asked to review a steady stream of marketing material such as ads, packaging, catalogues, press releases, and web sites – anything making an assertion to the public in theory deserves a legal look over: “Can we say it” and “Do we have sufficient support?”

To cope and to maintain some consistent standards, some legal departments work with their marketing counterparts to develop and agree to a “claims matrix” of approved wording for the range of claims and outlets.

Software can help track claims as well as what information goes toward regulatory compliance (agency markings like those of Underwriters Lab, power ratings, and requirements of agencies or quasi-agencies like environmental groups), marketing, consumer care, etc. One law department uses software called Windchill to help with management of market-oriented claims.

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Last summer, Legal Suite, a French powerhouse of matter management software for legal departments, conducted a survey. Legal Suite invited visitors to Village de Justice, an online site for lawyers in France, to answer questions about their legal technology use. They collected 58 responses and published the findings.

One question asked about what blocks investment in law department software (“les freins à l’informatisation du départment juridique”). I translated the responses as laid out on page 4. Of the five choices available, no one selected the internal IT department; about 10% chose time to invest; 20% chose “my manager” and 30% chose cost. The most significant obstacle, however, at 40% was the culture of the company (“La culture de votre enterprise”).

To blame lack of technology on your company’s “culture” seems wimpish. If you have a need, the budget, and IT support, it’s your fault if you don’t install software and hardware that helps your legal department. If you would like to see the report, write Legal Suite and mention this post.

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During the summer of 2011, Legal Suite, a leading French provider of matter management software for legal departments, conducted a survey of visitors to Village de Justice, an online site for lawyers. They collected 58 responses and published the results.

One question asked about the benefits respondents anticipated from specialized legal-department software (“Quelles bénéfices attendez-vous d’un logiciel de gestion specialize?”). Nine choices were available to respondents. My translation of them follows and the percentage of respondents who selected them.

Improve our image as a business partner in the company (5%)

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An ongoing survey distributed by Hyperion Research Group, experts in patent management and technology, listed the following eleven packages for intellectual property packages. A handful of posts on this blog have mentioned some of these, such as CPA Global, Dennemeyr, and CPI, but for all the others they are making their debut appearance here.

Computer Packages (CPI)

CPA Global - FoundationIP
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Some 70 law departments that provided data to an ALM survey last year responded to a question about e-billing. Of them, 18 said they use an electronic billing program. The question did not differentiate between matter management and e-billing software, which often is the same these days. For that subset, the median percentage of law firms retained by the company that submitted e- bills was 90 percent and about the same percentage of invoices by amount went through the system.

If we assume that the lack of an answer means no e-billing system, then approximately a quarter of this law department population has put that tool to use, and for nearly all their firms and invoices. That is a higher percentage than uses a matter management system, which doesn’t make sense. Perhaps the finding is an artifact of this particular survey, its question, and the respondent population.