The LVN Council of Luminaries is comprised of veteran thought leaders and pioneers in the business of law community. The objective behind assembling this group is to establish a brain trust of recognized, experienced and progressive leaders who can help interpret developments in the market, provide advice on how to successfully approach and navigate challenges, predict future trends and changes to prepare for, and to participate in targeted special projects to benefit the legal industry as a whole.
The below meeting was conducted primarily with the Council Of Luminaries CLIENT-SIDE group.
Today’s discussion focused mostly on systems Interoperability and contract management
Luminary 1 – Of course law departments need an e-billing system. And many have other systems, too, e.g., contract management (“KTech”) expanded to DMS and maybe expanded to matter management, too. But these systems don’t interconnect. Do we care if these systems interconnect or not?
Luminary 2 – I have inherited a KTech that the company chose – so I don’t need to select one, so that’s good at least. our new CFO said we need this – it’s being pushed by the CFO because of accounting rules, Sarbox, etc. We are trying to figure out with more specificity where our revenue is coming from. Needs to tie into the financial system, to see from what contract, when, from where, when a deal is renewed.
Luminary 1 – So you’re tying KTech with finance. But not e-billing?
Luminary 2 – We are currently using Oracle for finance and it’s tied. We are concentrating on revenue-generating contracts
Luminary 1 – So if your law department is working on a contract, you’re going to load all the negotiations into the contract management system? Then when it’s final, the financial team will have it?
Luminary 2 – As we get further into the project, yes.
Luminary 3 – So this system is for both pre and post-execution KTech?
Luminary 2 – Yes
Luminary 1 – But revenue side? not procurement agreements?
Luminary 2 - not yet. We’ll have 3 systems of truth 1) procurement 2) revenue and 3) leases.
The systems built for leases are tailor-made for that, with info on rents, what’s covered under the lease, etc.
Luminary 4 – This is a live question for us right now. E-billing and matter management and document management are core technologies for us as we build legal ops from scratch. We pretty quickly found a CLM, looked for but didn’t’ find a tool that met our needs. So we built it ourselves as a custom CLM solution “Contract Central” flagship product of our legal tech team. We are trying to integrate and automate the cycle. So we’ve developed an integrated term review, then Docusign, then into iManage for filing. Also working on some machine learning, capturing key metadata. We plan to start using machine learning to extract key data from the contracts, so plug and play.
I am pushing hard to integrate that with our matter management. I’m pushing hard to integrate matter management, KTech and also e-billing. We are also developing fixed fee menus to go with the contracts. But right now our team has to go to multiple systems to enter the same information. We want to make it so that what our lawyers have to do is efficient and automated.
Luminary 1 – You have a system in which you are building contracts, so it’s not lifecycle (post-execution) only. With templates in there, it’s searchable. The business side has access too so they can do self-service. Also, use to pull out data on when contracts are coming due. Trying to get it to feed into e-billing for outside counsel costs.
How does it connect with the law firm?
Luminary 4 – All agreements are in the system, whether or not they need outside counsel support. But for those that do, in the system, we do know what firm working on what. Many teams have fixed fee pricing menus. If the contract system already knows who is working on what in which jurisdiction, it should already know what that should cost. And ideally, it should open up a new matter in matter management, with the flat fee and deadline assigned.
Luminary 1 – Do your law firms have access to the system?
Luminary 4 – Some do. We are moving in that direction
Luminary 2 – Are you using iManage for the central repository for all fully executed contracts? Luminary 4 – Yes. And that’s already integrated with the contract system.
Luminary 3 – Luminary 2, will your final repository be your KTech system?
Luminary 2 – We have 3 systems now. I find iManage as a repository to be an interesting idea. It may just be an easier simpler solution. We could take our three databases and point them to iManage and store everything there.
KTech systems are custom built for this purpose. And then the debate about what is the central repository. But why even have that fight? You need a central repository for other docs anyway (letters emails, etc.) so why not put everything in a DMS?
Luminary 1 – At one point I tried to use AI to route our contracts, some would have been self-serve. Some would have been you fill out an intake form. Two things happen at the same time, though that slowed it down: The business was switching to Oracle, and we wanted the t to integrate. And then we went through a merger – so attention and resources were diverted. But I like the idea of AI-powered routing process.
Luminary 2 – There are so many things we want to do, but we can only do so much at any given time.
Luminary 1 – We had already done a project so send certain types to a lower cost hub, with playbooks.
Luminary 2 – the interesting challenge I have now is that I’m new and they have never been strict with the firms here. Now suddenly they are want to get stricter. Trying to change that mentality is a challenge.
Luminary 3 – Why haven’t they been stricter in the past?
Luminary 2 – It’s been a highly effective company and it is cultural. They’ve never had a need to rein in the firms. Most of their lawyers came straight from firms, so they are sympathetic to have forms get stuff done. They’ve just never taken the bull by the horns.
Luminary 1 – I’ve been in the same situation.
Luminary 2 – I just sent around the accruals for January. And someone said, “If the firm says it was right, it’s probably right.” Very old school. I was shocked. The firms we work with have not yet gotten used to someone coming over and look at that stuff.
We have so many things to do. It seems like all our firms overuse P300 in LEDES.
Luminary 3 – There’s no real standard.
Luminary 2 – The LEDES codes are just not adequate. That’s the problem. They are not there to get you the fine detail. Now you have 500 versions. And the law firm never. It
Luminary 2 – Bodhala (software provider) says not to code. Their solution uses AI instead. I’m looking into a solution.
Luminary 3 – LegalDecoder and Digitory are other options.