As we’re wrapping up November, it’s easy to spot this year’s hot issues in the ELM market. 2019 was all about data: reporting and analytics were on top of everyone’s wish list. Legal departments crave instant and specific insight into spend, rates, and performance. Another topic that dominated the ELM space this year: AI. Everyone claims they have it, yet no two vendors can agree on what it actually does. The possible uses for AI in ELM software are limitless. At Acuity, our focus is (and has always been) how we can build an ELM product that facilitates more productivity, efficiency, and success, all the while staying ahead of new trends and needs of our clients. AI will only add to that mission.

So, what do we expect in 2020? Here’s a glimpse:

Legal Hold – consider implementing a Legal Hold system to automate your notifications, reminders, and custodian maintenance. Many companies still rely on paper files and spreadsheets to watch their holds and notice responses. Putting all this information into a system that generates and sends your notices, tracks acknowledgments (or lack thereof), and produces reminders will increase your compliance and decrease the opportunity for errors.

Enhanced Reporting – the need for reporting in the ELM space grows daily, with each new matter or firm or legal issue. Our clients are asking for more enhanced reporting tools that generate specific actionable reports. Predictive analytics – the use of data, machine learning techniques, and other techniques to identify the likelihood of future outcomes based on historical data – will be key to successful performance in the coming years. Merge the data on your firm success/failure rate with spending data (ie., total case costs) to help forecast threats and costs in 2020 and beyond.

Accruals and Budgets – speaking of costs, accurately predicting your legal spend on a monthly or quarterly basis is critically important.  Ask your firms to provide a total case budget, including expenses, at the time of engagement and combine that with an eBilling tool to enforce compliance. A budget is a long-term plan that will inform some of your decision makings; however, you should also require your firms to provide accruals, giving you current and actual spend estimates on a regular basis to predict cash flow and to true back to budget performance.  A reliable accrual v actual report is key and will be greatly appreciated by your finance folks.

Easier Review – eBilling has evolved over the years. Our systems are more sophisticated, firms are more compliant, and spend is on the decline.  One of the results of all that success is that in-house teams can now rely more on automated review options. Look for systems that do the review for you, enforce your billing guidelines, monitor your budgets, or alert you when things are not right. Consider implementing auto-approval based on favorable attributes. And when invoices need human review, encourage speedier turnaround by monitoring cycle times and escalating invoices when they go untouched.

So, 2020 looks like this: fewer administrative tasks, less spend, better productivity, and more favorable results. Contact Acuity and let us show you how.

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