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Take Back Your Time

Seema Tendolkar - Sep 18, 2018 11:45:00 AM

According to a survey by the Association of Corporate Counsel, nearly half of in-house attorneys report an increase in their workload, logging an average of 49 hours per week. This increase has been attributed to new laws, regulatory changes, M&A, staffing changes, and business needs. But there is another reason: more and more organizations are shifting work away from outside counsel and bringing it in-house, even when they are satisfied with the work. In a 2017 In-House Benchmarking Report by Exterro, BDO, and EDRM Duke Law, 51% of the responding in-house attorneys stated that more than half of their legal activities were conducted internally.

Bringing work in-house achieves the goals of reducing spend, retaining control over data, and leveraging internal experience and capacity, according to this report. But it’s not without challenges. Corporate counsel must creatively balance stagnant resources with increasingly complex work, and tackle both day-to-day corporate responsibilities and heavy litigation caseloads. The Benchmarking survey respondents noted that they were quite satisfied with the work product of their teams, but wanted to be more efficient, specifically in the areas of practice group integration and operations support.

For cases handled internally, in-house attorneys take on the project manager role, overseeing administrative tasks such as coordinating projects, ensuring deadlines are met, and managing reporting, while also retaining responsibility for substantive matters such as case strategy. The lack of a consistent process to manage both of these areas simultaneously often results in disorganization, putting out fires, and reactive deadline management. In-house counsel noted that their teams continued to use “basic tools” such as spreadsheets and email to manage cases, and characterized themselves as “immature” when it comes to processes:

“We end up emailing around spreadsheets, rather than inputting the data once into a database that is easily accessible and provides and ability to pull reports automatically.”

But these trends are changing. Corporate legal departments have started implementing consistent, formal processes to manage the various phases of litigation and complete legal tasks more efficiently and effectively. Implementing such processes also provides transparency and predictability for all stakeholders, as well as cost control. Legal case management and matter management tools can be used (replacing spreadsheets and emails) as collaborative platforms to manage all case information, as well as establish a history of litigation work to be used in future matters, reducing costly and time-consuming emails, phone calls, and memoranda. Strategic and deliberate management of cases handled internally, along with mature processes, will quiet the chaos and free up time.

Topics: legal tech- corporate legal data- legal team value- legal ops- Insider- litigation management

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What Should You Do With New Associates?

Seema Tendolkar - Sep 11, 2018 9:50:25 AM

Law schools have traditionally focused on teaching students to think like lawyers, concentrating on theory, reasoning, and analysis, instead of practical skills. This emphasis has likely resulted in the fact that many (if not most) new lawyers are unprepared to practice law. In a LexisNexis survey of 300 hiring partners and senior associates tasked with supervising new attorneys, 95% responded that recent law school graduates lack the practical skills to do their job. Lacking this foundation significantly decreases the value new attorneys bring to their firms and clients (not to mention makes the first few years of practicing law unpleasant).  While many law school graduates do not yet possess the skills to represent clients, they are tasked to do just that.

So what are the important practical skills that new litigators lack? One particular pain point, noted across firms big and small, is that new litigators do not have an understanding of how a litigation matter “actually happens in real life.” An important component of being an effective attorney is strategizing to resolve clients’ problems. But a novice litigator with minimal exposure to the lifecycle of a lawsuit is not well-positioned to address the myriad of issues and problems that arise in the various phases of litigation, which often becomes apparent through drafting that misses the mark. This is consistent with the findings of the LexisNexis survey, which showed that new litigators lack experience in the “highly important” areas of drafting pleadings, substantive motions (including dispositive motions and motions to compel), written discovery requests, and trial briefs, among other things.  

Law schools are not preparing new litigators to be aware of the problems they are likely to face, nor are they arming them with skills to help solve these problems. And the demands of private law practice make it important to obtain these skills as quickly as possible. To address this issue, firms are spending an average of $19,000 per new associate in training, much of which is on in-house presentations, focusing on advanced legal research skills, as well as drafting important pleadings, motions, and discovery documents. A better way to train may be learning by doing and by tapping into existing resources, such as encouraging law students to participate in clinical programs and judicial internships during law school, or take on pro bono matters upon bar admission. Legal technology tools can also be a low-cost and effective way for novice attorneys to be guided through the life cycle of a lawsuit, providing standards and guidelines along the way. Additionally, knowledge management tools that strategically organize case documents by topic or subject matter can be used for training purposes, and can provide new attorneys with quick access to firm precedents to use as a starting point. The most significant progress and professional development will, of course, come from real lawyering.

Topics: legal tech- corporate legal data- legal team value- legal ops- Insider- litigation management

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It’s Time to Talk: 10 Questions to Ask Your Litigation Firms

Seema Tendolkar - Sep 4, 2018 10:10:11 AM

When law firms do not provide adequate legal services, clients seek new counsel. But when it is the delivery of those servies that is inadequate, they often accept the status quo, which negatively impacts client satisfaction as well as outcomes such as the cost, speed, accuracy, and quality of legal services. According to a study conducted by the Association of Corporate Counsel, when law firms were questioned as to why they were not doing more to change the delivery of legal services, the response was that clients were not asking for it.

The ACC’s guide, Unless You Ask, is a worthy read of 82 pages, and covers in detail numerous topics that will ehance the attorney-client relationship. In this blog post, we present 10 questions in a similar vein for clients to ask their outside counsel that will facilitate the improvement of legal services delivery. These inquires focus on communication, transparency, and value, and are designed to foster smarter partnerships. For your current litigation firms, consider using these at an annual check-up meeting and to establish goals for the relationship. For firms you may potentially work with, the responses to these questions will indicate whether or not they are committed to improving legal operations and the delivery of legal services.

Topics: legal tech- corporate legal data- legal team value- legal ops- Insider- litigation management

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Litigation Budgets: The Problem with Pricing

Seema Tendolkar - Jul 31, 2018 11:16:58 AM

It is probably not a surprise that the top five areas of service improvements that corporate legal counsel seek from outside counsel all relate to legal spend reduction, control, and innovation, according to the 2017 Altman Weil Chief Legal Officer Survey, which collected information from 280 in-house legal departments. 46.2 percent of respondents listed “improved budget forecasting” as one of the top service improvements they would like to see from law firms.  Meanwhile, in the parallel Altman Weil 2018 Law Firms in Transition survey, which polled nearly 400 law firms that had 50 or more attorneys, 59.4 percent of law firms said that they were working to develop data on the costs of their services.

Topics: legal tech- corporate legal data- legal team value- legal ops- Insider- litigation management

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Are Your Law Firms Leaving You in the Dark?

Seema Tendolkar - Jul 24, 2018 10:43:22 AM

Communication is the foundation of any successful relationship, yet numerous surveys and studies have shown that within the context of the attorney-client relationship, corporate clients have routinely expressed frustration about communication with their law firms, as well as the limited visibility they have into matters which are handled by outside counsel.  Why is this important, and how does it impact the relationship between corporate clients and their outside counsel? 

Topics: legal tech- corporate legal data- legal team value- legal ops- Insider- litigation management

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The Paper Chase: The Cost of Document Hassles

Seema Tendolkar - Jul 19, 2018 9:24:02 AM
 

When litigation attorneys and paralegals grouse about “document review,” they are generally referring to the review of documents and information during discovery for potential production.  But there are other types of document-related tasks that are equally laborious and irksome – but, unlike doc review, neither necessary nor productive. These include searching one’s own information systems in order to locate a particular document, digging through emails to locate attachments, and recreating documents that cannot be found. Information workers, including attorneys and paralegals, spend a significant amount of time dealing with these and other similar document-related problems, according to research by the International Data Corporation. In an industry where time is quite literally money, these efforts have a tangible negative impact on worker productivity, hours billed, and firm revenue (not to mention considerable frustration).

Topics: legal tech- corporate legal data- legal team value- legal ops- Insider- litigation management

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Vector Legal Method Announces Release of Litigation Management Platform

Seema Tendolkar - Feb 6, 2018 9:49:55 AM
 

Topics: Litigation Case Management- Vector Legal Method- Kansas City

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10 Best Startups in Kansas City

Seema Tendolkar - Jan 24, 2018 5:57:37 PM

 

Topics: Litigation Case Management- Vector Legal Method- Kansas City

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Introducing the Vector Blog

Seema Tendolkar - Aug 2, 2017 9:49:18 AM

Welcome to the Vector Legal Method Blog, the blog and newsroom for Vector Legal Method, a Software-as-a Service (SaaS) solution provider for the litigation industry.

The name Vector comes from our goal to provide a map and plan to navigate the complexities of
litigation. Just as pilots and air traffic controllers use vectoring to navigate, guide, and fly
planes, Vector provides litigators and paralegals the ability to successfully plan for and navigate
through multiple cases simultaneously. Vector was designed by lawyers for lawyers.

Topics: Litigation Case Management- Vector Legal Method

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