We have regularly written about, and heard from experts, on the importance of properly scoping a matter. Well scoped matters form the basis of a thorough fee structure. They also guide legal project managers in ensuring the right tasks are completed to the right standard. In short, scoping reduces uncertainty.
However, it can be impossible to reduce uncertainty entirely. After all, who hasn't had a matter throw up unexpected challenges along the way? It is estimated that the legal industry loses upwards of 25 billion USD to write-offs each year, indicating that a solution would be of considerable value to the legal industry. What many may be unaware of is that the solution already exists, is easy to implement, and is in regular use by the tech industry.
Readers will already be familiar with one of the key ways technology helps us deal with the unexpected. Notifications. Thankfully, they're not all infuriating pop-ups. They help us avoid data charges by telling us when we're nearly at our monthly limit. They let us know that we will go overdrawn soon if we don't top up our accounts. We can even use tools like Zapier to create bespoke notifications for other apps.
Importantly, notifications identify extremely important information, or actions, and bring our attention to them at the right moment. For this very reason they are ideal for matter management. Work which is running out of hand, or out of budget, can issue a notification to the matter owner or LPM. This enables the person in charge to head off extra costs or unnecessary work before it mounts up.
How to make the most of notifications
In order to make the most of budget or matter notifications, there are a few key points that law firms must address:
- You need to scope a matter thoroughly, to identify work or activities which are essential, and those which are out-of-scope. After all, you can't automate out-of-work notifications if you haven't already identified out-of-scope work.
- You need to track your matters. Notifications are a job for a computer. Computers are far faster and make less errors when comparing data sets. This means that using a program to track your matters (and the hours logged to them) will be completed faster (and out of scope or over budget work will be better identified) when humans are not involved.
- You need to tailor your notifications and align that with the data points you have. The joy of notifications is that they are customizable. So long as you are tracking a metric (seniority, hours logged, activities, practice group etc) you can be notified about it. So if your client doesn't want a senior partner to log hours, and you track seniority, you can set up a notification.
How we make the most of notifications
'Detecting out of scope work is clearly an issue among many firms. At one point in time, it was even a challenge for Hogan Lovells. Recently we have been able to use Clocktimizer technology to retroactively identify out of scope work in a huge matter and take this to the client.'Kelly Quigley, Global LPM Lead for Hogan Lovells
At Clocktimizer, we have built notifications into our platform. We recognize that scoping and budget building is only one side of the coin to keeping a matter on track. The other half is enabling our customers to see when things aren't going to plan. Immediately.
Our notifications and alerts are fully customizable by our clients. We include standard budget notifications, which can be set up for the entire matter, by phase, or even assigned to a single activity. We automatically take the activities outlined in the budget, and compare that to work logged to a matter. When out-of-scope activities are logged, we automatically notify the matter managers or LPM team. We enable our clients to do the same for seniority level, practice group, phase and more.
Importantly, Clocktimizer's budget tracking and notification systems are automated. So no need to change how your firm logs hours or manages matters. We simply let you know when the unexpected happens.