What is Matter Management? A Guide for In-House Legal

We clarify the must-knows about matter management, outline its importance in the corporate legal landscape, and explain how it’s evolved over the years.

Let’s be honest: If you’re not thinking about how to optimize matter management in your legal team, you’re not utilizing your team’s full potential.

Legal teams around the world are coming to this realization, with a recent Deloitte survey revealing that a staggering 41% of legal departments plan to evaluate or implement legal intake and matter management solutions within the next 12 months.

But if you’re not sure what the fuss is about, or what matter management even means in the context of corporate legal departments, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’ll clarify the must-knows about matter management, outline its importance in the corporate legal landscape, and explain how it’s evolved over the years.

We’ll also cover what effective matter management systems look like and the benefits of implementing such a solution in your legal department. Then, we’ll guide you through the process of selecting the best matter management software for your team, ensuring you’re set up for success in the years ahead.

What is matter management?

In the context of corporate legal, matter management is the process of organizing, tracking, and controlling every aspect of a legal matter from start to finish.

It encompasses everything from initial intake and triage of new requests to document management, deadline tracking, and ongoing communication among team members and business partners.

Effective matter management is essential for any corporate legal department, as it ensures seamless coordination and collaboration while minimizing risks, maximizing productivity, and enabling your team to handle the increasingly demanding workloads placed on corporate legal.

Internal vs external matter management

Matter management can refer to both internal and external systems. Internal matter management is focused on matters handled primarily by the in-house legal team, while external matter management systems are used to track and manage work done by outside counsel.

While both systems are useful and serve the purpose of organizing and streamlining legal work, in this article, we’ll focus primarily on internal matter management systems.

Matter management vs. case management

While matter management and case management are terms sometimes used interchangeably, they actually refer to distinct approaches for very different use cases.

Matter management

Matter management is a holistic strategy for handling legal work, including internal and external issues. Most legal matters originate internally, allowing organizations to address them with internal resources before involving external counsel if necessary.

Effective matter management strategies leverage software to streamline, coordinate, and support these tasks. 

These systems empower organizations to resolve issues internally and engage external counsel only when needed. Importantly, matter management applies to any business or organization, not just law firms.

Case management

In contrast, case management is specific to the legal profession, focusing on the tools and strategies law firms and legal organizations use to manage litigation. Case management solutions help lawyers organize and navigate extensive documentation involved in legal cases.

While invaluable to legal professionals at law firms, these tools aren’t designed for use in in-house legal teams.

When it comes to making legal processes run smoother, you’ll often hear the terms matter management, legal intake, enterprise service management, and enterprise legal management (ELM) used almost interchangeably.

They might sound similar, but each one means something a little different. Let’s break them down and see where matter management fits into this big picture.

  • Matter Management: Think of this as your all-encompassing guidebook for managing a legal matter from start to finish. It helps you keep track of all the details – like relevant documents, important dates, and communication threads. It’s like the backbone that keeps everything in order.
  • Legal Intake: This is like the department’s digital front door. It’s the process you use to receive and prioritize new legal requests, and your way of ensuring you have all the info you need to proceed and no important requests fall through the cracks.
  • Enterprise Service Management (ESM): Now, this term isn’t just for legal teams. It’s basically a way of describing how businesses manage their internal services – from HR to IT to, yes, legal. It’s all about creating smooth and efficient processes across the company — and across various enterprise systems and software.
  • Enterprise Legal Management (ELM): This is like the grand overseer for all things legal in a business. It’s about everything from spend and matter management to legal analytics and contract management. ELM is all about making sure that every aspect of your legal operations is running like a well-oiled machine.

Now, to bring them all together. Legal intake is your first step – it opens the door to each case. Matter management takes that case and keeps it neat and tidy.

ELM takes a bird’s-eye view of everything – it oversees all your legal operations, including matter management.

And all of this is happening inside the bigger umbrella of ESM, which is concerned with efficient processes across the whole company.

So, each piece has its own job, but they all work together to keep things working effectively.

The traditional approach to matter management often involved a patchwork of disconnected platforms, emails, messages, and databases.

This disjointed system makes it difficult for legal professionals to track and manage matters efficiently, leading to wasted time, frustration, and an increased likelihood of errors or missed deadlines.

Thankfully, technology has evolved to help corporate legal departments better handle their matters.

Intake and matter management software is an increasingly essential tool that provides legal teams with a unified platform to manage their cases from start to finish. These systems have not only streamlined the way legal matters are handled but have also enabled legal professionals to work more effectively and proactively.

Many industry leaders even consider implementing these systems to be a standard best practice in 2024.

A recent research report from Gartner recommended that legal team leaders establish matter management as a crucial component of their tech strategy and prioritize the adoption of matter management solutions in order to meet the demands of a modern business.

BRYTER’s matter management software, for example, is designed with these demands in mind.

It empowers legal teams with the tools needed to optimize their workflows, ensuring they can serve the ever-evolving needs of the modern corporate legal environment.

It simplifies intake, organizes all legal requests into a central inbox, keeps everyone in the loop on the status of matters, and provides the legal team with powerful analytics to further improve their operations.

Key features of effective matter management systems

When looking for a matter management solution that will truly benefit your legal department, it’s important to consider the following essential features:

Intake and triage

Matter management that starts with email
Matter management systems can integrate directly with email, Slack, MS Teams, or wherever you currently conduct intake.

Matter management systems provide a streamlined process for receiving and processing new requests, collecting additional information, and routing matters to the right expert on your team.

The best matter management systems do this in a way that requires no change in behavior from your business partners.

After all, asking colleagues across the business to learn and adopt another new platform just adds another barrier between you and frankly, you don’t have time to run an entire change management project across the entire business!

At BRYTER, we believe the best approach to legal intake is to allow your internal clients to continue reaching out the way they normally do — via email, MS Teams, Slack, or any platform.

By using our plugins, any request from these channels automatically creates a matter in your dashboard – enabling you to sort, delegate and track in one central place, and stop having to monitor multiple communication channels.

One dashboard for all matters

Get full visibility across all your team’s matters by consolidating all requests and matters into one central place.

This central legal operating system provides a clear overview of all matters and enables privacy control and individual views for each lawyer on your team.

With everything in one place, your team can work more efficiently and effectively, and department leaders get full visibility of the work their team is managing.

Secure document and file upload and storage

Protect sensitive documents and files while ensuring easy access and retrieval when needed. Robust security measures keep your information safe, while a well-organized storage system allows for quick and efficient document management.

Look for matter management systems like BRYTER’s which integrate with your existing document management systems so that you can simply include a link to a document and have one source of truth.

Deadline tracking

Effective matter management systems enable you to easily track deadlines by integrating directly with your calendar.

Data and analytics

Matter management systems enable you to track every input to give you a full, data-driven picture of your team’s work. Track how long it takes to resolve matters, which lines of business are submitting the most requests, and identify opportunities to improve efficiency.

With this dashboard at your fingertips, you can make informed decisions, drive continuous improvement in your legal department, and more easily report on the legal department’s activities to stakeholders.

Benefits of implementing matter management software

Adopting a comprehensive matter management system can have a significant impact on your legal department’s overall performance. Here are some of the key benefits you can expect:

  • Improved efficiency and productivity: By streamlining processes and consolidating information in a central location, your team can quickly access and manage matters, reducing time spent searching for information across multiple channels and enabling them to focus on high-value tasks rather than tedious, administrative ones.
  • Enhanced collaboration and communication: A centralized matter management platform fosters better communication among team members and business partners, ensuring everyone is on the same page and reducing the likelihood of miscommunication.
  • Risk mitigation and compliance: With improved visibility and tracking capabilities, your team can better manage deadlines and ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, minimizing the risk of missed deadlines or requests falling through the cracks, and the associated consequences.
  • Better time management and resource allocation: Data and analytics provided by matter management systems allow you to identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement, optimizing your team’s capacity and ensuring resources are allocated effectively.
  • Increased client satisfaction: By improving your legal department’s efficiency, responsiveness, and overall effectiveness, you can foster stronger relationships with your internal clients and enhance your team’s reputation within the broader business. Data and analytics dashboards allow your team to clearly demonstrate their value to business partners.

Choosing the best matter management software for your legal department

Selecting the right matter management software for your team is crucial to ensure that you reap the full benefits of implementing such a solution. Here are some steps to guide you through the decision-making process:

Assess your department’s unique needs

Begin by evaluating your legal department’s specific requirements and challenges. Consider the size of your team, the types of matters you handle, and your existing processes and systems. This will help you identify the features and capabilities most important to your team.

Consider realistic adoption and minimal disruption

Choose a solution that minimizes barriers to adoption by allowing business users to interact with the system in their existing environments, like email, Slack, or MS Teams.

For example, BRYTER’s matter management solution enables business users to reach out the way they already do, without having to directly interact with the platform if they choose not to. This ensures that interactions remain personal and adoption is smooth and seamless.

Evaluate vendor reputation and support

Research the reputation of potential software vendors, paying attention to customer reviews and testimonials. Choose a vendor with a proven track record of success and a strong commitment to customer support, ensuring that you’ll receive the assistance and guidance you need throughout the implementation process and beyond.

Consider integration with existing systems

It’s important to select a matter management solution that can seamlessly integrate with your team’s existing tools and platforms, such as email, calendars, and other software applications. This will help ensure a smooth transition and minimize disruptions to your team’s workflows.

By carefully considering these factors, you can select the best matter management software for your legal department, setting your team up for success and ensuring you can take full advantage of the many benefits a comprehensive matter management solution has to offer.

Make matter management a priority for your legal team

Prioritizing and optimizing matter management is crucial for corporate legal operations, as it directly impacts your department’s efficiency, effectiveness, and overall reputation within the organization.

As corporate legal teams face increasing demands and expectations, implementing a comprehensive matter management solution has transformed from a luxury to an absolute necessity.

Understanding the importance of matter management, along with the key features that make a system truly effective, empowers your team to leverage technology in transforming your operations. It’s essential to select a solution that aligns with your unique needs, facilitates seamless adoption, and integrates with existing systems, setting your legal department on the path to success.

Don’t miss the chance to optimize your matter management – embrace the future of legal operations and elevate your team with a solution designed to help your legal department excel in 2024 and beyond.

Book a personalized demo