I begin my initial blog with the following observation – approximately half of the hundreds of law departments with whom I have worked in the last thirty years under utilize the software in which they have invested. The result is a less-than-expected Return on Investment (ROI).

This assessment has an obvious flip-side – namely, the other half of law departments in fact utilize software technology effectively. So, if the results are different among departments, but the software is the same, what is the variable?

It has been my experience that the difference in effective utilization can usually be attributed to one of two factors:

  • Limited availability of required internal resources, or
  • An absence of processes.

The purpose of this blog is to introduce some basic concepts related to these two factors, and for those law departments who believe either, or both, factors may exist in their department, provide some initial recommendations on how to address issues related to lack of available internal resources or absence of processes.

Investing in Software Tools – Boom, Bust or Some Degree of Both?

Anyone in business today knows the tremendous value offered by a plethora of software tools – programs that save time, reduce reliance on paper or help manage expenses. Yet, the benefits from such tools are not automatic. Appropriate processes and sufficient resources must be applied to accompany the software; otherwise you won’t realize the return that you expected when you bought the software.

Lack of Internal Resources Applied to the Software Investment

The reason for investing in software technology in the first place is something along the lines of, “We have limited resources, so we have to do more with less.” While that’s a valid reason for investing in software productivity tools, you still have to invest some human resources to administer the software program to achieve your goal of doing more with less.

Depending on the size of the law department, the human resources effort can be as little as one or two hours a week. At a minimum, someone should be responsible to see that data in entered in a consistent and complete manner so that meaningful reports and metrics will be available to management. Garbage in – garbage out.

Absence of Processes

Appropriate processes are even more critical to achieving a law department’s expected return on investment. A law department can acquire top-rated software and assign sufficient human resources to implement the software, but unless they have sufficient processes that all personnel understand and follow, the investment in software and human resources will be wasted.

These processes can, and should be, simple and straightforward. At the most basic level, all activity for which a law department is responsible can be categorized into three phases – Opening, Ongoing and Closing activities. These phases apply to any activity whether it’s litigation, compliance or contract administration. Once people start to think in terms of these three phases, you will see consistent and sustainable results.

Achieving Desired Results – Lock & Load

I’ve seen many success stories among law departments of various sizes. The common themes that consistently appear is a recognition that there is an appropriate level of human resource applied to the software investment, and that there are consistent processes all department members understand and follow to achieve the stated goals of the law department’s software investment.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment