Legal Matter Management Essentials for Modern Law Offices

Misbah Jalal Siddiqui

Legal Matter Management Essentials for Modern Law Offices

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Matter management describes the management of all elements involved in an individual legal matter within a firm and is an integral factor in the success of any law practice.

Proper and effective organization offers insight into the various facets of each matter and provides a clear sense of a matter’s trajectory in order to reasonably anticipate the next steps and best practices. Legal matter management requires a clear delegation of responsibilities and deadlines to ensure work is not duplicated and is completed on time. Additionally, communication (both internal and with the client) is an essential component of a productive matter management system and necessitates that the appropriate parties retain access to all pertinent communication records, documents, and details.

What Can Go Wrong?

Inconsistency When Opening Matters & Recording Progress

Without a legal matter management system in place, a law firm’s procedure of opening and maintaining client files is bound to become inconsistent. To facilitate uniformity and avoid possible record-keeping errors, it must be clear which information will be collected at the start of the process, how files will be compiled and stored, and who has access to these records.

Inaccurate or Scattered Database

When information is spread out amongst various files or tools, it can be difficult to see the “big picture.” Furthermore, certain functions such as conflict checks or firm financial transactions require a unified view to guarantee accuracy.

Matter details stored in multiple tools may result in a “scattered database” that does not provide a central location for all essential information. This can cause other difficulties, including:

  • Losing track of clients and communication history
  • Missing critical deadlines
  • Misplacing important information (e.g. notes and expenses)
  • Doubling up on tasks or work that may have already been completed

Common Solutions

Self-Built Solutions or Task-Specific Software

When originating a legal matter, important steps like client intake, conflict checks, receiving important documentation, defining important deadlines, and executing fee agreements are often top of the to-do list. Many lawyers and firms create their own systems or use software to automate processes, such as creating an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of necessary matter deadlines. For ongoing file maintenance and important reminders, firms may also choose to utilize a solution like a tickler file or system.

Centralizing Areas of the Matter

The next step may be to find tools that specialize in certain areas. Firms often adopt a calendaring solution that allows all lawyers to view the events associated with a matter, or they may implement financial management software that helps to standardize billing. Centralizing information for easy documentation and accessibility is a necessary method for managing even the smallest of caseloads.

Negative Financial Effects

Without the proper tools to point out inefficiencies, it is easy to lose track of important factors such as how much time is being spent on tasks, which lawyers are working on what matters, client retainers, and firm costs, resulting in wasted time and money.

Regular File Reviews/Reporting on Progress

Tracking matter progress or various matrices is often conducted manually through regular file reviews and reports. Typically, an individual in a firm will be assigned the task of compiling various manual reports. For example, firms may schedule regular file reviews, and a team member may be asked to produce a report that includes important matter details. At these meetings, individuals report on the progress of the matter so that other members of the firm remain up-to-date. Regular review of important information will keep the key players informed so that the best decisions can be made.

Ways to Improve on Common Solutions


One goal of a legal matter management system is to help reduce human error. To accomplish this, it is best to adopt a system that has a consistent method of opening and reporting on matter progress. Keep in mind that legal-specific tools can be very helpful in this respect, as they uphold these standard requirements.

Find a system that can automatically add, fill in, or restrict matter input fields to help with standardizing data entry. Additionally, the tool should allow for custom field entry in order to keep track of a firm’s important data. Automation is another useful feature; workflows and templates help standardize actions, documents, and tasks across the firm.

Unify Solutions

Unifying solutions into, preferably, an all-in-one system will result in added benefits. First, centralized data makes it easier to find information. This can also improve internal firm communication as well as the quality of communication with clients — leading to fewer client disputes and an increased likelihood of getting paid on time.

Use a Cloud-Based Matter Management System

To take it a step further, utilize a cloud-based solution that promotes centralized matter management. Not only does this provide 24/7 access to the most updated case information from anywhere, but it also offers peace of mind by reducing the risk of lost or misplaced data.

Use Information Wisely & Continuously Improve with Matter Matrices

While regular meetings are useful, a system that provides business intelligence and analytics will significantly enhance productivity. A centralized system displays information in one location, allowing complete access across team members and providing reports and analytics. When selecting systems that will offer operational or financial intelligence, keep in mind that compliance is key: legal firms are different than any other business.

The CosmoLex Solution

Standardization Every Step of the Way

Because CosmoLex is legal-specific and fully integrated with legal billing, accounting, and practice management, it serves as an excellent legal matter management solution. It is an effective tool for individual firms to standardize the way that new matters are opened and how progress is logged and offers features such as custom fields, auto-filled fields (like file numbers), and implementation permissions and restrictions to limit mistakes. The billing capabilities also facilitate standardized billing and collections processes and track timekeepers’ and lawyers’ workloads.

Easy Access & Centralized Data

In CosmoLex, each file has its own “Matter Details” section to review billing, calendar events, emails, and notes associated with a matter. Additionally, this feature also makes it easy to locate any item entered during the entire history of the case.

It is important to note that communications, document management, financial information, and important matter details are all accessible using a single CosmoLex login – anytime, anywhere. Unifying data in this way enables useful activities such as conflict checks, automated document templates, and the use of the client portal. And since CosmoLex is a cloud-based program, it offers full mobility and remote access.

Interactive Dashboards, At-A-Glance Views & Automated Reports

Easily identify and address red flags while simultaneously promoting continued improvement by staying informed of each matter’s progress. CosmoLex is built to show at-a-glance information and it provides the right reporting to provide the operational and financial intelligence firms need to ensure best practices and increase productivity.

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