Ever Thought of Leveraging Your Case Management System’s Time Recording Capabilities for Cost Budgeting?
Post by Gemma Taylor |
Once upon a time (15 years ago this October to be exact) I was called to the Bar of England and Wales. What ensued was a career in Costs Litigation, advising professional clients on everything from Detailed Assessment hearings, Inter Partes costs recovery, Precedent H Budgets and Costs and Case Management Conferences. Fast forward to now and I’ve undergone a total career change and I’m working in account management for LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions. Interestingly the skills and experience gained during my career to date has really helped in supporting my customers of Lexis Visualfiles in gaining more for less from their software.
Over the years I’ve observed that most firms have case management systems, but they seldom leverage them as tools to assist with cost budgeting-related activity. Not only is it a missed opportunity, but it’s also low hanging fruit that can make lawyers’ life a lot easier. So, cutting to the chase, here are my top tips for successful costs recovery by utilising your case management system:
1. Time Recording: Does this first tip appoint me as the time recording police? Possibly. Will it be good for you? Absolutely.
Wherever possible get into the habit of recording time as soon as practically possible, post every task. Sounds obvious and “lecture-y” even, but attempting to reconstruct an entire day through time recording entries will not only give you a headache, but it’s also a sure-fire way for plenty of chargeable time to be missed, which very quickly translates into pounds and pence. Done on a regular basis, it will upset your Head of Finance, but more importantly will affect your personal billing targets. Right, lecture over!
2. Mop Up: Does your case management system have the ability to alert you to gaps in time-recording?
A key purpose of any efficient case system is to simplify your working day. To say that you will successfully record every single item of work as it is undertaken is wholly unrealistic. A mop-up tool however to highlight any oversights in this regard acts as a helpful shield for those times when you are not on your “A” game when it comes to prompt time-recording. It’s worth looking into the configuration of your firm’s case management system to achieve this.
3. Budgets: This next tip is aimed specifically at departments that engage in any type of litigation where costs budgeting requirements apply, which is potentially the majority of departments, given that the procedural exceptions are narrow.
Ensure that your case management system allows you to record time by phase in the costs budget. And ensure that you actually do it! It baffles me that firms outsource their Precedent H work to external cost drafting firms. Think about the task for a moment. The Precedent H document includes two sets of figures – incurred costs (the science) and estimated future costs (the art). In relation to incurred costs, why pay an external cost draftsman to leaf through every page of your file (be that physical or electronic) to arrive at a sum for incurred costs, when your case management system automatically presents these figures in real-time and can produce the first two monetary columns within the Precedent H document?
Moving on to the estimated columns, those estimated future costs are calculated following the construction of a number of assumptions, yet the task is all too often farmed out to an external cost draftsman. In my view there is no person better placed to determine where your case is going than you. You are skilled in your area of expertise. You have the experience of historical cases. Let us not forget that there is 1% of the approved budget “in the pot” as a cap for drafting the Precedent H document should you ultimately be the successful party. On a modest £250k costs budget that is £2,500.00 in profit costs that you can retain in-house.
4. Automation: In every department there are documents that are prepared day in and day out and take the same time to prepare the majority of the time – an Acknowledgment of Service or a Notice of Change are examples. It makes total sense to take every opportunity to automatically populate those tasks with set units of time, which can of course be overridden by the user should the case in hand hold some novel feature that either increases or decreases the level of time taken.
Worry not, automation will not leave you redundant, your role will not be replaced by a Cyborg. The elimination of redundant steps by way of automation is key in maximising both efficiency and profit, allowing you to apply yourself to tasks most deserving of your skill and expertise.
On a rudimentary level, it is likely that the main objective of any firm incepting a case management system is to increase both efficiency and in turn, profit. In recording information accurately, your organisation will greatly benefit from tapping into the hidden insights that your inputted data produces. Knowledge is power and deriving intelligence that contributes to case and business success is the best return from investing in a technology system.
Find more about how you can make the most out of your Lexis Visualfiles case and matter management system by emailing me directly here or calling our sales information desk on firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions.