From intellectual property rights and patents to workplace complaints and contract disputes, lawsuits can derail even the most promising entrepreneurial endeavor or the most established corporation. It’s simply the nature of the beast in the 21st century. In fact, according to one source, more than 100 million cases are filed against businesses in U.S. courts every year. Sixty percent of those are related to contract disputes, while tort cases — including employment discrimination and wrongful death suits — make up another 11 percent of the overall cases.
But the threat of being sued or getting caught up in a legal tangle shouldn’t dissuade businesses from executing on their strategy or mission. Instead, a measured, strategic approach, as well as partnering with outside legal counsel, can keep solid businesses on the right path. That prospect might sound expensive and complicated, especially for a small startup, but it doesn’t need to be.
Putting the power of technology to work, tech firms are increasingly coming up with ways to streamline the collaborative process between clients and outside counsel. They’re also devising ways to help businesses — including law firms themselves — to manage their costs and maximize relationships for the good of both parties.
Monitoring costs, and also maintaining a collaborative, cooperative relationship with outside counsel ensures that a business is not only spending wisely, but also that the attorney and client are working together to reach the most positive outcome. It can be difficult, however, for a client to keep proper tabs on outside counsel if the right systems aren’t in place.
This is where technology is coming into play more and more.
E-billing software helps streamline payments and monitor compliance, but other technology is taking it a step further in many different ways. Portland, Oregon startup Three Matts Inc. devised an app called Tali that works with Amazon Voice Technology to help attorneys and other professionals accurately track their billable hours. The app tracks billable time based off what a user tells it, then follows up with daily, weekly and monthly emailed summaries. The idea is that vocally tracking hours is much more seamless and doesn’t interrupt workflow.
Another company, Ireland-based BrightFlag, offers a technology platform that legal departments can use to streamline everything from billing and invoice review to pricing analytics. It’s designed to help businesses not only drive savings, but also improve efficiencies and reporting abilities.
Such advances are making it easier for businesses to keep their legal costs in check — and their relationships with their outside counsel in good standing. Both are likely to be crucial, as all signs seem to suggest that business litigation and legal costs won’t be dying down anytime soon.