Legal task management and how it benefits legal ops

Kara Wen | June 22, 2023 | Articles

Legal ops teams face numerous challenges in matter management, including handling vast amounts of data, managing documents, tracking deadline changes, and staying updated on progress status. The complexities involved often lead to important details slipping through the cracks, causing stress for everyone involved.

However, there is a solution. By leveraging legal technology with robust task management capabilities, in-house legal teams can not only stay organized but also protect their reputations, achieve more, and enhance overall efficiency. We’ll delve into the specific ways in which effective legal task management benefits legal ops teams, providing insights and strategies for optimizing this crucial aspect of their operations.

What is legal task management?

For in-house legal teams, task management is the process of breaking down a matter into actionable tasks — similar to a to-do list. Task management involves tracking deadlines, changes in a matter lead, and more.

Those tasks are then monitored throughout the matter lifecycle with the goal of completing them by their respective deadlines.

Achieving that goal isn’t always simple, however. Legal ops teams are busy. Attorneys have never-ending to-do lists — depositions, hearings, meetings, paperwork, and other correspondence.

Matters involve numerous people across teams, and tracking individual tasks is often confusing. Centralizing these tasks, then prioritizing and assigning them to the appropriate team member based on expertise, strengths, or current caseload, ensures matters progress without any details being missed.

Task management vs. legal project management vs. event management

Task management is often confused with other concepts, like legal project management and event management, but there are clear differences. For one thing, it’s more than just a checklist.

Legal project management involves aspects of matter management like planning and risk management. Project management is the full scope of a project and the involved teams and stakeholders, while task management covers the individual items needed to complete the project. Think of it like this — building a house is the project, and installing the windows is one of the tasks involved in the project.

Task management also isn’t the same as event management. Event management deals with activities that have a start time, an end time, a location, and invitees like a court hearing or an expert interview. Once the event is passed, it’s assumed that it is completed.

Task management, however, is used more for items that need to happen by a certain date or time — for example, ensuring that deadlines are met, documents are delivered, or stakeholders are notified. In task management, the task needs to be manually “checked off” or marked as completed so the relevant parties can see a task’s status.

4 benefits of legal task management technology + use cases

Between struggling to determine which tasks take precedence over others and how tasks are managed, legal teams are facing some uphill battles. Legal task management software can help make matters manageable.

Respondents of Bloomberg Law’s 2022 Legal Ops + Tech survey said the top area where they want “new or improved legal tech” is matter management and, with it, task management. Matter management software with a task management solution enables teams to prioritize work and be better organized and more collaborative.

1. Better task prioritization

In-house legal teams often face overflowing tasks, and all of them feel important — because they are. But it’s not always clear which task needs to be completed first. Failing to prioritize time-sensitive tasks can lead to missed deadlines, unwanted outcomes, and other consequences to the business, like lawsuits.

Legal technology that supports task management can help the entire legal team stay organized. You can pick the task category, determine task priority, and track its timeline and status. So anytime a new matter or task is added, you know where it stands in the lineup.

A secure calendar integration lays out your schedule, so you can track tasks throughout their lifecycle with automated email notifications that keep tasks on track and team productivity levels high. And with a task management solution like SimpleLegal’s matter management, you can manage tasks with multiple view types to help you stay better focused.

Effectively prioritizing tasks results in the ability to meet matter deadlines with ease. Your team can track important to-do’s while making sure they’re completed on time.

You won’t find yourself surprised or unprepared on the date of a filing deadline because it’s been on your radar the whole time. Not only does this improve your reputation and make your team more efficient, but it also means less stress from unmet tasks and fewer disappointed stakeholders.

2. High-level visibility and reliability

Whether your team relies on paper forms or a legacy tech solution that doesn’t integrate with your legal tech stack, there’s a better way to manage tasks.

Even if your team swears by their system of emails or spreadsheets or other disparate systems, your data is likely siloed because those tools can’t talk to one another.

Legal matter management software with task management functionality optimizes workflows and prioritizes workflow automation because it’s fully integrated. Your team can manage every detail of each matter in one centralized system and gain deeper insights into what makes your legal department productive — including how they’re achieving success.

A solution like SimpleLegal provides a dashboard that lets you see all of the tasks involved with a matter. Tasks are organized by due date so you can quickly identify the next task to be done. Plus, SimpleLegal integrates with our spend management and e-Billing solutions and works with all existing matters — not just new ones.

3. Streamlined communication and collaboration

Task management software helps corporate legal teams streamline communication by providing a central location for team members to collaborate on projects, share updates, and more.

This reduces back-and-forth between team members and keeps everyone on the same page. The entire team has real-time insight into who’s involved in a matter and how, as well as what tasks need to be done for internal matters and those assigned to law firms.

Task management software lets you assign tasks to both internal and external users so everybody is on the same page. Your stakeholders are kept in the loop with visibility into the tasks assigned to them. They receive automated task reminders and have the ability to mark tasks as completed so everyone knows the status of a matter at any given time.

Say a team member is unavailable because they’re on vacation. In many environments, this means work comes to a standstill or deadlines are forgotten. But with legal task management software, work continues because the team has a clear view of what still needs to be completed and can provide appropriate coverage. You can wish your teammate “bon voyage” — and mean it.

4. Improved efficiency

Matter management software with task management capabilities streamlines routine tasks like adding and tracking due dates, assignments, and attachments—improving time management and allowing your team to use their skills where it matters most. Additionally, custom templates save time spent creating and filling out legal documents.

Software for task management also provides insights that lead to better decision-making. This is especially useful when it comes to evaluating success. SimpleLegal provides a comprehensive overview of a matter’s tasks, including success status and cycle times from assignment to completion. Insight into performance leverages historical data and gives you the ability to hit your budget targets and inform any necessary resource reallocation.

A solution like SimpleLegal lets you share progress reports with relevant stakeholders to keep them informed throughout the matter lifecycle, which builds accountability and motivation to strengthen cross-functional relationships. The reports also help you manage processes across your entire department because you have a bird’s-eye view of what’s working and what isn’t.

Move beyond a to-do list with SimpleLegal

SimpleLegal is rolling out its task management capabilities to help you and your team to fully manage tasks and collaborate smarter with everything related to matters in one centralized location.

With SimpleLegal’s task management functionality, you’ll know what everyone is working on, how long specific tasks take, who’s expected to deliver (and when), and more. Most importantly, the risk of important items slipping through the cracks is reduced.

Try a free demo today to help your team stay focused and improve efficiency

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