Outside counsel guidelines have become increasingly complex, requiring companies to pay special attention to both details and trends in billing. Our editors sat down with Linda Hovanec and Matt Kivlin of Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions, to talk about building a strong spend management program and how artificial intelligence can help identify irregularities and errors in billing, and therefore increase efficiencies within legal spend management.

Legal spend management is a widely used term by both inside and outside counsel, and other players within the industry. Specifically, what does legal spend management encompass?

Matt Kivlin:   Legal spend management is about helping corporate legal departments better understand, manage and control their costs. At Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions, we think that really starts with efficiencies, providing an easy way to help corporate legal departments streamline the invoicing process from submission through review and ultimately through to payment processing. If you look at this space historically, it really started with an emphasis on e-billing, helping companies move away from paper invoicing with a particular emphasis on ensuring that outside counsel invoices are compliant with their particular billing guidelines. Now, wrapped around this process are key workflows, things that help you better support other spend activities such as managing rates and defining and tracking budgets.

One thing that we feel very strongly about is that efficiencies are just the beginning, and legal spend management is really a catalyst for something equally important – and that’s visibility. By having a system-driven approach, companies can get a deeper level of insight into their spend, and these are insights that can inform smarter decision-making, including more intelligent cost forecasting, more informed decisions about managing your panels and other aspects of your legal operations.