Alyza Tarmohamed, LegalVIEW® BillAnalyzer Senior Director, has worked closely with legal and claims professionals, developing a deep understanding of the processes and challenges of legal bill review for different organizations. We spoke to Alyza about the current state and future trajectory of this critical area of legal operations.
What would you like corporate legal and insurance claims professionals to know about using AI tools in their operations?
AI is exciting technology with a lot of applications across many areas of business. But I know it can seem amorphous, and it can be difficult to understand how it can actually create value for a particular function, such as legal operations. At ELM Solutions, AI, together with our expert review team, helps us augment and enhance the work that our customers do today. It’s not about replacing people or dumbing down a workflow to conform to rules that a machine can understand. Rather, it’s about equipping people with tools to “supercharge” the work that legal operations and claims professionals already do. It helps them become that much more productive and devote more time to their most valuable work. This makes AI not just an interesting new technology – but incredibly relevant and powerful!
What forces or challenges are leading to change within the legal bill review space?
Five or 10 years ago, cost was the main focus in legal operations. That’s still important, but additional priorities, like compliance and strategic law firm discussions, have moved to the forefront. People want an end-to-end view of the legal department’s operations across geographies, across practice areas. They want to see that their activities to drive efficiency and compliance are successful. This need for visibility is the newer challenge people are focusing on now that the cost control basics are in place.
What does LegalVIEW BillAnalyzer bring to legal bill review that is new or innovative?
Legal bill review has been around for ages, but it’s often executed by lawyers or legal operations professionals, in addition to their day jobs. BillAnalyzer offers the focus of professional legal invoice reviewers who specialize in specific sectors, combined with powerful AI and machine learning that outstrips the accomplishments of traditional bill review. BillAnalyzer increases efficiency and effectiveness, identifying from two to five times the current level of savings and compliance. Rules engines in traditional spend management systems are beneficial but very black and white. Combining AI and people is most valuable in the shades of gray, yielding the benefits of both machine learning and human judgment.
Do you think the legal bill review process will look different in 10 years? And what is your vision for how enterprise legal management (ELM) providers can play a role in that future?
Bill review will continue to advance as the legal operations world becomes more adept at applying technology from other areas to the legal function. Solutions like ours will continue to evolve and provide more insights and recommendations beyond savings and guideline compliance. Those recommendations will become more embedded in the core process of legal operations. As experts on legal data, we can provide visibility, guidance, insights, and analytics that help legal and claims teams understand their options on panel development, law firm management, and more efficient and streamlined workflows. It’s about partnering with customers to solve big problems and help them refine their operations as they mature.
Is change management an impediment for some clients who might be interested in the savings associated with an AI-enabled service?
There is always some challenge in changing “how things have always been done” - there’s fear of rocking the boat. But in this case, the change management impact is not too significant because BillAnalyzer’s new activities occur by our teams, rather than changing how the client works. Law firms still submit bills the same way; they are adjusted within the spend management system and are paid the same way as always. There is added attention to the firm’s billing, but the workflow isn’t very different. On the client side, the internal processes remain pretty standard; the only difference is a new interim step of review and additional visibility on those activities. In our experience, the most significant adjustment is a shift in mindset about the client–law firm relationship.
There’s a misconception that using dedicated bill reviewers means losing the contextual knowledge of the lawyer involved with each matter. But our approach is entirely configurable, according to the customer’s preference. Adjusted bills can still go to the legal or claims professional as the last step in the approval process, allowing them to provide that final check based on their knowledge, without having to evaluate every individual line item. They are freed up to spend their time on higher value work. We’re making this part of their job easier, and the organization retains as much control as they want.
Because BillAnalyzer is a managed service offering, it also lets you customize as you go. We partner closely with our clients to make the bill review transition easier. You can start with small steps, such as a particular work area or practice group, adding others only after seeing the early results. We can also get stricter or more lenient over time with various billing guidelines as you get more comfortable. It’s all up to the client.
What is the best starting point for an organization that has some interest in learning about BillAnalyzer and how it might be helpful to them?
My advice is to first understand how bills are reviewed in your organization today and work with our team to begin discovery about where you can find more value. After an initial assessment, we can conduct a historical review of a few months of your billing data. We identify non-compliance and make illustrative adjustments as if you had been a live BillAnalyzer client. The results show you the actual savings and increased compliance that BillAnalyzer would have generated for your organization during that time period. This provides a clear picture of where billing guidelines are being violated, where opportunity for future compliance exists, and what areas you may want to investigate with outside counsel for improvement. This review can begin the journey of understanding the opportunities and next-generation approach to driving more value from your overall legal operations and claims litigation program.