CounselLink allows users to review the performance of outside counsel and score categories such as “efficiency” or “compliance.”

CounselLink is a cloud-based enterprise legal management solution  that has been with LexisNexis for about 15 years now. Earlier iterations had focused predominantly on helping organizations save money via its in-house auditing capabilities. But times have changed.

This week CounselLink will introduce a bundle of new features geared towards helping  corporate legal departments take a more holistic approach to managing their work. Updates include everything from monitoring tasks in greater to detail to creating metric-driven overviews of outside legal providers, which should come in handy as legal departments strive to prove their worth inside of large-scale organizations.

What it is: The new additions to the menu launched this week focused on enabling organizations to better track, organize and audit the work being performed within their legal departments. The task tracking feature, for example, allows users to monitor the status of a project, send reminders, log progress and look towards what’s next. “You can really at a glance understand what’s happening and what’s next, where we are in the process,” said Aaron Pierce, general manager of CounselLink.

Also of note is the vendor score card, which allows legal departments to review the work of outside counsel, including aggregate billing hours and an overall score that ranges from 0-100. More detailed reviews —complete with star-rating— can be left towards the bottom of the screen. “I think what you’ll see is a really strong push in the industry today for corporations to take a lot more metric and data-based approach to how they manage and work with their outside counsel,” Pierce said.  

Under the hood: CounselLink is cloud-based, meaning that users can log in from anywhere with secure authentication. It was also designed to be mobile ready to work on laptops, phones or tablets.

The layout of the platform was also designed to somewhat customizable, so that a paralegal can structure the position of, say, the invoice pane according to their priorities, which might differ from those of someone working in legal operations.

Why it’s necessary: Lawyers are looking towards products that take a more holistic and comprehensive approach to servicing their needs. “Really the direction now… trying to minimize the number of different folks that you work with, consolidating your technology solutions around one solution. And so that’s really the focus for us as well,” Pierce said.

There are also cultural shifts within the corporate legal departments themselves to consider as organizations look to reduce operating costs. “Legal departments are a little bit unique. I think that you’re going to see a higher drive to efficiency and reduction of costs that you might not otherwise see as a result of having to be more of a cost center and less of a center for revenue and profitability,” Pierce said.

The Competition: Enterprise legal management solutions don’t constitute a very exclusive club. Companies such as Thomson Reuters, Onit and Wolters Kluwer also have horses in the race, but Pierce thinks that CounselLink’s ability to incorporate law firm invoices that arrive in the form of an email, a PDF or even on paper helps set it apart.

“Unique to other providers in our industry and really a key differentiator for us is that we capture 100 percent of the legal spending that your legal department might have with outside counsel,” Pierce said.