Updated: Two top 100 firms share insights into using BigHand for better budget management

Two BigHand clients; Am Law 100 Foley & Lardner and UK Top 100 Pennington Manches, have shared insights into the impact of expanding the use the BigHand matter pricing and budgeting product to better support their business throughout the global pandemic.

Penningtons was an early adopter of BigHand’s pricing technology, but Clare Arthurs, associate director at Penningtons Manches Cooper, says: “The scope of the project has grown significantly since the beginning of our partnership with BigHand. To limit budget overspend, our commercial dispute resolution and costs teams are now using the Precedent H budgeting functionality to create and track all court-approved budgets against time recorded.”

Legal PAs at the firm work with the lawyers in the commercial dispute resolution team to set an initial budget when a new matter is opened. Arthurs says: “The matter pricing technology helps with the whole legal budgeting process, as we can firstly play with the cost parameters to see the impact of different resources and rate structures, and once approved, track the actuals against the budget by phase, and receive notifications when we reach an agreed percentage of each budgeted phase.”

Penningtons feedback led to BigHand incorporating the ability to visualise spend across all sub-matters in a group action. The firm is set to implement the technology across the other litigious practice groups, with the family team already starting to utilise their own bespoke matter budget templates, and the personal injury and clinical negligence teams up next.

At Foley, meanwhile, we’re told that BigHand’s matter budgeting, pricing and tracking solution is being used alongside BigHand’s legal BI solution, which replaced Foley’s previous in-house system.

Jon Lindrus, manager of pricing & analysis at Foley comments, “We aim to challenge the traditional law firm standards of opaque pricing, and give our clients transparency over matter budgets. Law firms often talk about offering more transparency and value-based pricing, but rarely have the technology in place to make it a reality.

“The majority of our partners’ work requires a budget and so having visibility of legal spend is imperative. For us, the technology is about providing the partners with an effective way to track and manage their matter budgets and make more informed decisions as a result. It’s clear, for example, when to use different resources on a matter, or when to notify the client of budget spend.”

Users can see the overall financial performance of a matter but can also drill down into the timekeeper records to see which resources have been utilized.

BigHand’s legal budgeting and pricing tool can also be linked to the firm’s client portal. “The fact that our clients can log in and see an automated, up-to-date view of their matter budget also helps to keep the lawyers accountable for spend and encourages a more commercial understanding of how to manage a matter,” Lindrus said.

Briana McCrory, BigHand’s global marketing director, commented: “Legal clients are requesting more transparency and up-front communication on pricing than ever before. It’s no longer acceptable for lawyers to send an ‘over-run’ bill at the end of a matter and therefore firms not effectively managing budgets and pricing are seeing a big increase in write-offs as well as unhappy customers. Both Penningtons and Foley are leading the way to remove those challenges by offering increased visibility and progress against budget throughout the matter lifecycle.”