Barclays this January rolled out Mitratech’s TeamConnect matter management and eBilling platform to its 140 panel law firms, as the banking giant moves towards better KPIs, having rolled out timesheets for its own in-house lawyers just over a year ago.
Barclays began rolling out TeamConnect in August last year across firms that conduct its litigation work and that was extended in January to all types of work across all panel firms, with some firms now losing work thanks to being slow to adjust to the new system.
Now each time a Barclays lawyer instructs a panel firm they raise a purchase order linked to a matter in TeamConnect. The law firm receives that reference and law firm invoices are processed automatically through Mitratech’s eBilling module Collaborati.
Barclays worked with Consilio as its implementation partner to include all of its terms and conditions within the automated billing rules, including hourly rates, disbursements and when firms should bill – increasing the off the shelf billing rules from six to 135.
Stephanie Hamon, head of commercial management, managing director at Barclays, who has been charged with rationalising the bank’s external legal spend, said: “The off the shelf product could only give me six rules including the name and address of the vendor, which wasn’t enough. If we have an eBilling system, we want it to be fully automated system, we’re not going to create a review team internally and we didn’t accept market practice, we know what we want.”
Unless all terms are complied with, law firm invoices won’t be paid, with one invoice now having been rejected 47 times. However, Barclays, which traditionally may have taken weeks to pay advisers, has said that if the billing rules are complied with it will pay in seven days.
According to Hamon, Barclays went to great lengths to ensure last year that firms were aware of the changes, offering training and information. Hamon says: “We reminded firms that if they hadn’t submitted their invoices by 15 December they wouldn’t get paid. Some firms are still dragging their feet. There seems to be a big disconnect internally in the law firms and the right people are not always talking to each other. There’s a disconnect between the billing team, the eBilling team and the relationship team. It’s just about getting people in the law firms to speak to one another.”
She adds: “Some of the firms forget who the client is and are not willing to engage to achieve a reasonable compromise. After a while, it becomes painful and some of our lawyers are going to firms of equal quality but not so much hassle when it comes to billing.”
The matter management system is also being used to drive internal management information, after Barclays introduced time sheets for its lawyers in November 2015. Lawyers are required to account for their time in half hour chunks in order to help the bank accurately allocate cost. Hamon said: “The idea very much is to try and have the conversation with the business as to where and why we need the legal function and what the cost of that legal function is to you. Some lawyers work for more than one part of the business and we want to allocate the cost appropriately. If we want to manage our headcount and cost base, it helps to know exactly where people are based and what they are doing. Do we need a very senior person in London or three less senior people in Birmingham or Manchester? Or is there enough business to look at automation?
“If there is enough repeat business, it’s surely more cost effective not to send it out and better to have a conversation with the business and manage our legal risks. We need to know those are the costs and those are the levers that we can pull.”
Unlike lawyers in private practice, internal lawyers do not have targets to reach. Having focussed on encouraging the team to fill in their time sheets by explaining what the data is for and how it will be used, Barclays will now focus on using it for MI, with time linked and tagged in TeamConnect.
The changes come as Barclays looks to review its eDiscovery panel, which it has had for four years. In this its third review, it is expected that the emphasis for volume work will be on dedicated eDiscovery providers that can provide wider technology support as well as document review capability.
This story first appeared in the March Legal IT Insider. To sign up for the free monthly newsletter click here: http://www.legaltechnology.com//latest-newsletter/