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Corporate Legal

14 tips to supercharge your legal operations

· 7 minute read

· 7 minute read

LDO experts weigh in on ways to make big improvements

All effective legal operations teams share a passion for wanting to improve, whether it’s finding new efficiencies, better workflows, or lower costs. Oftentimes, the best way to improve is by following the advice of those who have already “climbed the mountain.” These tips come from 11 advanced users of Thomson Reuters Legal Tracker™, the top-rated and most widely used matter management, e-billing, and analytics system for corporate legal departments.  

They’ve already climbed the mountain, but they probably wouldn’t say that they’re at the summit. In reality, optimizing legal operations is a continuous journey of improvement. However, these clients are on the cutting-edge of legal operations, and they’ve combined their wisdom to develop this 14-point list to help legal departments improve performance.  


Reporting and review

  1. Mandatory status reports

Don’t be left in the dark with your open matters. Require the firms you work with to provide status reports so you can stay on top of all your ongoing legal matters. Stay ahead of the curve by knowing the status of cases and their approximate hours and costs.  

  1. Scheduled reporting

Keep everyone in your legal department up to date with scheduled reporting. Set up automated reports to be sent out via email to whomever and on whatever schedule you’d like – ranging from daily to quarterly. Want to send out daily invoice reports to everyone in your legal department? Create an automated daily report. Utilize scheduled reporting and save yourself from the hassle of manually sending out reports.  

  1. Billing guideline reviewer 

After establishing your billing guidelines, use a billing guideline reviewer (BGR) to enforce your guidelines. Your BGR will be the preliminary invoice reviewer, performing initial invoice reviews before routing them to invoice approvers (usually your lawyers). This efficiency will save your lawyers time while ensuring that the invoices they approve comply with your legal department’s billing guidelines.  

  1. Timekeeper Rate Review 

Many legal departments do an effective job of negotiating rates, but they fall short when it comes to enforcing those negotiated rates during invoice review. The industry-leading Timekeeper Rate Review (TKRR) module in Tracker solves this problem. By using TKRR, you can easily review, adjust, and approve proposed billing rates from a law firm – all on one page. This feature allows you to negotiate and enforce your rates while also analyzing rates between timekeeper classifications (partner vs. associate). Once these rates are fully approved, Tracker applies the rates to invoices through automated audits to ensure compliance with negotiated rates. A Forrester Consulting study found that, for Legal Tracker users, average annual increases in timekeeper rates dropped from 12% to 5% with the use of detailed benchmarking and analytics. 

  1. Matter management

Say goodbye to clutter and paperwork and say hello to an easy way to manage matters. Matter management gives you instant access to every aspect of your matters: every document, deadline, update, email, invoice, and person involved. You can easily organize, prioritize, analyze, compare, and share all your data internally and with your outside firms. Use the Tracker matter management capabilities to avoid the mess of organizing your information. 

  1. Automated accrual collection 

Most companies require their legal departments to report accruals to finance on a regular basis. This exercise can take up to 40 hours of time sending emails to legal vendors, gathering unbilled amounts and aggregating them in one report, and sending the report to finance. All this information usually needs to be stored for audit purposes. Much of this work can be eliminated with the automated accrual functionality in Tracker.  


Foundational initiatives

  1. Billing guidelines 

Billing guidelines are an extremely efficient tool, but they don’t create themselves. Look to other legal departments to see what they’re doing with expense guidelines, timekeeper rates/rate increases, late invoices, etc. Once you create or update your guidelines, use Legal Tracker to enforce and ensure compliance with so that your invoices appear the way you want them.  

  1. Law firm convergence 

Do you have preferred firms or want to work with a lower total number of firms? If not, consider a preferred firm consolidation project. With a smaller number of firms, your company is likely to achieve better results like improved communication, deeper relationships with firms, and greater fee discounts. Use the benchmarking data in Legal Tracker to understand the timekeeper rates your firms charge relative to the average for your industry or geographical area from firms of a similar size.  

Legal Tracker

Control your outside counsel spend and better negotiate matters.


Product overview


Legal operations processes

  1. Train 

Having an internal process for using any e-billing and matter management software is a key factor in using it efficiently. While there are always external resources at your disposal, it’s beneficial to have an in-house help system in place. Create user guides and schedule regular training sessions to ensure your staff is properly entering and maintaining data. Train new staff as part of the onboarding process so people become familiar with your system starting on day one. 

  1. Pilot 

Testing out a new invoice approval process or implementing a new workflow? Do it. But do it efficiently on a small scale by piloting the project. If you want to try something new, don’t test it with all your firms at the same time. Reach out to one or two and experiment on a small scale. Similarly, if you’re implementing a self-service portal for business partners, choose one task or department to pilot with and then learn from the pilot. Always scale appropriately when implementing a new practice. 

  1. Monitor behavior 

The data available in your systems can provide deep business insights and tell powerful stories. Use available data to monitor your company’s behavior. Use internal metrics to view your performance and compare internal and external costs. Focus on reports that show how your company can save both time and money. Use visualization and reporting tools in Tracker to communicate with stakeholders and show your progress. 

  1. Analyze before acting 

If you see any alarming data, analyze it and identify the problem before you try to create a solution. Data might have been entered incorrectly or not in the most accurate way, such as not entering an appropriate task code. Always check with your stakeholders to verify a problem before you act to solve it.  

  1. Communicate 

A new technology can be versatile and have many capabilities, but it should never eliminate your legal department’s responsibility to effectively communicate. Don’t use software as an excuse not to communicate with your stakeholders on why things are the way they are. “The numbers speak for themselves” isn’t always the case, so make sure you’re supplementing data with clear communication about the status of your operations.  

14. Continued education  

One of the best things you can do is stay on the cutting edge of whatever technologies your legal department has deployed. The more you know about these systems, the more you can do with them. For the core technologies you use, invest in yourself by attending product sessions and paying attention to new updates and features. Check out online resources like tutorial videos which are usually offered through help sites. Stay up to date on your system.  


Download your copy of the 2023 Legal Department Operations Index for more insights on how your colleagues are approaching the Technology Conundrum. 




These proven practices can help to streamline your company’s legal operations and save you time and money, especially when paired with Legal Tracker. Our mission is to help your legal operations perform better, and no one can attest to the value that Tracker delivers more than our clients. These high-performing legal departments are Tracker experts, and they know how important the role of technology can be in helping implement and enforce these best practices. By utilizing these practices, you can deliver greater value to your organization and join leading legal operations teams.  

You can use Legal Tracker from Thomson Reuters to streamline your legal department operations and significantly improve your spend management and reporting.  

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