Choosing the best software for outside counsel guidelines management

How to protect client relationships, avoid vendor/client conflicts, and reduce your firm’s risk of write-offs

Without careful management, outside counsel guidelines (OCGs) can pose significant risk to your firm. For example, they can lead to financial repercussions: Law firms lose as much as 20% of their fees to write-offs that result from onerous OCGs. You can also damage your relationship with your client by failing to comply with guidelines relating to marketing or indemnification. Another risk is that your vendor terms can conflict with your OCGs.

The traditional method for managing OCGs involves building an extensive spreadsheet containing each of your client’s guidelines, then manually checking your bills and other firm decisions against the spreadsheet. But not only is this process labor-intensive and inefficient, it introduces a significant risk of human error. Those errors can, in turn, increase your firm’s risk of significant write-offs or noncompliance.

Law firms can reduce these risks by using the right software to manage and enforce OCGs across all work and teams. The only solution that addresses the full range of types of OCGs — and checks for conflicts between vendor terms and OCGs — is Intapp Terms.

Centralization and AI-powered analysis of OCGs and vendor terms

Intapp Terms provides a central hub for all your client commitment documents, including outside counsel guidelines and vendor contracts. Users can easily upload digital documents, as well as emails, directly into the system. The optical character recognition capabilities of Intapp Terms also enable the software to convert scanned documents into machine-readable text.

Once a document is uploaded into the program, Intapp Terms applies AI to automatically capture and categorize billing and finance terms, risk terms, information management terms, and security requirements.

This comprehensive approach makes Intapp Terms a truly centralized repository for all types of terms — going well beyond the limited subset, such as time and billing, offered by some other providers.

Used by leading firms worldwide, the AI used in Intapp Terms is mature and “trained” on real-world data. When a law firm implements Intapp Terms, the AI model leverages that training data, as well as data generated by categorizing the firm’s client and matter documents — helping customers get value from day one.

The AI in Intapp Terms also powers analysis of vendor contracts, automatically categorizing contract terms for fast, efficient organization and management. Intapp Terms then promptly identifies any existing conflicts between client obligations and vendor terms.

For example, your client may require all your systems to be compliant with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), but a potential vendor complies with only some of the GDPR’s provisions. Intapp Terms’ highly intuitive UI highlights conflicts like these so you can catch and resolve potential discrepancies through negotiations earlier in the onboarding process.

The ability of Intapp Terms to analyze vendor terms has proved especially helpful to Bradley, a law firm with offices across the South. “Intapp Terms and its central repository of all terms has helped us wrap our arms around a process that had been somewhat disconnected and hard to track in the past,” says Terry Sexton, Bradley’s Director of Risk Management and Client Intake Services. “Rather than trying to tackle some of these vendor terms issues ad hoc or through email as we have before, we now have a centralized, efficient system in place.”

Firmwide terms enforcement

Perhaps the most compelling value proposition of Intapp Terms is its ability to enable compliance with categorized terms gathered from documents. Intapp Terms publishes all relevant client and matter terms to connected applications — including Intapp Intake, Intapp Conflicts, and Intapp Time — as well as any third-party applications within the firm’s integration landscape.

These integrations ensure that waiver requirements and competitor clauses are surfaced within Intapp Conflicts before the firm takes on new business. In a similar manner, Intapp Time billing entries can be validated against a client’s billing terms at the point of time entry to minimize errors and to maximize realization. With Intapp Terms’s active enforcement, if a bill your firm has generated is inconsistent with a billing term, an alert automatically pops up on your screen — notifying you of the issue so you can address it proactively.

Intapp Terms also enables passive enforcement, allowing your users to see binding terms side by side with the documents they pertain to, so users can ensure that client guidelines were followed. With this end-to-end enforcement of terms, firms can more easily honor all client commitments, thereby strengthening the client relationship.

What distinguishes Intapp Terms from its competitors is its ability to enforce a wide range of terms — including time and billing terms, risk terms, marketing terms, vendor terms, and security terms. These terms can be integrated seamlessly into relevant applications, either through native integration or by utilizing the product’s highly versatile APIs.

Streamlined terms review

Having an efficient, easy workflow for reviewing terms is critical for every law firm, in part because the review process often involves multiple team members. In fact, the Intapp Risk Staffing Survey found that, for more than half of respondents, the risk review process involves the general counsel, conflicts and risk lawyers, and IT and finance professionals.

To streamline this review process, Intapp Terms includes a review workflow that sends uploaded documents and related terms to appropriate team members and subject matter experts for review, negotiation, and approval. Once review is complete, the documents and terms can be enforced in Intapp Terms and other connected applications.

In addition, firms can leverage notifications to ensure that the subject matter experts review terms and remain informed throughout the process. For teams that are not directly involved in the review process but still need to stay informed about incoming terms, your firm can use highly adaptable summary notifications of new incoming terms.

To try Intapp Terms and see how it can help your firm manage client and vendor terms for improved realization, client satisfaction, and time savings, please schedule a demo with our team.