Magazine article Information Today

LawQuest: Legal Project Management

Magazine article Information Today

LawQuest: Legal Project Management

Article excerpt

LawQuest, from Bridgeway Software, is a relatively new PC-based application specifically designed to track corporate legal projects. One of several available corporate legal project management applications, LawQuest provides users with some powerful, easy-to-use features that distinguish it in the marketplace.

As corporations strive to become more competitive, every aspect of the business is subject to increasingly intense scrutiny. Nowhere is this truer than in administrative functions like corporate legal departments.

While corporate law departments don't sell products or services that add to the bottom line, they can affect the company's profit or loss. Paradoxically, these same legal departments are often understaffed, with much of the company's legal work being outsourced. Consequently, more and more corporate legal departments are turning to automation to help them with management tasks.

Although there are several corporate law areas that are candidates for automation, none is more important than managing legal projects or matters. The heart and soul of the office of general counsel consists in keeping track of litigation, contract disputes, securities matters, and a variety of other corporate legal concerns. If these projects involve the use of outside counsel, managing the projects not only entails constant contact with the outside lawyers but also keeping track of the massive amounts of information that comprise the project. In most corporations the general counsel is responsible for this information because he or she is also responsible for keeping the management of the corporation informed of developments as each project moves forward.

LawQuest is Bridgeway Software's answer to managing the myriad information involved in specific legal projects or matters. Some of the kinds of questions LawQuest was designed to answer include: How many legal projects is the company currently managing? Can we generate a list of all of our active projects, along with a short description? Are we currently addressing any EEOC complaints? How many projects are being worked by our primary outside counsel? Are we facing any actions in which the potential liability exceeds $1 million? $5 million? Do we have any product liability actions involving company product X? What is the current status of project X? How much have we spent on project X?

The LawQuest Approach

LawQuest has a simple, elegant design. The application uses an intuitive approach to entering, editing, printing, and otherwise managing legal project information. For starters, LawQuest uses familiar pull-down menus and a toolbar to give users two different ways to begin many tasks. Additionally, the folders shown on the main screen in Figure 1 enable users to perform a number of other functions. They can activate the tasks depicted in the toolbar and described in the folders with a simple mouse click.

Figure 2 depicts the dialog box prompt to LawQuest's timekeeping module. After clicking once on the Start 1 clock on the far left side of the tool bar, LawQuest users can fill in the relevant timekeeping information for a specific project or legal matter.(Figure 2 omitted)

If the matter name or number does not readily come to mind, a click on the right mouse button will automatically summon a table containing a list of the matters to which time can be billed. Locate the appropriate matter, click on the item, and the appropriate billing information is automatically entered into the timesheet.

In the same way, phase, task, and business unit to be charged can also be entered. In each case, once the user has entered the desired field, clicking on the right mouse button will summon a list of the selections that can be entered. …

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