Friday, August 11, 2017

CounselLink Helps Long-Time Client, Publicly Traded Company Save $4.7MM, Endless Accruals Grief

The following Impact Awards submission was written by Dave Voelpel, Legal Operations Manager. Mr. Voelpel is one of three Impact Award winners for 2017. All three winning submissions are being featured in Business of Law blog posts from LexisNexis.


Oddly enough, I am not going to write about the $4.7 million cost savings we have realized from CounselLink, or the “Big Brother” effect which keeps firms in line with our billing guidelines.

I’m not going to elaborate about the incredible benchmarking available within CounselLink to help negotiate rates, or the fact that I have 100% of my outside counsel submitting invoices into CounselLink.

Instead, I want to share a process improvement that can only be done with the use of CounselLink.

For those who handle the financial responsibilities within the law department, I’m sure you’ll agree that accruals are a laborious task. My accounting department required monthly accruals. I fought back and said I didn’t have enough time or resources to submit monthly accruals, but I could submit quarterly accruals.

This, however, left a gap in reporting for the first two months of the quarter and a large spike in the third month of the quarter.

Our accruals include unapproved invoices in CounselLink and unbilled time through the end of the quarter, which requires feedback from the law firms. It took approximately three days and a team of paralegals, admins and myself to request, collect, consolidate, and submit the accruals. Even with this all-out effort, I was still late in submitting accruals more often than not. Not a good reflection on myself or the legal department.


Then along came the Accrual Module in CounselLink. I now handle the entire accrual process from request to submission on a monthly basis within a couple of hours.

The request goes out to over 50 law firms with a push of a button and includes over 300 matters. It has provided a more accurate monthly spend and reduced the spike at the end of each quarter. The accruals are all tracked within CounselLink for auditing purposes and submitted on time to accounting.

For those who are not familiar with the Accrual Module but are required to submit accruals, I highly recommend using this module. In addition to the improvement of the accrual process, it has helped to build partnerships with the billing teams from the law firms.

I found that since this partnership was formed, the overall billing experience has been very positive for both parties. A few lessons learned when beginning to use the Accrual Module:

  1. Send an email to the law firms, specifically, the CounselLink admins, with an explanation and instructions about the new process you are implementing.
  2. Make sure your law firms have someone with the Budget Contact role.
  3. If a matter is transferred to another firm to handle, make sure you remove the matter from the original firm.
  4. Don’t tell your boss how easy it is.

The Accrual Module has improved efficiency, accuracy, and communication for a more positive experience for all involved and those no longer involved (paralegals and admins).

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Abilene Detective Elise Ybarra Killed in Rear End Crash Sunday

Detective Elise Ybarra, 33, of Abilene TX, was killed Sunday when the vehicle she was in was rear ended by a pickup truck on Interstate 20. Detectives Ybarra, Chris Milliorn, and Robert Collins—all with the Abilene Police Department—were headed to Dallas to attend a Crimes Against Children Conference. Ybarra slowed the vehicle she was driving as it... Read More

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Everything I Need to Know About CRM, I Learned from The Bachelorette


Image Credit

If you’re reading this, you’re either an avid Bachelor watcher (#BachelorNation), use customer relationship management (CRM) software (preferably InterAction), or, even better, you’re an avid Bachelor watcher who uses InterAction (#InterActionforBachelorNation). That hashtag might be a little long, but either way, whatever category you may fall in, The Bachelor/Bachelorette has quite a bit in common with InterAction CRM.

If you’re not familiar with the Bachelor or Bachelorette, it is a reality television dating show that started in 2002. The series revolves around a single bachelor/bachelorette who starts with a pool of romantic interests.

Participants travel to all sorts of amazing locations to get to know each other better, go on dates, the whole nine yards. And, this is all done within a timespan of a little under nine weeks. Over the course of the season, the bachelor/bachelorette eliminates candidates, with the final selection leading to a proposal. I know, nine weeks is almost no time to meet Mr. or Mrs. Right, but it does make for excellent TV.

This, of course, is a very brief and generalized guideline, but if you are a member of #BachelorNation, the seasons and episodes can become quite the dramatic event.

With the quick rundown of the show, I’m sure by now you’re asking yourself how on earth can this possibly relate to InterAction?

I’m glad you asked…


Relationship Intelligence and Engagement Scoring

This show, of course, is all about the journey and developing relationships, whether it’s lifelong friends or your soulmate. This is just the same as InterAction, whether it’s long-term client relationships or future prospects.

In either case, it begins with picking the right contestants/potential clients. This season, and my personal favorite, has been all about Bachelorette Rachel and finding her the right partner. Not only do the producers provide Rachel with a group of potentially compatible prospects from which to pick her future husband, her group of romantic interests also form friendships within the group. After all, they do spend more time with each other than they do with Rachel.

Think of this as InterAction’s Relationship Intelligence tool. Everyone shares the information they have in exchange for the chance to benefit from others’ knowledge.

From there, Rachel obviously wants to develop the correct relationships with the contestant most appropriate for her. Our Bachelorette needs to make sure she is targeting the right relationships because her time is valuable and she’s ready to “seal the deal” as she would say.

Rachel wants to make sure that her efforts are focused on those individuals who she feels are her best prospects for becoming her future husband. And if they’re not, as the show’s host, Chris Harrison, would say… “Please say your goodbyes.” InterAction has a similar process. The Engagement Scoring tool assesses how well each contact is engaged with your firm (we can think of the firm as Rachel) and ensures that you are focusing on the right relationships or see what relationships you need to improve. With engagement scoring you’re building the relationship intelligence you need to generate more business, or in the case of the Bachelorette, to create your future life with your soulmate.

Dashboard Reporting

With so many eligible bachelors from which to choose, Rachel isn’t the only one focused on which individuals would be a good or bad fit for her… so is Chris Harrison. Because hello… TV ratings! Nothing can get #BachelorNation going like a good two on one date. Remember Kenny and Lee or Corinne and Taylor? Those were quite the dates.

There’s a lot of expectation from the viewers. When you have a handful of eligible bachelors, you’re going to need assistance from someone to guide you in the right direction. There’s a lot of information that Rachel needs to process before making such a big decision; whether it’s eliminating down to the very last bachelor or in general. No one ever wants the wrong person to go! Like Jason Mesnick, season four. What a nail biter!

Rachel wants to make sure from the very get-go she isn’t giving away her limited selection of roses to the wrong people. And of course, towards the end, she wants to be sure the right final three are meeting her family.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Rachel had a tool that she could use to input all of the information and advice she receives from her interactions during dates, other contestants, former bachelorettes, and more? And, what if all of that information was easily accessible to people like Chris and to her family to see how things are going and to provide advice? This is like InterAction’s Dashboard Reporting tool. You see what I did there?

Think of Rachel as a business development executive. Rachel reports and provides her insights to Chris, her friends, and her family – the executive committee. They may not know every little detail, but Rachel’s reporting and insights provide them, in this case Chris and her sister Constance (and that whole ordeal with her and Bryan was QUALITY TV), with enough information to help guide Rachel in her journey in finding love.

Similarly, dashboard reporting provides your firm with easy-to-understand analytics and reporting to help make the best strategic business development decisions that will help your firm win more business. Exactly how it helps Rachel pick out her future hubby!


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In the day and age of social media, it’s very easy to learn about (or socially stalk, whichever term you’d prefer) Rachel’s bachelors. Having our phones always handy can make it very easy to get lost in the world of the trending hashtag #TheBachelorette on Twitter or 57 weeks deep into a contestant’s ex-girlfriend’s former roommate’s Instagram. Hey, it happens! No judgment from me. Our phones make it easy for us to pick who we think is the best choice for Rachel based on their social platforms. We can easily see where they are, where they’ve been and sometimes, if we’re lucky, they forget to delete past posts and we get insight on their previous relationships. [Insert meme of laughing lizard here.]

Just like we have access to all the information and Instagram posts we could ever need to determine who is good for Rachel from anywhere (like the comfort of our couch on Monday nights while watching the Bachelorette), InterAction does too, but for your firm. Mobility gives you complete access to all the relationship details needed to keep you connected and informed, from anywhere. The new contact you just met at an event? InterAction can tell you if colleagues at the firm already know the individual. Think of this as Liz during Nick’s season. Hmm… I can think of a few contestants who would have been happy to have had the mobility tool then.


Pipeline Management

From the very beginning, Rachel or any bachelor/bachelorette, needs to properly manage all of the contestants. Getting to know them better, having multiple dates and interactions, selecting the right people for the hometown dates, assessing who she can and cannot have a realistic relationship with, and ultimately finding out who is and isn’t right for her. It’s a process! But it’s critical and quite dramatic.

Just like Rachel managing all of her dates, InterAction Pipeline Management helps firms optimize all of their pursuits from beginning to end. You’ll see which ones are going well (Peter!), which ones may need a bit more work (Eric), and which ones are no longer part of your current pipeline of opportunities (Bryan!!). These are, of course, just my opinions!

InterAction Business Edge provides an in-depth view of your firm’s entire opportunity pipeline that enables you to identify the right pursuits earlier and move them to closure faster.

After reading this, you’re either impressed by the amount of similarities between the two, have learned more about InterAction, and/or you’re extremely captivated by this and have found yourself a new show to watch as well as a new CRM software for your firm. In the end, it all comes down to the shiny Neil Lane diamond engagement ring or, in this case, winning that prestigious new client’s business.

With the final episode days away, tell us who your final pick is by tweeting to us at @LexisNexisLegal using the hashtag #InterActionforBachelorNation.

And, if you’re ready to see how InterAction can help you focus on the right relationships to win more business, visit


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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Vendor Management Goals and Metrics for Claims Legal Professionals

Matching Organizational Goals with the Right Metrics to Get You There

There’s an old Sufi tale in which a wise man comes upon an elderly man searching the ground under a street lamp. He inquires what he’s doing, hoping to help ease the man’s distress.

“I’m looking for my lost keys,” the older man replied.

After some time searching the ground without success, the wise man finally asks, “Are you sure this is the spot where you lost your keys?”


“Well, no,” the old man said, pointing to a spot further down the street. “I lost them over there, but I can’t see very well, and the light is better here.”

What does this famous old tale have to do with measuring the success of vendor management and metrics?

If you’ve ever been the person searching for the right data to measure the success of your vendors, chances are, you might have asked yourself at one time or another, “Am I looking in the right place? Are these really the metrics that will help shed light on the goals important to my organization?”

If the answer is no, it’s important to step back and remind yourself that you don’t have to use the metrics that are readily available to you.

Likewise, you shouldn’t rule out reaching for a particular goals just because you’re not sure how you’ll measure or report on it.

For example, it’s perfectly acceptable to measure satisfaction with an attorney’s performance on a scale from one to five. Once established, it can be collected and reported on, and if the metric becomes part of a scorecard, it can be weighted accordingly.

Claim legal professionals are always looking for ways to measure whether they’re doing a good job of understanding and controlling their outside legal costs. They want to know if they’re getting the best results from their defense firms, but they don’t always know how to tell the story about the journey and the results.

They face two challenges: First, it may not be immediately obvious what is most important to measure, and second, they may not have an easy way to collect the information. You should select a set of important goals and focus on the critical few, and this should be the first step.

These can be related to rates or outcomes, or they may be based on operations or compliance. You can also orient your goals toward relationships or communication.

Once you establish your goals, you need to pick a relevant metric, then figure out how to collect it.

It’s important to recognize that lawyers and other related providers – such as experts and court reporters – are vendors. They provide services to your policyholders for a fee, which you in turn pay. The best vendor relationships have clear guidelines and transparent measurements. The guidelines support the goals, typically to provide the best defense and results for the policyholder. As a carrier, your duty is to know which firm is best for the job.

For example, responsiveness and communication may the most important metrics If your goal is to be able to call a lawyer with a notice of suit just filed and have their firm leap into action with all guns blazing that same day.

For firms you’re hiring to handle fairly routine high-volume matters, hourly rate may be most important. In that case, the right metric may be average cost of case to resolution, or median time to resolution.

Whatever your first goal, your next goal is matching it with the appropriate metric.

Modern legal eBilling systems like CounselLink will help you capture all this information automatically. From there, you’ll need to make sure that the vendor’s professional services group can help guide you to the best processes for capture and reporting. Professional consultants – whether third party or as part of the vendor’s service team – should help you both articulate your goals and uncover the right metrics.

My colleague Kris Satkunas has written an excellent white paper about how to create a vendor managemetnt program for claims legal professionals. You can access her white paper here.

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Monday, July 31, 2017

CounselLink Impact Awards

“CounselLink is our light at the end of the tunnel”

The following Impact Awards submission was written by Sandy Sullivan, Senior Corporate Paralegal at National Vision. Ms. Sullivan is one of three Impact Award winners for 2017. All three winning submissions are being featured in Business of Law blog posts from LexisNexis.


National Vision is the 4th largest retail optical company in the world. By the end of my first year here as a paralegal in 2008, we had 560 retail locations and have grown today to 980 retail locations in 46 states.

With new stores come new associates, and today our company employs 10,000 associates.

When I started at National Vision, our small in-house legal department consisted of 2 attorneys, myself, and another paralegal. Today we have 5 attorneys, 2 senior paralegals, and 2 administrative assistants.

It may not seem like a lot of growth, but for a company that has increased so much in size, this is a much-needed growth spurt. When you have this size company in so many states, the laws are different and there is a lot of legal work in every aspect of the law (e.g., real estate, corporate, litigation, employment, compliance…).

Since it was impossible to handle every matter in-house, we engage many firms as our outside counsel depending on the matter.

With myself practically managing the department, I kept up with the legal billing. It was done the old fashioned way – by U.S Mail.

Sometimes an invoice would fall through the cracks, other times it may not have been paid in a timely fashion, sometimes (with being so busy), I would just forget.

I had to keep up with how much they spent, when it was paid, how much was accrued…….. and so on and so on. The task became daunting and inefficient in every way.

Then came along CounselLink, our light at the end of the tunnel.

I researched many different management systems and nothing compared with CounselLink. CounselLink was simplistic in the way it was so user friendly. They had me at “Hello” when making the decision to choose this system.

The way CounselLink flags discrepancies in hourly rates and billing procedures has helped keep our costs down with little effort.

We went live with CounselLink in 2015 and have been happy ever after. Our billing system is finally efficient and works like a charm.


That means our vendors are pleased because they submit an invoice through CounselLink, it gets approved, and it gets paid….. simple as that.

It has saved our company so much time and energy in knowing that anything we need to know regarding billing, legal spend, ratios, and savings is all at the touch of a key stroke with CounselLink.

Thank you CounselLink for making my job stress-free!!!

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