Overland Park, Kansas has a population of nearly 200,000. The largest suburb of Kansas City, the community ranks on the top ten list of Money magazine’s “Best Places to Live” in the United States.
Its municipal government, The City of Overland Park, employs more than 1,000 and provides a variety of services to residents, business owners, and visitors. The Legal Department supports all functions of the government, among them public works, law enforcement, economic development, and the fire department.
The civil division of the Legal Department comprises five lawyers and two administrators. The lawyers divide responsibilities for various functions. Deputy City Attorney Michael Koss, for example, is the liaison for IT, Human Resources, the City Clerk’s Office, and the City Manager’s Office. Another colleague handles the police department, fire department, and emergency management.
“There’s always a lot of work coming in from all of those different divisions,” Mr. Koss said. “We have a lot of different types of work coming into us.”
The City’s Legal Department previously tracked all of its matters manually – with paper lists and tick marks.
This approach was problematic for several reasons. By relying on paper lists and institutional memory, team members had no visibility into one another’s projects, and they lacked a failsafe for deadlines. It was challenging to track how much time was spent on specific tasks or areas.
Moreover, as a governmental entity, the City was responsible for a significant amount of reporting, including quarterly reports to the City Manager.
Reporting would take seven to eight days each quarter, said Tammy Fisher, legal support administrator. Ms. Fisher would have to collect the paper lists from each team member, then manually assemble the reports.
“Everything that our attorneys touch and requires any of their time is what we tried to capture,” said Tammy Fisher, legal support administrator. “It wasn’t working. We just ‘knew’ what we did.”
The City wanted a central repository where lawyers and administrators could track their work consistently, with visibility into projects across the Legal Department.
Additionally, given the Legal Department’s demanding reporting requirements, the team wanted a software solution that could simplify and automate its deliverables.
The Legal Department chose a modern matter management system and implemented the software throughout the civil division.
“Now everything that comes into this office should be tracked,” said Ms. Fisher. “In the beginning, not everybody was using it. But everybody is using it now because otherwise [for our performance measures] we would go to them and say, ‘What are you doing?’
The modern matter management system gave the City’s Legal Department insight and metrics into its workload. The lawyers and administrators used this knowledge to put in place a number of operational improvements.
For example, after quantifying exactly how much time was spent on contracts and agreements, the team looked for new efficiencies. It updated contract templates and created a contract self-help tool for other government departments, so drafts would require less time for lawyer review.
“Xakia helped us focus on what has been the biggest burden, then try to make some improvements to make it less of a burden,” said Mr. Koss.
The ability to automate quarterly reports has reduced that time investment for compiling performance metrics from over a week to just one day, said Ms. Fisher.
Moreover, fast access to data has improved the Legal Department’s ability to serve and communicate with its business clients.
For example, Mr. Koss meets with the IT Department once each week to review its contracts. Now at that meeting, he opens the modern matter management system; filters the list to view the IT matters; and performs a quick status check on each one.
“I’ll add the newest information for each, so I’m ready for the next week,” he said. “It helps me keep track of everything and make sure we’re making progress on each one of those agreements. And I do that for a number of my divisions.
“Sometimes they will have forgotten something that is outstanding. So they appreciate the fact that I’m the record keeper of everything that is outstanding, and making sure we’re not losing track of anything.”