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Enterprise legal management (ELM) is a practice management strategy of corporate legal departments, insurance claims departments, and government legal and contract management departments.
ELM developed during the 1990s in response to increased corporate demands for accountability, transparency, and predictability, and employs software to manage internal legal documents and workflows, electronic billing and invoicing, and to guide decision-making through reporting and analytics.
Still an evolving term, ELM is a recognized management discipline and a strategic objective of general counsel. Some have argued that ELM falls within the broader category of corporate governance, risk, and compliance (GRC); others maintain that ELM and GRC are separate entities along a continuum.
Separate but related technologies include information governance, electronic discovery, legal hold, contract management, corporate secretary, and board of directors’ communications. ELM software may integrate some or all of these components.
Law practice management refers to the business aspect of operating a law firm or in-house legal team. Components include economics, workplace communication and management, ethics, and client service.
Historically, corporate legal spend was considered a “black box” with limited predictability and transparency, making it difficult for corporate legal teams to parse differences of efficiency and cost among outside firms, or to benchmark firm performance against previously hired counsel.
Several factors led to a shift away from traditional, low-technology solutions and toward ELM, most notably the expansion of the Internet during the 1990s and subsequent development of Software as a service (SaaS) platforms. Within legal departments, factors included greater regulatory compliance risk, smaller budgets, and board member demands for greater accountability, predictability, and transparency.
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