Ulmer & Berne Expedites Client and Matter Intake Process Using Automated Workflow Technology

legal software

Ulmer & Berne Expedites Client and Matter Intake Process Using Automated Workflow Technology


Ulmer & Berne is one of the Midwest’s most influential law firms, with 176 attorneys practicing in Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Columbus. In late 2008, they engaged Aderant to automate the firm’s client and matter intake processes. Historically, the procedure for accepting new clients and matters was an entirely manual, paper-based process, which consisted of assembly of documents, signatures, approvals, and conflict check clearances with multiple steps, flowing through many individuals and departments. This would take weeks to complete, delaying the firm’s ability to produce billable hours for its clients. In addition, this slow method also lacked a tracking mechanism to determine where in the process a particular file opening was, leaving employees to hunt for the status of a file.


Ulmer & Berne decided to automate its client and matter intake processes using Aderant Expert File Opening, a next-generation application that utilizes Microsoft Windows Workflow Foundation technology to help firms improve efficiency, streamline approvals, and reduce errors associated with manual data entry throughout the client and matter opening process. It enables firms to capture information that would have been impossible using paper-based systems, and provides unrivaled visibility into the status of all workflow activities and the overall progress by creating mandatory information fields and providing file status tracking. The auditing and tracking of information can be used to generate reports, which enables the firm to analyze the performance of all processes and activities. Based on firm evaluations, processes can now be easily reviewed and redesigned to maximize efficiency gains. The solution also offers a shared platform for all stages of the file opening process so that approvals and research can be done in parallel. The simultaneous approval and document sharing capabilities greatly improved automation, making it possible to qualify and accept clients and matters in a fraction of the time.

Business Impact

Since implementing Expert File Opening, Ulmer & Berne has seen both immediate and lasting results. The average time to open a new file has dropped from four days to less than 24 hours. By automating the file intake process, most stages of approval and research are completed simultaneously resulting in improved workflow and allowing the firm to examine its existing file intake process. The solution has also given Ulmer & Berne more accurate data as the application’s notes/document sharing capabilities has reduced the number of times an individual piece of information must be recorded to one. The search controls available within Expert File Opening’s workflow task forms significantly also reduce the user’s ability to enter erroneous data.

The firm, in addition, has reported a marked increase in the enforcement of accounting standards and policies since implementing Expert File Opening. Plus, there has been significant reduction in the amount of paper used during the file intake process, lowering the firm’s office supply costs and providing an eco-friendly alternative to traditional file opening methods.

In Their Words

“The immediate result of implementing Expert File Opening was that our average file opening time went from four days to less than 24 hours. We have also seen improvement in our data accuracy, our policy adherence, and our procedural efficiency. Expert File Opening has enabled Ulmer & Berne to provide world class legal counsel for our clients on an even timelier basis.

— Sam Shipley, Chief Information Officer, Ulmer & Berne

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