A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Become a Data-Driven Legal Department in 2023

In today’s competitive environment, many legal teams are looking to utilize their data in new ways, become more informed and increase efficiency across their operations. The quest to become a “data-driven” organization is easier than you might think thanks to valuable advancements in technology. 

Legal case management software is the tool that allows you to combine all your critical data—documents, emails, matters and cases—within a single location for easy access and reporting. Once you have the right technology in place and a plan for how to use your data, you are one step closer to making your data work for you. 

With easy access to your data, you can gain valuable insights through reporting and analysis while discovering new patterns or trends and identifying bottlenecks that have been holding you back for far too long. Are you ready to see what a data-driven department might look like for your organization?

The Importance of Becoming a Data-Driven Legal Department 

A data-driven legal department seeks to gain an understanding of where data supports—or opposes—the organization’s strategic initiatives and operations. This new understanding of data can lead to valuable insights, confirm assumptions or dispel preconceived beliefs. 

One of the many benefits of becoming a data-driven department is uncovering problems that you may not even realize are there, such as in the legal request intake process or operations. By gaining this knowledge, you will be able to see a clearer picture of how your organization is actually performing so you can make necessary changes or continue as you always have.

In the past, many legal departments have been slow to adopt data-driven approaches because of the complex nature of the profession and the frenetic pace at which many professionals work. Now, legal case management software has simplified the process, making it easier to use internal and external data to help make and support your decisions. 

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make Your Data Work for You 

Now that you know some of the benefits to better understanding your data, here are a few steps you can take today on your quest to becoming a data-driven legal department: 

1. Identify your legal department’s goals.

It is important to understand your goals and what you want to accomplish before determining the data to collect and analyze. For some organizations, cost control is important and for others it may be increasing productivity. No matter what your goals are, it’s important to get everyone on the same page before you dig into the data to collect. 

One easy way to do this is to brainstorm the challenges your organization faces in achieving current goals. A few goals you may choose to set include:

  • Reduce costs
  • Improve quality of work
  • Increase efficiency among outside counsel
  • Optimize in-house team growth

Additionally, here are some good questions to ask as you brainstorm goals:

  1. Where did our team struggle the previous year?
  2. Are there any concerns for the coming year?
  3. What is and isn’t working? (Overall business issues, changes needed or problems identified)
  4. What changes are occurring in the legal, regulatory or business field that might impact us?

By answering these questions, you are one step closer to uniting your team in its efforts to be more effective and productive. 

2. Determine the data you want to analyze to help accomplish your goals. 

No legal professional wants to waste time analyzing data that doesn’t pertain to helping achieve specific goals. It’s important to isolate the data that will help you achieve your goals so you aren’t chasing unrealistic metrics. If you want to reduce costs, you will need to focus on cost-related metrics such as:

  • Monthly spend by matter type and business unit
  • Outside counsel spend
  • Timekeeper rate comparison
  • Outside and inside spending as a percentage of company revenue 
  • Year-over-year legal spend

Once you have the dataset, it’s smart to break down your goal into tangible steps on how you plan to achieve it. 

3. Use a data analytics dashboard to visualize data.

Gone are the days of combing through data on Excel spreadsheets. The vast advances in legal technology now afford you the opportunity to view data through visual analytics dashboards. Legal case management software has built-in reporting dashboards that enable your data to tell a story and give you a real-time view of data and important metrics that are essential to appropriate decision-making and goal-accomplishing. A few of the dashboard features you can take advantage by combining all your data in a single legal platform are:

  • Visual charts in a variety of formats including bar, pie and graph
  • Real-time visibility into workload and competing priorities of the department
  • Visualize and track success of cases, matters and projects
  • Real-time reports to review with management/important stakeholders
  • Identify and easily fix efficiency gaps through workload reporting tools. 

4. Analyze your data and workflows to gain valuable insights. 

With all your data in a single location and easy-to-view dashboards, you are ready for the next important step: data analysis. This step will give you the valuable insight you need to make decisions that impact the business. 

Since the analysis is based on the goals, which can vary, here are a few general tips that can help you as you are getting started:

  • Determine the time period you want insights on and segment the data appropriately 
  • Watch for trends or abnormalities in the data 
  • Compare similar key performance indicators for vendors or matters

Legal Case Software Helps You Easily Use Your Data to Work Smarter

Smart legal departments understand the evolving legal landscape and the importance of technology in this evolution. With a legal matter management system from Legal Files, you can ensure you have the right tools in place to help you collect, store and analyze all your critical data to make decisions that will impact your department both now and in the future. 

With Legal Files Software, you can turn data into a competitive advantage through a single platform for all your cases and files, real-time access and visibility and the expert analytics tools that you need to make your data work for you. 

Legal Files offers 30+ years of experience supporting organizations across a number of industries. Legal Files gives professionals the legal analytics features, data analysis and workflow capabilities needed to focus on the bigger picture of increasing client satisfaction, team productivity and overall effectiveness. 

“The explosion of information from recent technological developments has created the opportunity for legal to harness available data and use analytics to inform decision making. Legal departments that are more analytically mature exhibit higher work quality, reduced litigation costs and lower spending.”

Chris Audet, Research Director


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