Moving Into 2019 as a Data-Driven Legal Department – Part One
Using insights from 2018 to become a data-driven legal department in 2019
You may have noticed that more legal professionals are talking about quantitative reporting, data mining and becoming a data-driven legal department. These aren’t just buzzwords. They are ways to help you be more organized and efficient.
It’s no secret that attorneys and paralegals are often drowning in a sea of documents and data. There is tremendous value in this information, but you need a way to unlock it. This is where reporting and data mining come into play.
At Legal Files Software, our team has created a program that’s designed to do much more than just store your documents and emails. It’s a tool that can help unlock the valuable insights in your data, which allows you to improve the way that you and your coworkers practice law every day.
As the year comes to a close, we’re taking time to step back and reflect on 2018 and look forward to 2019. Over the course of this two-part series, we’ll cover five real-life ways that being a data-driven legal department or law office can help you make 2019 your best year yet.
Example One: Using data to help with staffing
At its core, data allows your legal department or law firm to look at data from the past to find trends and use that information to change the way that your team operates going forward. Just one example of this is using data to help with staffing and hiring. Many people think that being a data-driven legal department can lead to the elimination of certain positions, but this is not always the case. One university legal department found that it was just the opposite.
The attorneys, paralegals and staff in the legal department were feeling overworked. It seemed like they needed more staff to meet the increasing demands in their department. However, they didn’t have any solid proof of this. It just seemed like they needed more staff, judging by their full workloads and an Excel spreadsheet that couldn’t track detailed information about turnaround times and the difficulty of each legal issue.
Around this time, the legal department started using software from Legal Files. Within one year of using it, the department was able to clearly view a wealth of valuable data. They could see the types of issues that they handled, the workload and turnaround times of each employee, and who the legal department was serving with each request for legal services. By becoming a data-driven legal department, the employees were able to clearly see that they needed more team members, which allowed them to back up their request for more staff with data and metrics.
Thanks to their solid data and Legal Files, the legal department was able to get approval for their request for more staff. The team of legal professionals is now working much more efficiently and is no longer feeling buried by a growing tower of assignments.
Example Two: Using data to create heat maps and troubleshoot
Although attorneys often handle situations after legal issues have arisen, they also have the important job of helping with risk management to prevent legal problems from occurring in the first place. This is especially true for corporate legal departments. No matter what type of business it is, data can help its attorneys troubleshoot and avoid legal issues.
Several corporate legal departments have told the team at Legal Files how helpful the software has been in collecting and analyzing data related to liability and risk. With help from data mining and report generation, legal professionals can create heat maps to see the hot spots and trouble areas within a business. These reports provide information about whether incidents are increasing or decreasing, and show how risk management and prevention efforts are working. It’s an excellent tool to help attorneys get in front of issues.
For example, if a corporation has multiple franchises, it may want to examine the types of suits and complaints that are coming from franchisees and customers. If the data reveals that problems continually arise due to ambiguity in the terms of the franchise agreement, then the legal department can modify the agreement’s language to improve clarity. Being a data-driven legal department for a corporation can also help illuminate issues with specific locations. Perhaps, certain locations have a greater number of incidents or customer complaints than others. In this case, the legal department can recommend changes in training as a risk management measure.
An additional benefit of quantitative reporting is that it allows legal professionals to view data from multiple years and perform year-to-year comparisons. With this information, attorneys can see whether risk management efforts have resulted in positive changes. They can also see whether they need to recommend that the company make any additional changes to its employee training and education programs.
Examining even more pieces of the data puzzle
As you can see, utilizing quantitative reporting and data mining can produce huge benefits for a data-driven legal department in terms of staffing and risk management. Because the workloads in legal departments never seem to ease up and litigation is on the rise, getting an edge in these areas is invaluable for legal professionals. However, data and analytics can help with so many more areas that are critical to the modern practice of law.
In the second part of this series, we will explore three more ways you can benefit by becoming a data-driven law department in 2019. You’ll see how quantitative data can help with spend management, handling litigation, and assessing and improving departmental performance. Once you finish reading these posts, you may find that you and your legal department or law office want your professional New Year’s resolution to revolve around data.