3 ways to make data a valuable lever for in-house legal

Lauren Lee | November 15, 2017 | Articles

In a session discussing the hidden potential of data at last month’s ACC Annual Meeting, we learned that only 39% of legal departments say they collect and analyze data – only 6.6% of those departments expect great results.

Legal departments see that data can be a valuable lever in managing legal spend, yet many are unsure of how to leverage data in a way that will uncover potential cost savings. The session’s speakers, Kristen Cook, Senior Counsel of 7-Eleven, Kim Craig, Managing Director of Lean Solutions at Seyfarth Shaw LLP, and Liz Lugones, Director of Legal Operations at Becton Dickinson shared 3 fundamental tips for how to make data a valuable lever for in-house legal.

Preach the Importance of Data

If the person responsible for entering data doesn’t understand how the data is used in downstream reporting, they may not take as much precaution as they should. When you rely on manual processes, getting accurate monthly and quarterly reports around legal spend and other KPIs becomes extremely difficult. For legal teams, this can result in wasted time and resources, ultimately leading to employee frustration.

By teaching your legal department as well as your organization about the importance of legal data, you can build a strong foundation for understanding outside counsel spend. The “why” matters.

Ensure Accurate Data with e-Billing

Building off the above point, the speakers stressed the importance of data “hygiene”. Without accurate data, it’s impossible to identify which programs, projects, and law firms are providing the best ROI.

This is where a legal operations platform can help. There’s a perception that e-Billing and spend management tools are only used to manage invoices, but platforms like SimpleLegal provide these functionalities while also helping to manage reporting, vendors, knowledge, and more. When evaluating potential legal software, look for a modern solution that has a native reporting engine. This helps ensure your legal department has reliable data to make informed decisions around budget, headcount, and overall legal spend. If you have other tools in your legal tech stack that contain data important to your legal matter and spend reports, make sure the solution is able to connect with those tools. This will eliminate painful custom integrations and laborious manual data entry.

Use Data to Tell Legal’s Story

The speakers shared that data shouldn’t be viewed as the end goal, but as a way to translate what you’re doing to the business. When you have data, you have more insight into legal spend. You’re empowered to make more strategic decisions and can better predict future costs.

If your organization doesn’t have e-Billing or an effective and reliable solution for collecting legal spend data, it can be difficult to understand how data can be used to measure the effectiveness of your department and partnerships with outside counsel. Learn more by scheduling a demo with SimpleLegal, and see how a legal operations platform and reliable analytics can benefit your legal department.

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