Most legal services organizations have not reached the stage of using data analytics to their fullest extent. Indeed, the current reality is that in-house departments make minimal use of data and metrics, struggle to access or identify the right data, and lack either the culture, tools, or both to make consistent use of analytics, according to the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC).
CLOC further identifies 12 core functions that departments’ legal operation teams should develop. In a new continuing series, I will break down each of these core functions and explain their importance and why they are such valuable tools for successful legal ops teams.
Core Function: Business Intelligence
By developing a business intelligence competency, legal teams can reach a desired state of strategically using data rather than heuristics, uncover hidden trends, find new efficiencies, and focus the legal team on clear and measurable outcomes that make difference to the business.
However, to align to business principles, allocate resources appropriately, and to develop internal talent, it is first imperative for the team to know the why, what, who and when aspects of the work. Once this knowledge is acquired, a legal team can continuously improve how it performs the work. Fortunately, this data is accessible through dashboards and basic data analysis in all major enterprise legal management platforms.
The data from these systems will assist the team in determining when the department is:
- focusing its energy on high complexity/high strategic impact work (g., major acquisitions or divestitures, impact business litigation, complex revenue generating contracts, major projects, and investigations);
- appropriately providing internal resources to low complexity/high strategic impact work (g., term sheets, letters of intent, key procurement contracts, and major refinancings);
- effectively managing external resources for high complexity/low strategic impact work (g., compliance, routine litigation, non-strategic IP management, and taxation); and
- offloading low complexity/low strategic impact work (g., standard low-value contracts and disputes, marketing approvals, and administrative work).
Measuring this data and reviewing it regularly will lead to continuous improvement in how the key people within the legal department solve the most important problems for the business.
Leverage data from existing core tools
E-billing and contract management systems have widespread use within legal departments; however, data is rarely mined from these systems to take actionable steps that improve the legal function and better serve the business. Basic off-the-shelf data gathering and analysis in each system would improve the average department’s business intelligence competency immediately.
For e-billing, for example, run off the shelf reports and dashboards to see how the department’s total spend and partner/associate ratios compare to industry averages for the work performed. Combining this with the data from that gathered from the department’s enterprise legal management systems will provide actionable insights on how to best allocate resources. It will also allow department leaders to effectively engage with business leadership around the numbers.
With respect to contract management, measure turn-around-times and where the most time is being spent in the negotiation phase. Make tailored improvements based on the findings, but most importantly, align these metrics with how the business development team is measured. This will allow department leaders to tell a compelling story of how the department has collaborated with other business units to support revenue generation and shorten the lifecycle of deals.
Through these processes, the department can establish that it is focused on leadership priorities effectively within a budget, allowing leaders to present data that supports resource requests easily and quickly.
Continuously measuring effectiveness
Now, the legal department has a rich set of data that it can present to corporate leaders to facilitate effective dialogue and collaboration. Do not squander this opportunity by ineffectively communicating or failing to measure your communications strategy as well.
Fortunately, implementing business intelligence to measure communications is easy. Marketing and corporate communications teams have email platforms at their disposal. Start running your key communications on department initiatives in the enterprise platform. Measure open rate, read rate, click rate, and other similar digital engagement metrics. This data is benchmarked against all internal communications and aggregate global benchmarks.
Now, you will know which messages or communications format are resonating the most with key business partners, allowing you to target future communications, training, and collaboration opportunities that will ultimately lead the legal department into a trusted adviser relationship with more business partners.
Next, we will look at the CLOC Core Function of Information Governance