Making the best use of data is a key competency in legal operations, and a fundamental part of optimising your in-house legal function for today’s environment. But many lawyers we speak to want practical advice as to how they can get started in their company. That’s what our expert panel aimed to cover in our webinar on data-driven legal processes this week.
Stephanie Corey was one of CLOC’s co-founders, since going on to found and serve as general partner of UpLevel Ops, a consulting firm serving in-house legal departments and law firms. She emphasised the importance of gathering data, to avoid managing based on anecdote - because how are you supposed to run a department without an evidence base?
She advised that it’s important to empower the deputies within a department to own their data - for example, there are key numbers to track that relate to contracts data, spend data, ethics and compliance data and IP data. Have each of the deputies in the team who is responsible for those areas choose up to 4 metrics they can track that are most critical to the performance of the function. Use those metrics to tell a story over time and you’ll have a much fuller picture of whether your work is moving the needle.
Lucy Endel Bassli is chief legal strategist at LawGeex and a former assistant general counsel at Microsoft, overseeing legal operations and contracting. She underlined the value of even the most basic metrics as the context with which to bust myths and show improvements to the business.
For example, the old saw about legal taking too long to turn around contracts is frustrating to lawyers: long compared to what? The real objection is that business hates unpredictability, so if you can use a dataset to offer a predictable figure - even if that figure represents a long time - it will offer predictability, and give you a hard target against which you can easily show measurable improvement. “Even that basic data can move mountains,” when it comes to internal perceptions of legal, Lucy advised.
Sarah Barret-Vane, legal operations consultant and former director of legal operations at Royal Mail, offered practical first steps for departments that feel they lack the size or resource to get started. Particularly in the UK, there are often skills gaps in in-house teams composed mostly of lawyers. But that doesn’t need to hold you back. Getting a keen team assistant or paralegal to put some time in Excel, just learning the basics, is enough to get started. From those baby steps, once you see improvements in the numbers, it becomes easier to justify training and resources to take data to the next level.
Additionally, departments that perhaps lack for headcount could consider the ALSPs as a solution. Such firms have been set up specifically to work in a data-driven way that helps clients to receive the kind of service levels they’ve come to expect; make use of them to bolster your analytics resource and it’s likely you’ll see a quick, evidence-based impact to take to the GC.
Check out the slides and the recording of the webinar here.
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