Written by: Yanna Constantinou
In Dan Ruderman’s article, he discusses the outcome of a recent panel he moderated with legal professionals that smartly concluded the best way to prove value to the business is via metrics, analytics and reporting. He goes on to state; “it’s no longer a choice to provide data as information; business now demands it.” In business we’ve required these dashboards, alerts and custom reports for a long time, but it is nice to see the legal field embracing it as they are now able to prove their value as well as; reduce costs, manage risk, improve productivity, and ultimately, increase profits.
It’s no longer a choice to provide data as information; business now demands it.
At a recent panel I moderated, legal professionals from global corporations traded ideas for solving an important challenge: How can the law department demonstrate its broader value to the business?
While the representatives stemmed from a variety of industries – financial services, communications, technology and consumer – the panel found common ground in one conclusion: Proving value rests in metrics, analytics and reporting.
It’s no longer a choice to provide data as information, the panel concluded; business now demands it.
Overcoming Cultural Resistance to Legal Metrics
“We are currently going through an implementation and change is very difficult for attorneys. If you ask an attorney about metrics and reporting, they’ll say it’s an art, not a science,” according to one legal department administrator from a consumer company with a portfolio of family brands.
The key she said is including corporate attorneys from the outset – to give them a stake in shaping the outcome.
“Part of what we’re doing to overcome a resistance to change is to bring attorneys in to lead the charge,” she added. “Then we are asking them for feedback and collecting it, which is a crucial part of the process.”
That process is nested in understanding how the changes will impact, or better yet benefit, the corporate legal department, according to a GC at global technology organization.
“If we’re asking corporate attorneys to change, we need to show them how using metrics can be an effective model to advancing the legal department,” she said. “They need to understand that the language of business is often spoken in metrics and use that information to convey a powerful message that will make the attorneys feel good about it and the business too.”
One way to get the team on-board is to ask the hard questions business leaders pose:
- How much exactly did our company spend on legal costs last year?
- What did we get for it?
- What will we spend next year?
Seeing is Believing: Visualizing Legal Metrics
We learn to draw long before we write, and the mind processes images faster than text. In part, this explains the trend in corporate law towards visualizing legal metrics in the form of dashboards.
One telecommunications company enters every case into a matter management system and tracks spending from the beginning all the way through resolution. Progress and budgets are depicted in a dashboard that enables the department to spot internal and overhead costs associated with an uptick in litigation.
It’s a subtle but important part of maturing legal operations and puts this department in a position to anticipate those hard questions – rather than scramble to compile data when the finance department or board of directors starts asking questions.
“We have a live dashboard broken down by matter type and region and this allows us to compare costs to other regions and enables us to look at our resources and how we’ve staffed similar matters,” stated one general counsel on the panel.
She notes attorneys in her law department are required to create matters in the matter management system and update progress along the way. The benefits outweigh the extra step because it provides a holistic picture of open cases and budgets across the department.
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