Data Management Will Revolutionize Law Firm Operations

Meredith Williams-Range, Chief Knowledge and Client Value Officer, Shearman and Sterling LLP and Lawrence Baxter, Chief Technology Officer, Shearman andSterling LLP
Meredith Williams-Range, Chief Knowledge and Client Value Officer, Shearman and Sterling LLP

Meredith Williams-Range, Chief Knowledge and Client Value Officer, Shearman and Sterling LLP

Take online mega-retailer Amazon, for instance. Amazon uses data on everything its customers search for or purchase to predict what else they might be interested in and proactively uses that data to recommend additional purchases.

Netflix is another example. The video streaming company uses data on what viewers watch, for how long and how often, to predict what they might want to watch next. By analyzing the data, Netflix also gets valuable insight into what new shows could be smash hits.

Law firms can apply the same strategy to out-perform and stand out from their peer group. By looking at every piece of data it produces as an important piece of business intelligence, and seeking ways to manage and leverage that data, law firms can make their operations more efficient, improve client satisfaction and loyalty and enhance profitability.

Think of the vast amount of data law firms produce on a constant basis. Every device, every client communication, every legal document possessesinformation that can help law firms create new efficiencies, make predictive analyses and implement new pricing and business models that can be used to aid lawyers and retain clients.

  Combiningall the data that firms produce internally with external data sources can inform strategic decision making, support investment decisions and pinpoint where new business opportunities exist, transforming data into intelligent action”Data, if harnessed correctly, can give organizations a competitive edge over their peers​  

Combiningall the data that firmsproduce internally with external data sources can inform strategic decision making, support investment decisions and pinpoint where new business opportunities exist, transforming data into intelligent action.

Some law firms are working with global providers to help streamline all internal systems, passively track data, and integrate external data sets that allow them to move from seeing “what happened” in matter files and understanding “why it happened” to predicting “what will happen” and ultimately, knowing “what advice to provide to clients.”

Better, Faster, More Cost Effective

By putting all this business intelligence to good use, law firms can become more competitive, providing better, faster and more cost-effective services.

In many cases, time spent to do everyday tasks such as legal research or locating internal resources is written off or down. This can have a major impact to the business and overall profitability. Lawyers have to go to multiple places to get information, slowing down the process of providing counsel to the client.

If the firm, however, were able to efficiently collect and analyze all of its data, the lawyers would be able to provide timely, holistic counsel to clients, instead of just using anecdotal knowledge about prior files. By making all business intelligence easily retrievable, lawyers can obtain contextual internal and external data to provide counsel around legal spend and risk analysis—two pieces of information that are top of mind for all of clients.

In fact, when looking to hire a law firm, potential clients are increasingly requesting information on how law firms are utilizing legal tech, data analytics, legal project management solutions, process improvement, matter management, and more to modernize their operations.

Data Management Helps Everyone at the Firm, Not Just the Lawyers

The implementation of these modern technologies brings many benefits to lawyers, law firm staff and clients.

First, lawyers benefit from a seamless legal research process and consistent searching experience for both books and client matter data.

By taking advantage of external data feeds, lawyers and staff can cut down the amount of time they spend on data entry and data verification, instead benefitting from a streamlined process and, ultimately, cleaner, more accurate and complete data.

Business development professionals are able to create award submissions, requests for proposals and league tables in just a few days rather than a few weeks.

Legal project management professionals are able to create budget, pricing and staffing models within minutes for client and matter teams.

Most importantly, law firms will see fewer write-offs and write-downs related to tasks that clients no longer see valuable.

The Benefits Extend to Clients Too

Clients also see benefits for their lawyers having seamless access to data and information. For one, clients will obtain answers to their questions more quickly. They will also benefit from predictive staffing, budgeting and pricing on all matters.

Recent general counsel surveys and studies reveal that the main reason clients leave law firms is due to inefficiency. Data combined with improved process and technology can provide large efficiency gains which flow through directly to the client, ultimately translating into loyalty.

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