How metrics are transforming in-house legal decision making

Metrics for in-house legal teams

Metrics are an essential tool for in-house legal teams, bringing data into the decision-making process. So how can metrics transform your team’s legal ops strategy and showcase legal’s value?

It’s taken a while for in-house legal departments to start talking about metrics, but now the conversation is picking up. Legal teams are beginning to realize the value metrics bring to the decision-making process.

As one of CLOC’s Core 12 Competencies, “Business Intelligence” focuses on making better decisions through the use of data. CLOC says the current reality is that in-house departments make minimal use of data and metrics, often struggling to access or identify the right data, and/or lacking the culture to make consistent use of analytics. Yet the alternative is an organization that’s managed and guided through data, not intuition, and uncovers hidden trends, new efficiencies, and focuses on the team’s clear and measurable outcomes that make a difference to the business.

Why now?

Legal teams are realizing that while other parts of the business such as finance and sales have technology solutions capturing structured data in a system of record, legal seems to be surviving using a piecemeal approach of spreadsheets and email. Of course, experience, intuition, and qualitative information all play a key role in a legal team’s toolkit, but there’s also a place for decisions based on fact – that is, the data.  The rise of dedicated and holistic in-house legal technology has made it more possible than ever to have this data, it’s just a matter of structuring it, surfacing it, and using it in a meaningful way – by using metrics.

How do metrics make a difference?

Firstly, let’s uncover the relationship between metrics and data. Metrics are the quantitative measurements of data. In other words, where your data point may just be a number, your metric is the number of minutes, hours, or a specific trend over time. So really, metrics are what drive the data you interpret and use. However, metrics and therefore, your data is only useful if it supports the strategic direction of the organization – otherwise it’s just another set of numbers.

Using the right metrics brings value and offers new solutions to areas such as:

  • prioritising workload – how should we use our resources? Is there a need for additional resources?
  • managing external spend – what type of work do we want to outsource?
  • streamlining or automating manual processes – how can we use our time on higher-value legal work?
  • managing risk – what is our appetite for risk?
  • supporting the business — how are we enabling the business to meet the desired outcomes?

The magic of metrics begins to appear when the findings are analyzed, reported on, and used to inform the decision-making process. It’s then that the impact of informed decisions is evident across not only the legal department, but also across the wider organization.

With improved transparency, the real value of the legal department is shared with the wider organization. Decisions are more impactful, as they’re backed by rich, real-time data. There’s improved productivity with a greater understanding of the performance of the in-house legal team, including the workflow, the type of work being done, and any areas that need addressing. Both internal and external spend is optimized, with a more comprehensive understanding of outsourced work.

In order to make the most of your metrics, they should be accessible, easy to use and presented in a compelling and user-friendly way that provides the information needed quickly and readily. The metrics should also be displayed in the way that works best for your team and the wider business. Easy to use dashboards, with strong visual analytics practices applied, are ideal; it’s a bonus if you can dice, drill, and interact with the dashboards to answer specific questions. Some products will let you expose underlying data and export as well, so you have more flexibility.

How mature are your metrics?

For the most part, legal teams currently use data and metrics to see and report on what’s happening in their department. But hopefully we’ve shown you that so much more can be achieved, making now a great time to start making data driven decisions by utilizing metrics. For a more comprehensive guide on key metrics to measure and how to use them, download our whitepaper “Metrics for in-house legal teams”.

Alternatively, you can also learn more about where to start with reporting including what data to capture, how to capture it, and common reports that can help unlock insights and better decision making for your legal team as part of a dedicated Reporting course within the Legal Tech Fundamentals Certification. It’s free and takes only takes a few minutes to complete!

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