Episode 4 of 5

Lead – leading change in the data-informed legal team

Reading time: 3 minutes

Now that you’re familiar with how a data-informed team can shape its workflow and ways of working, the benefits of metrics to understand how your team is functioning, and some of the big opportunities that lie ahead, stage four of the journey is about leading the change.

As we’ve seen, the data-informed in-house legal team works in a different way, and there’s the potential to build on these new ways of working exponentially. But just doing your work differently by using data isn’t enough to bring about a full-scale change to the legal industry.

Someone needs to lead the change. And that someone could be you.

The real reason for having a system of record

Moving to be a data-informed team means a shift in how the whole team and the whole organization works.

Change management is no easy feat, especially in the legal sector where, for the most part, we do things the way they’ve always been done, with little changing over the years – compared to our colleagues in other areas of the business.

The key to leading change successfully is to be informed – data-informed. If you have the facts presented through data, then people are more likely to listen.

To do this you need to do “step one”, which is getting your system of record in place. In doing this you’ll start capturing some rudimentary data points and let those points do one of two things:

  1. Let them inform your next steps, or;
  2. Go into a project with a plan and use the data points to validate what you want to do next.

It’s easy for people to argue and push back against your ideas, your opinions, and your plans, but it’s very difficult for people to push back against data. So, if you’re able to use the basic data points to validate what you think should be done next, it helps to make a case to the team and build momentum around an idea.

That’s why it’s so important to start this journey with a system of record to capture your data – it helps to prove the change management process, whether it’s selling a new idea to the team, or to the C-suite.

Leading change for a high-performing legal team

Listen to Katie from Airways NZ discuss her experience.

Managing change takes a special kind of person, especially in the legal sector where taking the more traditional approach often reigns supreme.

I think it’s mainly the right mindset that’s needed to lead change, more than skillset or technology. It’s someone who understands that one of the core components of improvement is change – and that you can’t improve without change.

It’s a powerful combination of having a person to lead the change who has the right mindset and who is also in a position where they have some level of influence. This means they can pull the right levers and select the right people to collaborate, while getting the right sponsors on board to drive the initiative from the top down. While this is happening, they also need to rally the troops and come in with a bottom-up approach to get everyone in the team on board, by finding out what motivates them to embrace and adopt change.

Having someone who has experience with change management projects in the past can also be hugely advantageous.

To match the ‘people’ side of things, you also need the right technology. It needs to be flexible, it needs to be simple, and it needs to be a solution that will scale with you into the future. Whatever solution you implement, it still needs to be relevant in ten years time, right?

The value of momentum

After identifying the problems you need to solve as an in-house legal team, the next step is to gain an understanding of how quickly you will arrive at the very first value, where you realize that the problems to set out to remedy or improve are being solved.

The timeframe between the starting point of your journey to using data and the actual point you begin to use it needs to be reasonable or you’re going to run out of steam. While the journey to becoming a data-informed legal team is never-ending, that doesn’t mean that results remain elusive. It’s important that any changes, any new technology solutions are implemented in the most efficient way possible, meaning there is less stress and uncertainty placed on the team and the wider organization.

Combining what we’ve looked at so far – having a system of record, the new ways of working, and insights into how to use data to inform how you lead change – the final article in this series looks at what the future could look like as your team embraces its journey to becoming data-informed, bringing this new reality even closer.