If you’re a general counsel, it’s normal that you will depend a lot on outside counsel as well as on expertise from inside your business to make sure your legal company or firm is heading in the right direction. Before any big decision is made, you’ll most likely be reading through case studies and texts and speaking to experts before you finally make the decision. What’s interesting, though, is that you’re probably not doing that when it comes to your legal data.
In reality, you can get insight from your legal data that can be powerful and help you to make crucial decisions and predictions concerning legal expenses, focus on growing your team when the timing is right and in the correct direction, as well as increase your rate negotiations with your external counsel—saving your firm a lot of money in the process.
There are general counsels all over the world and everyone runs their business differently. One commonality, however, is that the teams that are the most successful and that stand out from the others are the ones that use their legal data to make better decisions for the company. They apply the same practices of using critical thought to manage legal data as though it were any other legal decision. By collecting and using data to find commonalities and metrics when it comes to legal reporting, you can get crucial insights to boost your efficiency and optimize the money that you spend. Here’s a guide to help you.
1. Start by defining your objectives.
Each team operates differently and therefore has different needs, goals, and missions. Depending on the general counsel, some will put spending optimization as the main goal, whereas others will focus more and improving the quality of the team’s work and the efficiency of it overall. The first step to becoming a successful general counsel driven by data is defining your goals and objectives.
Tanya Goodman, a marketer blogger at 1 Day 2 Write and Brit Student, explains to her marketing readers that “those goals will help you narrow down the type of data you want to collect and analyze. Some examples are saving costs, optimizing the efficiency and cost of outside counsel, improving your work quality, and growing your team in-house.”
2. Find the data that is right for your goal.
Once you figure out what your goal is, you can figure out what data is relevant to you achieving that goal. If your goal is to cut your costs, you won’t want to waste time gathering data on how efficient your outside counsel is. You need to spend time finding the key metrics to help you achieve your goal. These metrics must be specific and measurable, such as your total legal spend every year, your outside counsel and their spend rates, your matter types and spend rates, your monthly spend type by matter, and more.
3. Get a good data dashboard for visualization.
At the end of the day, data is just some numbers and sometimes words that are jumbled on a spreadsheet. You can’t get any value or make actionable decisions on the data until you organize it in a dashboard—that’s how you can start making data-driven decisions.
Robert Morris, a business writer at Australia 2 Write and Next CourseWork, shares that according to his experience using data to drive business decisions, “once you choose the data that matters to you, you have to organize it in a way that you can visualize and understand it. Put it in a spreadsheet and make some charts so you can identify trends over time.”
When you spend time gathering and analyzing the right data, you can become a general counsel that’s data-driven. This transition isn’t particularly difficult or time-consuming. It’s as simple as following the three steps outlined here, which have been used again and again to great success by general counsel all over the world. Then, you can start making decisions about your business, your team, your expenses, and your outside counsel that are driven by facts and data as opposed to your intuition or anything less fixed.