Data has become an increasingly critical part of the way law firms do business, with difficult decisions now being weighed using analytics and information. While lawyers are united on the fact that data is the way forward, firms take different approaches in how they get the best out of the information at hand.
WHAT KIND OF DATA IS MOST IMPORTANT FOR YOUR FIRM’S BUSINESS, AND HOW DO YOU USE THIS TO DRIVE STRATEGY?
JAMIE STRANGER, Greater China office managing partner, Stephenson Harwood
“The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data,” stated a 2017 Economist headline heralding the growing dominance of information capture and analytics, a commodity increasingly embraced by the legal sector. In recent years, we’ve seen a real shift in the legal profession, with more law ﬁrms actively adopting technology – and, more speciﬁcally, using data – to make strategic decisions. Law ﬁrms now understand the signiﬁcance of data in order to drive change, and to develop – and also implement – effective and informed strategies that represent both clients and employees’ best interests and needs. Areas where data has already proven its use and value include risk, competitive market insights, wider business development opportunities, and engagement with employees. Data can be used to evaluate and mitigate risk, whether in terms of budget or reputation; to understand key market trends and developments, to ensure core practices are aligned accordingly; to source and identify new business opportunities; and to help law ﬁrms understand their employees’ needs. In short, data provides a solid foundation, upon which law ﬁrms can develop successful, informed strategies, which enable them to stand apart from their competitors in the market.
ANDREW STOUTLEY, chief operating officer, Tilleke & Gibbins
As virtually all of our ﬁrm’s operations are now rooted in technology, we’re fortunate to have metrics on every aspect of our business that we can look to when we want to improve efﬁciency and deliver more value to our clients. This has revolutionized how we approach strategy. We recently undertook a major strategic planning process to lay out the ﬁrm’s strategy for the next several years, and we started by gathering quantitative and qualitative data on absolutely every subject that the project tackled — fees and ﬁnancial metrics of course, but also client satisfaction, pricing, employee engagement, market analyses… the list goes on and on. With access to such a wealth of metrics, the question really shifts from “Which of these data are most important?” to “How can we ﬁnd the key insights and take the necessary actions?” In that respect, data visualization is probably the most important tool at our disposal. On the planning side, we use visualizations from Power BI and other software to help us identify areas for improvement, and on the implementation side, we incorporate those visualizations into dashboards in our practice management software to help everyone monitor the success of strategic implementation — customized to reﬂect the parts of the project that matter most to their function — in real-time. Different types of data are important to different parts of our business, but it’s really how we democratize and apply the data that counts.
JULIANNE DOE, corporate and data privacy partner, Dentons
The legal sector needs to embrace data as a business asset. We know the data principles – collection, retention, usage and transfer – but these do not themselves form a data strategy. Until data can become information that value-adds to promoting and operating the business, it gathers dust. Law ﬁrms, just like other businesses, need to have goals and objectives that a data strategy plan is set to achieve. For example, analyses of which practice areas have demonstrated the highest/lowest proﬁt margins, or are loss-making despite gross revenue; legal spending of particular important clients; demonstration of expertise and experience in client pitches; analysis of historical litigation outcomes when different strategies were used; and insights which help with marketing and pitching to prospective clients. Goals and objectives may differ between ﬁrms but underlying them universally is the need for quality and strategic information which is delivered with speed and accuracy.
LISA THENG, managing partner, CNPLaw
At CNPLaw, we adopt a holistic approach to data analysis. Data is a multi-faceted tool that can be used to drive business strategy. Our approach is to deﬁne key challenges and business-critical questions, create the methodology and set realistic KPIs to measure its effectiveness. For example, we use data from our billing and matter management systems to analyse productivity, results and outcomes to better improve our approach and strategy in future matters. We analyse the customer interaction rates of our website and in-house newsletter. This allows us to strategically come out with targeted content and analyse the current viewership trends to stay current. From the data collected, we then ﬁne-tune our legal offerings to suit our client demographic. Lastly, we invest heavily in data security and protection to ensure that all our data usage is compliant with Singapore law which would give our clients the assurance that their data is safe with us.
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