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The Power of Legal Analytics: Why Knowing What to Measure is Key

Published on Jul 05, 2023
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Analytics and data are crucial inputs for making informed business decisions. They provide evidence-based insights into various aspects of a company’s operations, enabling law firms to make educated decisions about their practice, clients, and overall strategy. Firms can use data to identify trends, make accurate forecasts, and monitor performance against key performance indicators (KPIs).

However, without clear objectives, data collection efforts may not yield useful insights or, worse, may result in misguided decisions based on incomplete or irrelevant information. Before a firm can use data to optimize firm operations, improve client satisfaction, maximize revenue, etc., there must be a clearly articulated end game to work towards.

The importance of defining goals and objectives

Defining goals and objectives is an essential first step in the data collection and analysis process for law firms. When firms define their objectives and KPIs, they need to consider how these goals align with their broader business strategy. For example, if the overall business strategy is to expand into a new practice area, the firm’s objectives and KPIs should focus on that area to ensure that the data collected provides insights that can inform that expansion.

Aligning goals and objectives with overall business strategy also helps to ensure that firms are making data-driven decisions that support their strategic priorities. For example, if the overall business strategy is to increase profitability, data collection efforts should focus on areas that can drive revenue growth, such as improving client retention or increasing billable hours (if applicable). These goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Once a firm has identified its goals and objectives, it can determine the KPIs that are relevant to its specific needs. For example, if the goal is to reduce administrative tasks, a relevant KPI could be the time spent on such tasks per employee per day. Similarly, if the goal is to attract high-value clients, KPIs could include the number of new clients with significant injuries or the average revenue generated by new clients.

Defining goals and objectives guides firms in their efforts to collect relevant data. It helps them focus their efforts on the areas that are most critical to their success and ensures that the acquired data is used to make informed decisions that drive the firm toward its objectives.

Identifying key performance indicators (KPIs)

Once you have defined your goals and objectives, it’s time to drill down into KPIs. To identify relevant KPIs for their specific needs, law firms should identify the metrics that are most critical to achieving their goals and track those metrics over time. Some KPIs focused on optimizing law firm operations might include:

  1. Client acquisition: Firms need to track the number of new clients they acquire over a specific period to remain informed about the firm’s financial health and identify areas for improvement in their client acquisition strategies. They also need to define their criteria and ensure cases acquired meet that criteria.
  2. Client retention: By measuring the percentage of clients that a firm retains over a specific period, a law firm can validate the assumption that they are meeting their clients’ needs or identify opportunities to improve client retention strategies. Tracking satisfaction levels can also be an appropriate measurement.
  3. Average matter value: Legal firms need to track the average value of legal matters they handle to ensure that they are working on high-value matters and to discover gaps in their matter selection strategies.

By monitoring KPIs and analyzing trends, firms can identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions that support their overall business objectives.

Collecting and analyzing data to make actionable decisions

Legal firms can collect data from various sources, including case management software, financial reports, client surveys, social media platforms, and website analytics tools. These sources provide valuable insights into various aspects of the firm’s operations (e.g., performance, client satisfaction, marketing effectiveness, financial health, etc.).

Case or practice management software tracks the time spent on legal matters, billable hours, and other critical metrics related to the practice of law, making it an essential data source for law firms. Financial reports provide insights into revenue generation, expenses, profit margins, and other financial indicators that are important for assessing a firm’s financial health.

To analyze and interpret data and KPIs, legal firms can use data visualization tools, such as graphs, charts, and dashboards, to help identify trends and patterns. They can also use historical data and industry benchmarks to gain a better understanding of their performance relative to their peers.

Once a firm has analyzed and interpreted its data and KPIs, it can use the acquired insights to make informed decisions that advance its business objectives. For example, if client surveys reveal low satisfaction rates, the firm may need to invest in training for its lawyers or improve its client communication processes.

The importance of taking action

Data analysis is only beneficial to firms if they act based on the insights gained from the analysis. Failing to act can result in missed opportunities for growth, decreased profitability, and a loss of competitive advantage.

For example, if a law firm notices that its client retention rates have dropped significantly in the past several months but chooses not to investigate why, it will need to spend more money on acquiring new clients and will always end up trying to fill a leaky bucket. Not the most sustainable business model!

Legal firms must draft a plan of action to respond to data analysis insights. This plan should include steps to address any issues identified, allocate resources, and track progress over time. It is also essential to communicate the insights gained from data analysis to key stakeholders, including lawyers and support staff, to ensure that everyone is aware of any changes that need to be made.

Having an action plan and communicating insights to key stakeholders will drive the best possible results that will propel their business forward.

In today’s data-driven world, the most competitive legal firms use analytics and data to make informed decisions that advance their business objectives. However, firms must first define their goals and objectives, align them with their overall business strategy, and identify relevant KPIs to measure progress towards those objectives for any analysis to be helpful.

Taking action based on the insights gained from data analysis is critical for legal firms to drive positive outcomes for their business; insights without action are useless.

Analytics and data are valuable assets that firms can use to improve their operations, drive growth, and stay competitive. By using these tools effectively and acting based on the insights acquired, law firms can achieve their goals and objectives and position themselves for long-term success.

About Jim Garrett, CTO, Assembly Software:

A passionate technology leader, Jim has spent 25 years in software development, focusing on SaaS for the past eight years. Jim believes in meeting the ever-changing needs and modern demands of our customers by focusing on the optimization of design and development processes for innovation. Holding an MBA from Southern Methodist University along with multiple technical certifications, Jim offers his expertise as a business leader on best practices for software modernization.

About Assembly:

Assembly Software blends decades of history and industry experience with next-generation, customer-focused innovation. It brings together two of the legal profession’s pioneering case management brands, Needles and Trialworks, both of which have contributed to Neos, Assembly’s reimagined cloud-based solution. Neos has evolved and will continue to disrupt and transform the legal sector to meet the changing needs of modern law firms.

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