Harnessing the Power of Data to Supercharge Your Legal Operations

There’s a tidal wave of innovation coming for all industries — whether you’re talking about AI, machine learning, or some other cutting-edge tech.

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Legal organizations aren’t usually among the earliest adopters of the latest and greatest — and there are a few very good reasons for that:

  • Regulations and security. Law firms and legal departments need to ensure client confidentiality and compliance, so they naturally tend to be cautious.
  • Legacy workflows. Many legal organizations still use paper-based documents, email, and spreadsheets. There’s a reluctance to move to digital workflows.
  • A widespread resistance to change. The hesitation to embrace technology within the legal profession is perhaps more conspicuous than in any other industry.

But there’s no doubt that the tidal wave is coming. It’s only a matter of time before the legal industry starts to accelerate change, improve efficiency, and fully embrace the benefits of being truly data-driven.

The good news is that no matter how your organization feels about digital transformation today, even the most hesitant users jump on board quickly when you demonstrate wins.

And those wins can be significant.

The Benefits of Digital Transformation for Legal Organizations

Law firms, corporate legal departments, and state and local governments that embrace innovation gain some impressive advantages:

Remove the guesswork from business operations

With the right data, you can make better decisions faster, improving service levels and value, reducing costs, and mitigating risks. You can also gain sizable operational efficiencies, better manage performance and ensure compliance. Collaboration and focus on action improve, both at the departmental and organizational levels.

These new capabilities, built on the right data foundation, give you a distinct advantage when competing with other firms and companies.

Build the Data Foundation to Optimize Performance (KPIs)

There are many data points that will help your company or firm accelerate change when they’re collected and analyzed properly. A few of the most common ones include:

  • Number of matters resolved
  • Matter resolution cycle time/cost
  • Outside counsel performance
  • Service Level Agreement (SLA) improvements
  • Response time
  • Risk assessment and exposure
  • Efficiency cost per volume
  • Quality metrics
  • DEI and other talent KPIs

The main roadblock, of course, is that much of your data is likely siloed in document management, financial, or other standalone systems that don’t easily talk to each other.

These types of data challenges can make it difficult to know where to start on your data journey.

The Components of a Modern Analytics Program

Mike Lampa, Co-Founder and Chief Analytics Officer at Great Data Minds, identifies five key elements of a modern analytics program as well as the underlying benefits and value of each.

They’re summarized in the House of Modern Analytics.

gdm modern analytics program

The Roof: The Value of Effective Planning

Start by identifying the value you want to deliver. What kind of analytics do you need to make sure your legal department best serves your clients or constituents while still linking to your overall corporate strategy? How can legal contribute to achieving your organization’s strategic initiatives through more optimized performance?

Pillar 1: Data Ops and Machine Learning

This software continually collects and transforms raw data from operational systems, billing platforms, matters platforms, etc. The right tools bring it all together, publishing a data product that enables analytics.

Pillar 2: Data Management

Data products are made available for analytic consumption through a data catalog. All data governance and compliance requirements are baked in along with security and access controls. The solution is designed to get the right data to the right people at the right time to enable the answers to the right questions.

Pillar 3: Data Science and Discovery

This is where the value is generated. You can take action, get insights by asking questions and make better decisions, faster. With machine learning and AI, you can be more productive and prescriptive. You can be more proactive instead of always reactive.

The Foundation: Managing Change

Finally, don’t forget to nurture your people. This is a cultural shift. Change management is about helping people to get comfortable and embrace the fact that data-driven decisions are producing better outcomes. You’ll have highly motivated people who are focused on continuous improvement toward better outcomes.

Proper planning throughout is key. Optimize your spend on analytics to produce value and make sure that you have the right enabling technology in place for your organization — tools and processes that also fit your budget and your capabilities.

So how do you ensure a positive outcome?

4 Keys to Digital Transformation Success

While one size doesn’t always fit all organizations, these 4 keys are useful.

To begin, start with a good use case — one that’s not too complex but will demonstrate measurable value. Remember that success tends to snowball.

Let’s say you’re looking to optimize a particular practice staffing model using data analytics and the focus is on efficiency.

1. Set clear goals

As an example, you might aim to improve the staffing efficiency by 30% over a six-month period.

2. Ensure access to quality data sets

Collect and prepare clean data from different sources. The more sources you have, the better your insights will be and the more value they’ll deliver.

Now you can start analyzing, identifying key factors affecting staffing efficiency in this case. Look for data-driven strategies to address those.

It’s critical to set milestones so you can track your progress, for example improving efficiency 5% every month. Continuously refine your approach, collect feedback from stakeholders, and add additional data.

3. Collaborate with the right stakeholders

Collaboration is essential to this process. Failing to engage with stakeholders will lead to misaligned expectations, reduced adoption, and even limited support for the project — all of which may mean missing your original objectives.

Build trust in the program by keeping all stakeholders in the loop and encouraging feedback. And always share your data analytics success stories.

4. Demonstrate progress and achieve early wins

Finally, monitor the outcomes of the project as you go. Be ready to adjust your strategy as needed and ensure continuous improvement.

Following these key steps will serve you well on your way to leveraging data analytics.

Legal Industry Applications and Successes

The right tools will transform your unstructured data into useful, structured data. At that point you can use whatever platform you like — whether that’s Salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, or something else — to get the insights and quick wins you need. You don’t need to be a data scientist to get value sooner rather than later.

Advologix, a leading provider of enterprise legal management software, receives invoices in many different formats, through various portals and other systems. They worked with HIKE2 to use machine learning, optical character recognition (OCR) and named entity recognition to categorize invoice data so that it compares apples to apples. The early wins were significant.

EIG Immigration Group is known for their customer experience, which encompasses how they interact with both foreign nationals and their corporate clients. They wanted a tech solution that was as remarkable as their service.

There wasn’t a product on the market that focused on immigration, so EIG developed their own platform, called Aurora. It encompasses many different technologies, including Salesforce.

Within five to six months of launching in January 2022, they had converted all their clients off the legacy platform. They build Experience Cloud portals for their corporate clients and a Tableau component where corporate users can log in and see overall heat maps showing where visa holders and work permit holders are located in the US and the world. They can also see assessments, initiations, spend, and more.

The foreign nationals can log in, upload documents, complete questionnaires, view case status, and see who’s assigned to their case.

Through their Aurora platform, EIG has created cadence and automated many workflows, including communication. Not only have customers been quick to adapt and adopt to the system, the portals make it easy to log in, understand the system, and navigate. “It’s exceptionally intuitive,” says Justin Parsons, Partner at EIG. “We’ve rolled out some pretty major initiatives and projects in the past 12 months, a lot of additional automations that have increased efficiencies and user experience features. We’ve been surprised how quickly EIG and our partners at HIKE2 have been able to innovate. The data is cleaner and reporting is faster. The platform has really transformed our business. We’ve seen our satisfaction survey results go up.”

Take the next step in your data journey

HIKE2 advises law firms, corporate legal organizations, and public sector agencies, guiding organizations and firms who want to digitally transform and supercharge their legal organizations.

No matter where you are in your data journey, we’ll meet you where you’re at and provide practical observations.

Want to learn more? Watch our legal transformation videos.

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