6 Tips for Turbo-charging Legal Departments with Data.

6 Tips for Turbo-charging Legal Departments with Data

As a Chief General Counsel, you have seen massive shifts in the legal domain. Contract drafts and review, research around case law, due diligence information or even simple operational information around spend, invoicing or counsel hire – your team is creating, editing or sharing phenomenal amounts of data. Legal firms are becoming increasingly paperless and transactions are getting digitalised. This has increased the data footprint even further.

It’s a virtuous cycle, more data helps in converting traditional, analogue transactions to their digital equivalents, which in turn are creating more data in an electronic form which is driving even more digital adoption.

The information in your hands presents tremendous opportunities –

It can be analysed to improve litigation outcome, plug contract loopholes, identify successful external counsel, predict the outcome of litigation cases to limit projected spend
The data can be used to collaborate with other parts of your organisation – with the product teams to define terms and conditions of usage, identify service scripts which could potentially lead to reputational damage due to litigations etc.

It can also be used for transparency in your operations. Like most Group functions, your department is also under increased scrutiny of costs, risk and compliance to regulatory and legal frameworks of the multiple legal jurisdictions in which you operate.

And yet this data presents significant challenges too –

It is stuck in silos. It arrives in many different formats and at different times, making integration difficult
It contains sensitive information that would raise privacy concerns
Frequent collaboration with external parties opens the data up to leakage risks
Data protection regimes in multiple legal jurisdictions are diverse and cross-border compliance is cumbersome
The quality of the data is circumspect, which is why your team has to spend inordinate amounts of time and effort to “cleanse” the data every month.

So what do you do? How do you start using your data better? How can you reap its benefits as well as steer clear of its risks and pitfalls?

It’s not easy. As per a research done by New Vantage Partners last year, almost 8 out 10 (77%) organisations have failed to successfully implement a data-driven transformation. This is despite the fact that 92% of them have increased their spend on Big Data and AI technologies year on year. For some reason, the intuitive approach for data-driven transformation seems to be implementing more technology. Sadly, you cannot throw computer boxes, wires and cables at your data problem!

Instead take a planned and structured approach. Here are 6 tips for success –

1] Start by identifying what “good looks like” – Don’t start with the problem statement. That limits imagination. You will find your team members will get stuck in “why this cannot happen”? Instead, ask them to chart out their ideal day. What could they achieve when each data element they need is easily available? What would make them trust this data as accurate and timely? What new possibilities will they explore? Which hypotheses would they test? What datasets would they match for additional insight?

Starting with their ambition helps in creating a change mindset. Rather than continuing to fix what is broken, you want your team to start to break away from the past and build new possibilities. Build a new vision for your team. Having a compelling vision will work wonders. It will give a “north star” to your transformation effort, it will become a rallying cry for gathering support and momentum for your journey and it will also help to manage any scope creep which is an inevitable side effect of a successful programme!

2] Start small – A data-driven organisation means implementing some data capabilities. See our framework here. Not all of these capabilities may be exotic and new for you. You probably have implemented some of them at least to some measure already. Identify the capabilities required to meet a minimum set of “must-have” requirements. Usually, these would be around data security, regulatory compliance and creating a basic performance dashboard to report back to the head office. The initial scope could also include tactical solutions to some of the critical data issues, albeit at the risk of technical debt.

3] Evolve gradually – Best-in-class data-driven legal teams build most (if not all) data capabilities to a fairly high level of maturity. However, trying to build all of them in one go would be over-ambitious. So create transition states, with each transition state being described in terms of a basket of capabilities which will be implemented

4] Use the momentum in your wider organisation – Given the increased focus on data, there are all chances that your organisation has already started taking steps towards becoming more data-driven. You probably already have specialist data functions such as the Chief Data Office, Chief Analytics Office, Data Operations teams, Data quality teams etc. Leverage the artefacts, policies and technology already implemented by these teams rather than creating new.

5] People & Culture will ensure success, not technology – People will make or break your endeavour. Give them the right skills, operational models and technical tools. Incentivise them for the right behaviour through appraisal cycles and development plans.

6] Create a data strategy, and talk about it – It always helps to write down your game plan. Think about the data strategy as the set of decisions you need to take to achieve your data vision.

However, merely creating a paper tiger is not enough. Use the strategy to communicate your vision and implementation plan. It helps in the change management exercise. Make this communication a two-way exercise. Gather feedback from your peers and team members about what works and what doesn’t.

If done right, you will see remarkable benefits –

A data literate workforce, which understands the power of high-quality data, which deploys data in their day to day operations and makes decisions based on hard evidence rather than gut feel
Secure and deep collaboration with your external partners that removes process bottlenecks and inefficiencies
Increased transparency around your cost base, litigation spend and team productivity

Talk to us for a no-obligation breakthrough call by clicking here to find out how we can help you with your data-driven transformation journey.