Applied Legal Data Analytics

What Data Analysts Do and Why Does My Firm Need One?

By Bárbara Gondim Da Rocha posted 07-09-2020 09:28

  

The job of the future.

According to recent forecasts of the World Economic Forum, data analysts are expected to be one of the most in-demand jobs by 2022 in companies worldwide.

Long before data science became a buzzword, William Edwards Deming said that “without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.” As the volume of data generated grows exponentially with each technological advance, more and more companies realize the importance of developing a data-driven culture, where data analysis is at the center of corporate strategies.

Because of the rise in the demand for data analytics roles, Harvard University labeled the profession “the sexiest job of the 21st century.”

But what do data analysts do?

Data analysts usually collect, process and perform statistical analyses of data. They usually hold a bachelor level degree in economics, mathematics, statistics or information technology and they have a basic understanding of computer programming, mathematics or statistics.

What industries are hiring these professionals?

Do not think having a data analyst on staff should be exclusive domain of tech companies. Since law firms have been generating and storing huge amounts of data over the years, they might as well benefit from using this data to make strategic decisions, provide better services to their clients and generate more revenue for their legal practices.

Even though the legal sector has historically been conservative when it comes to adopting trends that other industries are already utilizing, some law firms have been leveraging data analytics to differentiate from competitors.

Data analysts in the legal sector? Tell me more…

In order to provide a practical approach on how law firms have benefited from adding data analysts to their team, I invited two members of the ILTA community to talk about their experience and worldviews.

Peter Qumsiyeh – Dayton, Ohio, United States.

Peter graduated from Bethlehem University (Palestine) with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. He is a data analyst at WilmerHale, a full-service international law firm with 1,000 lawyers located throughout 13 offices in the United States, Europe and Asia, where he´s been working for the past 10 years.

After the firm established a data analytics team in 2014, as part of a larger Information Services area, Peter transitioned from his prior role and became a data analyst in 2016. The team reports to the Data Analytics Director, who reports to the CIO.

Peter’s primary job responsibilities consist in: a) extracting data from firm systems and applications; b) transforming the data into reportable information; c) loading structured data into cubes for report development; d) creating manual and automated reports for attorneys and staff; e) developing metrics, visualizations and dashboards, showing lawyers their billable hours, dollars and budgets vs. actuals; and f) troubleshooting discrepancies and answering report/data-related questions.

When questioned about the most important experiences and skills he had to learn in preparing for this job, Peter quickly replied: programming languages (such as SQL and DAX), reporting and visualization tools and applications (such as SSRS and Power BI) as well as business analysis and project management skills.

The firm has seen a huge adoption in its data analytics offerings over the years. Using the dashboards and visualizations that Peter and his team make available, partners can better manage their teams, assign work and track relevant information in order to make managerial decisions.

David Paiva – Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil.

David is a holder of a Bachelor's degree in Actuarial Sciences from the Federal University of Ceará (Brazil) and a Post-Graduation Degree in Accounting and Auditing, David is a statistical analyst at Rocha, Marinho E Sales Advogados, a corporate and litigation law firm with 12 offices and 900 legal professionals throughout Brazil.

Even though the firm has been leveraging data to extract valuable information to its practice for years, they did not have a formal data analytics role until January 2019, when David joined the Knowledge Management and Innovation Team.

David’s primary job responsibilities consist in examining data related to the firm’s more than 250 thousand cases and extracting insights and patterns from it. He is responsible for collecting, organizing and obtaining statistical summaries provided through visualizations and reports.

As the firm has a strong large-scale litigation practice, they need to keep track of key performance indicators (KPIs) that vary from client to client, to help the lawyers deliver the desired results. And they can only do that by monitoring the numbers in real time.

To better perform at this role, David reinforces the importance of developing good communication and presentation skills, as he needs to present his findings in a visually clear and universally understandable way, so that the lawyers can make strategic decisions with them.

Conclusion.

Aside from showing that law firms are already benefiting from having data analysts in their teams, the purpose of this blog post was to demonstrate there is not a standard recipe for implementing these roles, as the background of the professionals, as well as the activities they perform vary according to the type of data the law firm collects and the particularities of the organization they serve.


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