Law Firm and Legal Department Collaboration: Data Driving Initiatives

By Ricky Brooman posted 08-17-2017 15:29


ILTACON 2017 was rich with new, creative approaches to law firm and legal department collaboration, and the application of technology to solve problems and drive progress.  I attended a number of sessions including the following that stood out:

  1. Keynote: Innovate or Die Trying: From the Mind of a World-Renowned Hacker - Pablos Holman (Intellectual Ventures Laboratory)
  2. Being Data-Driven: Exploring the Evolution of Legal Technology Trends using Advanced Analytics Todd Corham (Saul Ewing), Megan Beauchemin (InOutSource), David Walton (Cozen O’Connor)
  3. Collaboration: Improving the Client’s Experience - Dan Hauck (ThreadKM), Teresa Britton (Exelon), Jack Thompson (Sanofi), Jason Barnwell (Microsoft)
  4. Big Data and Little Data Are Smarter Together! -  Brett Tarr (Caesars Entertainment), John Metz (PNC Bank), Heather Brock (Buchanan), Noah Waisberg (Kira Systems)
  5. Transforming the Business of Law with Cognitive Computing: Watson Legal - Shawnaa Hoffman (IBM); Brian Kuhn (IBM)

Both law firms and legal departments have macro goals and initiatives - enhance security, increase diversity, reduce spend, grow in new markets, data-driven business decisions, etc.  Collaborating and sharing data between law firm and legal departments facilitates growth toward these initiatives: your initiatives.  It’s a symbiotic relationship with common data, and sharing it moves the needle forward.

How do you determine what data is important to capture and share?  Start the conversation and be a good listener.  Ask the pertinent questions and uncover the pain points.  That's how you expose what initiatives to tackle, and what data to capture and share.  Collaboration is bred and sustained by communication.

To generate value, you have to be different and unique.  You need to be creative and ready to try something new.  As discussed in the Big Data and Little Data Are Smarter Together! session, law firms spend a lot of money creating content for their clients, most of which isn’t used or provides little value.  Why?  Because everyone is doing the same mundane stuff.  Shift that energy toward innovative, value-added services that solve real business problems.  Stand out among the competition by using data and technology to innovate and drive progress.  Collaborate to foster this relationship and cultivate the partnership to succeed.

Let’s look at a few fruitful collaboration initiatives highlighted at conference:

  • Budgets - Share data to create budgets and manage expectations.
  • Reduce spend - Collaborate on data analytics and machine learning tools to reduce legal spend, free time, and drive volume.  Law departments benefit from reduced spend, while law firms benefit from more time practicing law and focusing on business development.
  • Predictability - Use your data to predict outcomes, legal spend, staffing requirements, etc.  Collaborate for tomorrow’s matter.
  • Transparency - Share data to remove uncertainty and break-down silos, reinforcing collaboration and facilitating a health feedback loop.
  • Billing - Relieve the inefficiencies of invoice review by using technology to analyze and normalize billing data (e.g., time entry narratives).
  • Security - Use data about data to identify threats and reduce risk exposure and liability (e.g., where is data, how is it being transferred, what does IG look like around the data, etc.)
  • Diversity - Share data to track diversity among internal and external teams.  Pay it forward to others looking to define diversity initiatives at their law firm or department (PNC and Buchanan diversity initiative using TyMetrix).

Once we grasp the complementary nature of law firm and legal department data, we can appreciate the benefits of collaboration and transparency.  It’s not hard, but it requires effort.  It requires innovative projects that question the status quo and lead to investment in new initiatives.  The initiatives can be big or small, the practice of law or the business of law - it doesn't matter, just start somewhere.  Find ways you can share data, leverage technology, collaborate, and be creative!

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to fail.  Not every initiative will be a success, but the ones that do will have an ROI that makes up for the failures.  Look at Pablos - every company he has ever worked for doesn’t exist anymore and 99.9% of his projects fail, yet he’s eradicating Malaria with mosquito-zapping laser beams and battling the spread of germs with self-sterilizing elevator buttons.  Put yourself out there, test the waters, and push the law firm-legal department relationship outside your comfort zone.  If you fail, you will learn something and increase the chances of success on your next initiative.