Creating a Data Culture:


Over the last year, it has become evident that becoming data-driven is no longer an innovative goal or strategy for a law firm. It has become a requirement. If firms want to use artificial intelligence, automated intelligence, and data visualization tools (to name a few), the first step is to get their data “house” in order.


The amount of data created by a law firm has been referred to as the “exhaust.” This means that the data is a byproduct of the legal work performed for clients. Billing notes, documents, new business intake forms, conflicts, docketing, awards, rankings, etc. all contribute to the “exhaust.” What isn’t always realized is that all these items create data that can be converted into actionable insights. Law firms can use these insights to better target new clients, anticipate the needs of current clients, create superior and mutually-beneficial pricing proposals, and increase revenue.


Because this data has always been considered a byproduct of law firms instead of a strategic focus, firms haven’t always been concerned with data hygiene. The same data is often collected in multiple places, but stored differently. Knowing this raises some questions. How can leaders facilitate a shift in perception about this data within the firm? How can this data be gathered, synthesized, analyzed, and used to lead business growth?


The first step is for leaders to identify the direction the law firm is trying to go. Strategies and goals must be analyzed. This will help distinguish what data to prioritize. Once priorities are in place, creating a culture around data can begin. Explaining to the firm departments about how this data culture will benefit them and make their jobs easier is important. Speaking with individual departments will also help discover inconsistent naming conventions, data that is easy to access, data that is harder to access, any data policies currently in place, etc.


Once the relationships between each department and data are established, it is easier to collaborate with other departments to create a cross-functional working group to capture the data. Creating a data hub is the optimum way to establish best practices for sharing responsibilities for the care and feeding of the new data system.


The final step in creating a culture of data is tracking and measuring against strategies and goals. It is important to set aside time every so often to review and reconsider if the right data is still being tracked and measured. As law firm grow and change, strategies can evolve. What doesn’t change is the process of managing data throughout the firm and being a data-driven organization.


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