Leveraging Outside Counsel Data
Leveraging Outside Counsel Data

Leveraging Outside Counsel Data: Moving Beyond Collection to Action

Lauren Burnside |

Transforming Insights into Action for Strategic Legal Operations

It’s been a busy few months in legal ops, and our Mitratech team has had the pleasure to be in person at a number of industry events, including ALM’s Legalweek, Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), and our very own Annual User Conference and Tech Expo, Interact 2024.

Across all of these gatherings and sessions, one key takeaway continued to pop up in conversation: you can’t just collect your data – you have to use it! We’ve gathered the top insights to explore why harnessing this data is crucial, what type of information is most valuable, and how in-house teams can optimize its utilization to move forward with more strategic decision-making.

The Importance of Utilizing Outside Counsel Data

Effective decision-making and profitability are at the heart of leveraging outside counsel data. By tapping into the insights gleaned from their interactions with external legal partners, in-house teams can gain valuable perspectives on performance, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. This data-driven approach not only provides organizations with ample information, but also deciphers which information is relevant to each use case.

Beyond firm rates, regional coverage, subject matter areas, etc., some data worth considering when evaluating a firm for an incumbent spot or solving a new matter include:

  • Who would be the firm staff on this matter?
  • In disputes, does the proposed team have connections with the court and/or opposing counsel?
  • What is the firm’s fee estimate, and what assumptions underpin it?
  • How many of the timekeepers are from historically underrepresented groups?
  • & more!

In turn, organizations are empowered to make more informed decisions, allocate resources judiciously, and optimize their legal operations. Most importantly, they can optimize their outside counsel relationships for better value, diversity, and long-lasting performance.

Understanding the Types of Outside Counsel Data

Outside counsel data encompasses a wide range of information generated throughout the course of legal engagements. Two primary categories to consider are:

Baseline Data

This includes essential information about the services provided, such as:

  • Hours billed
  • Matter description
  • Legal fees incurred

Baseline data offers insights into the scope and nature of legal work undertaken by outside counsel, allowing in-house teams to assess performance and track expenditures.

Qualitative and Relationship Data

Beyond objective metrics, qualitative and relationship data provide valuable insights into the quality of service, communication effectiveness, and client satisfaction. This may include:

  • Feedback surveys
  • Performance reviews
  • Client testimonials

The benefit here is gathering a more nuanced understanding of the client-counsel relationship.

Understanding the difference between baseline and qualitative & relationship data is crucial as it allows in-house teams to comprehensively evaluate both the quantitative metrics and the qualitative aspects of their legal engagements, leading to more informed and balanced decision-making.

Determining Data Relevance and Priorities

Not all data points are equally valuable, and in-house teams must prioritize collecting information that aligns with their strategic objectives. So often, we see legal teams collecting any and all data, leaving them with a pit of information that they have to spend time and resources looking through to decipher what is relevant or helpful to the organization. By identifying key questions and stakeholders, teams can focus their efforts on gathering data that will drive meaningful insights and support decision-making processes.

When determining relevance of data, it is first important to consider what questions are you looking to answer and who will be working with the data provided. This helps to avoid irrelevant data and excess time spent going through a surplus of data points.

Elevating Efficiency and Collaboration in Outside Counsel Data Management

Once collected, outside counsel data can be leveraged to enhance operational efficiency and foster collaboration between in-house teams and external partners. By analyzing trends, identifying areas for improvement, and sharing feedback constructively, organizations can optimize their legal workflows and drive mutual success.

Justin Silverman, SVP, Product Strategy and PM at Mitratech, recently joined Micron Technology‘s Nathan Miller and Mary M. Jummati, Managing Director at Morae, for a Legalweek discussion on just how those actionable analytics can help drive better legal decision-making.

This is especially important given today’s macroeconomic headwinds, where firms are facing flat budgets, rising rates, hiring freezes, etc, while also seeing the number of matters they are handling increase.

They need information like:

  • Why did we go over budget?
  • Why did we go to trial?
  • How many invoices sat with each attorney?

Beyond having a strategy in place to ensure the completeness and accuracy of your data, this expert panel dove deep into how to establish aligned business objectives and tie metrics to those goals. Fast forward to CLOC in Las Vegas where experts continued the conversation with a session “Don’t Just Collect It – Use It! A Primer on Outside Counsel Data for In-House Teams”. The conversation detailed how we can make the most of this complete and accurate data for the purpose of decision making.

Moving Towards Data-Driven Decision-Making

The ultimate goal of leveraging outside counsel data is to inform strategic decision-making and drive positive outcomes for the organization. By adopting a data-driven approach, in-house teams can gain a competitive edge, mitigate risks, and optimize their legal spend effectively.

By understanding the types of data available, determining relevance, and fostering collaboration, organizations can unlock the full potential of their external legal engagements and achieve greater efficiency and transparency in their legal operations. So, let’s heed the advice from some of this year’s top legal ops events: don’t just collect it – use it!

Our focus? On your success.

Schedule a demo, or learn more about Mitratech’s products, services, and commitment.