The Legalops Café is an online meetup hosted by Tabled for legal operations professionals looking to network and share insights.
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For September’s session of the Legalops Café, the topic was: “The data driven legal team”.
Special thanks to our guest speaker, Stephanie Stevenson who shared some insights into the data journey her team has been on during her time as Director of Legal Operations at Triplelift.
There are two main drivers behind this:
In-house legal teams are increasingly expected to track and report on their activity and demonstrate how that activity delivers value to the businesses they support. This cannot be done effectively without data.
The best teams and their leaders are looking to continuously improve the quality, efficiency, and experience (for themselves as well as their clients) of the work they do.
Without data, identifying and prioritising which problems and opportunities to focus on is essentially a guessing game.
That same lack of data then makes it difficult to secure support for any resources needed in pursuit of those improvements – whether that be in the form of budget, headcount or technology.
Relatively simple metrics can quickly unlock lots of useful insight.
A good place to start is with workflow data e.g.
At Triplelift, the first commercial lawyer (now GC) first tracked simple volume metrics to secure budget for two additional lawyers.
Tracking where their legal requests were coming from then informed a decision to focus one of those lawyers on a particular stakeholder group who was then able to identify and implement changes that have significantly improved efficiency and stakeholder satisfaction.
Another simple example from the group was around tracking FAQs. One participant shared that, in their legal team, they have a rule that, once they are asked the same question three times, they must produce a self-service resource – such as a guide, article or ‘FAQ’ answer.
If you want your data to drive change, you’ll need to persuade others – be they team members, other colleagues or senior leadership.
The best way to do this is by telling a story.
When crafting your story, Stephanie suggests starting at the end i.e. “What are you trying to achieve? What message are you trying to deliver?” and working backwards from there.
Different groups – and different individuals within those groups – will have their own preferences in terms of how they like data to be presented. Some want charts. Others want narrative. Some want chapter and verse. Others want bullets.
Not sure which camp your audience falls into? Follow Stephanie’s simple tip: ask them!
It is worth getting buy-in for an intake and matter management tool to quickly capture comprehensive and insightful data without relying on manual input or analysis.
Another tip Stephanie had was to think about what sources of data you might already have. For example, at Triplelift, Stephanie was able to demonstrate how time spent updating and improving their Master Services Agreement (MSA) template resulted in faster turnaround times by using their e-signature software to track what percentage of MSAs were negotiated vs being signed via clickwrap.
The value of legal data goes beyond just managing and optimizing the legal function.
For example, at Triplelift, Stephanie has been working closely with the revenue operations team to help improve forecasting.
As owners of the contracting process, the legal team is often well-placed to get an objective view of how close deals are to closing.
By combining this with data from the contracts themselves (e.g. contract value), legal can help the revops team to get a reliable and objective handle on forecasting.
In turn, this collaboration with revops also helps the legal team to identify which matters to prioritise, so that legal’s efforts are better aligned with the revenue goals of the wider business.
While few, if any, in-house teams would dispute the case for becoming more data-driven, many fear that getting there must be complex, time-consuming, and expensive.
This leads many to delay starting – or to assume that the only feasible way to start is by to do it manually e.g. on a spreadsheet.
However, Tabled has helped many in-house legal teams to start collecting and using useful data – within their teams and across their businesses – from Day 1.
The platform also includes client self-service functionality such as FAQs and contract automation to drive efficiency once data has identified areas that can be streamlined and handed off to clients.