What is legal metrics?
A special project by a progressive group of law firms, law companies, legal departments, and other legal leaders to agree, visualize, and share the legal industry metrics that define efficiency and value as well as good working relationships and citizenship. The resulting dashboards and competitive intelligence help inform legal buying decisions, highlight those who have made meaningful improvements, and ease the burden of compiling and finding meaningful metrics.
What are the objectives? How will it provide value?
Legal Metrics is helping the companies who provide legal services to corporate legal departments speak their language, focus on the same priorities, and have a shared perspective. And legal departments can better understand when firms make improvements in the areas that matter to them.
Objective 1: Help law firms and other legal service providers see themselves as their clients already see them. Via private dashboards, help law firm leaders to:
- Have visibility for how the firm compares to existing industry metrics and its peers, initially in relation to diversity and pro bono, then a full range of legal ops metrics
- Relieve the heavy burden of manually calculating (if they are calculated at all) non-financial metrics, therefore allowing monthly visual trending and benchmarking, deeper dives into what parts of the firm affect the metrics, and greater awareness for partners and leaders overall
- Understand the clients’ objective and subjective perspectives of them, including the non-financial metrics that influence legal buying decisions
Objective 2: Help legal departments automate the collection and visualization of legal ops metrics and benchmarks, both their own and those of their providers. Help legal departments share the metrics and benchmarks with their law firms where they wish to do so and, optionally, receive desired metrics from their law firms (if they wish to share certain metrics, no PII of course
Objective 3: Engage with other industry leaders to agree and standardize legal operational metrics. Work closely with other viewpoints to prioritize and calculate other metrics that define excellence in legal services.
(While ‘law firm’ is used above for brevity, this equally applies to law companies, ALSPs, Big 4, and others)
Who is participating? Who can participate?
In February 2020, 17 law firms and 5 legal departments were participating as a review panel, plus input from various industry specialty experts. By May 2020, this has expanded to over 100 Participants and continues to grow. Two CLOC Board members, Christine Coats, VP Legal Operations of Oracle, and Mary O’Carroll, Director of Legal Ops of Google, are also helping support the guidance and initiative. See www.legalmetrics.com/participants-page for a more complete list.
Any legal services provider (law firm, law company, Big 4, eDiscovery provider, et al), legal department, or industry expert is welcome to participate if they are willing to provide substantive feedback and, when ready, participate in alpha or beta pilots. Send an email to email@example.com to indicate your interest. We are also talking to software and data providers to complement their existing services and provide more value to their clients.
What is the status?
In early 2020, we were in the initial design stage so established www.legalmetrics.com as a private demo and review site for mockups of the first dashboards. We designed dashboards of various types of metrics, based on about 20 dashboard examples from CLOC members, Winston & Strawn’s internal charts, and metrics Winston & Strawn has been asked for via client RFIs (all numbers have been changed for confidentiality, of course).
We created our first working dashboards and demonstrated them at a LawVision workshop in February. Now, we are in the midst of designing and building the data model and software, including local metrics calculators for each firm. The fully functioning “Alpha Demo” is focused on the automation of a legal department’s diversity program (including its panel firms), and it will be complete in June. We had planned to demonstrate the working system at the CLOC Institute but since it was canceled we will produce a series of videos for the Participants to gain feedback.
What metrics will Legal Metrics show?
We decided to start with a focus on diversity and inclusion (D&I) for many good reasons – D&I matters to legal department leadership, there are many clear benchmarks, it’s manually calculated just annually in many cases (and in many custom ways for RFIs), and law firms who make investments in this area want their results to be known.
We surveyed our Participants to ensure we prioritize and focus appropriately. Beyond diversity, we have identified metrics such as:
- Legal operational metrics (e.g., time to matter completion, budget accuracy, spend over time, billing time, etc.)
- Post-matter survey feedback, both objective and subjective criteria
- Pro bono engagement
- Net promoter score feedback
Our firm doesn’t share diversity or legal ops data internally. Can we limit who sees the information internally?
Yes, each firm can choose how much or how little to share each of the dashboards internally. For example, a firm could select that the diversity dashboards can be seen only by the firm’s Diversity leadership. Or a firm could configure it such that a practice leader can see dashboards for the entire practice, while sub-practice leaders can only see the dashboards relevant for their sub-practice. No personally identifiable information (PII) can be shared – the dashboards only have metrics. If a metric has too small of a basis for calculation, it will not be shown (which is standard practice across existing industry reports).
Diversity and other personally identifiable information (PII) is risky to share. Why should Legal Metrics be trusted? Does it use the cloud?
Most importantly, Legal Metrics doesn’t store or share any PII. The system has two parts:
Local Metrics Calculator:
- Automatic Metrics Calculator: It assesses a firm’s data to create metrics to the exact calculations required by bodies (ABA, NALP, etc.), clients, or internal needs, but does not store the individual data or combine it with any other firm’s or department’s data. The Calculator is customized to each firm, to match its existing data model and reporting needs.
- Or, Manual Input: It takes time to customize Automatic Metrics Calculators for each firm (and some firms may not wish for metrics to be automatically created), so manual input will also be possible – just like existing survey input.
The dashboards receive only the completed metrics, no PII. The dashboards are hosted by a specialized secure data service. Even a data breach would yield no PII since it (a) never has raw, personal data, (b) obfuscates firm names and other information, and (c) is stored in encrypted form.
For both functions, Legal Metrics will use existing data control systems that already meet appropriate certifications, regulations, and encryption requirements.
The system and data architecture designs are still underway so the above answers will be updated to reflect the final designs.
Microsoft is providing the dashboard visualizations via Microsoft BI Embedded. For legal departments who use matter management systems like Mitratech’s TeamConnect and HBR Consulting’s Counsel Command , we plan to integrate directly with these dashboards if desired.
Where is Legal Metrics getting the data for metrics?
Firms can manually provide metrics data, like a survey form. Or if data will be automatically calculated, data in the firm’s HR system, financial system, pro bono system, Affirmative Action reporting system, and/or its data warehouse will be analyzed (but not copied or saved). While the metrics could be manually provided, a big benefit of Legal Metrics is that it is able to create the metrics automatically without the manual work currently necessary for surveys, client RFIs, and internal reporting.
Data from legal departments would come from their existing accounting, matter management, or other reporting tool (which requires less effort and provides more frequent results) – or manual input.
Why would our firm share metrics with people outside of the firm?
Firms already share many metrics with industry survey and benchmark organizations (ABA, Am Law, NALP, Chambers, Vault, etc.) and clients and potential clients in terms of RFIs, pitches, and annual audits. Legal Metrics can provide three improvements to the sharing status quo:
- Automate the manual: Automatically rather than manually create the survey responses and metrics that are already shared, in compliance with each requestor’s definitions and calculations. Just in the area of diversity, it has been estimated that a firm spends 200-400 hours of time performing manual calculations and reporting.
- Enhance clients’ existing dashboards: Share metrics and awards with clients’ dashboards rather than the old-fashioned emailing of PDF’d information
- Have a common language with clients: Calculate and share emerging legal ops metrics that aren’t often shared today, but legal departments consider important to their decisions.
Can all legal departments see our metrics?
No, no sharing is enabled by default. Sharing requires a double opt-in model, whereby the legal department requests to see certain metrics relevant to them, and the law firm approves the provision of this information. Or vice versa, where a firm makes certain metrics (or award, recognitions, strategic information) available to clients or potential clients and the legal department chooses what it wishes to receive. All sharing is explicit and obvious.
Do all firms/departments see the same charts?
No, each firm and department has the ability to select what existing dashboards are important to them and who can view them. This a simple capability that does not require assistance from IT. And each can add new metrics and dashboards that match their custom needs. For example, Winston & Strawn has defined three types of charts for itself in Legal Metrics:
- Internal reports the firm was previously creating manually
- Charts that match the exact expectations of the firm’s key clients, with trending over time added
- Standard charts and metrics, as already defined by industry groups
How often is data updated?
The frequency of updates is:
- Monthly month-end snapshots (which includes year-end snapshots)
- As-needed or custom dates
The ability to automatically calculate metrics is a big value here since the burden of manual calculations has made metrics reporting a challenging compliance hurdle, while automatically monthly reporting keeps the focus on awareness, trends, and impact on a more real-time basis.
Do clients and law firms really share all the information shown on the mockup dashboards?
Many charts we’ve initially drafted on www.legalmetrics.com are to invoke feedback, even though some show information that isn’t yet generally shared. On the Client Profiles page, there are three tabs and the last one is feedback from the legal department’s internal surveys. While these surveys are increasingly common to conduct, this optimistically assumes a legal department will share this information privately with the firms who work for them. The charts show what’s possible and what some legal departments are already sharing in more manual ways.
Winston & Strawn, for example, interviews dozens of top clients each year and asks net promoter score information. So, Winston & Strawn does have the information on some but not all clients. A planned function of Legal Metrics is to allow legal departments to simply answer a net promoter score question via Legal Metrics once per year or simply accept the information from their existing matter management system. For an example of a metrics trend setter, Elevate Services has already published many of their metrics publicly: https://expertise.elevateservices.com/post/102g4m5/steady-as-she-goes-full-steam-ahead