Capturing Data in Legal Services
In Part 1 of the article series about Matters.Cloud, InvestCEE consultant Chuck Henrich explained that data security of legal practice management platforms deserves as much attention as usability and feature sets. In Part 2, we highlighted key questions to consider when investing into a legal practice management tool — from the perspective of solo lawyers and small to mid-size law firms. In this Part 3 of the article series, we share insights about doing legal business differently by capturing value beyond reference to time units.
To measure value of legal services more accurately, lawyers need to capture all sorts of data in their processes — both internal and client-facing workstreams. A carefully crafted practice management platform enables lawyers to more efficiently structure their matters and capture qualitative and quantitative metrics of legal services. We found that the client- and matter-specific data fields developed by Matters.Cloud enable lawyers to better demonstrate the added-value of their legal services.
InvestCEE insight #4: To make the most of data analytics, each legal team should have an internal list of metrics to track in their work processes — adapted to the dynamics and working style of each team.
Guidelines for Data-driven Legal Services
While we believe that capturing workflow data should be aligned with the specific working routines of each legal team, there are some general guidelines that may be helpful to all lawyers across the private practice spectrum.
To inspire for more data-driven legal services, we have come up with a non-exhaustive list of metrics and looked at how Matters.Cloud enabled capturing data in each of the below areas:
- Resource/capacity allocation: what type of legal work the team is doing, and who is performing the work for which client.
Matters.Cloud labels and organizes functions via a clean, lean, configurable dashboard that surfaces key performance indicators (KPIs) out of the box. KPIs in legal services context include time and resource expenditures, billing, profitability — metrics that enable visibility on the business of law. An intuitive, user-friendly dashboard helps changes lawyers’ perspective on data-driven legal service delivery.
- Business efficiency: track opportunities, ongoing matters and number of projects closed.
Matters.Cloud’s enables lawyers to track the valuable work it takes to land a new client or matter, and to leverage the information gathered pre-engagement. Business intelligence starts at the opportunity stage: the “Opportunity” view in Matters.Cloud allows lawyers to record data and measure all work invested to win an engagement, then convert that opportunity to a live matter, capture ongoing workflow data, and keep track of data recorded for each completed task and project.
- Operational efficiency: track project plans, tasks and milestones.
Matters.Cloud allows lawyers to break down each matter into phases and tasks, including recording of the estimated time required to deliver. Essentially this acts as a checklist helping to guide the lawyer through the case and assisting them when keeping the client up to date on progress.
- Client relationship management: keep safe and track client information for delivering an excellent client service.
Bringing together aspects typically associated with a separate CRM software, Matters.Cloud allows law firms to capture notes, tasks, opportunities and documents. This feature helps solo lawyers and small to mid-size firms focus on delivering an excellent customer experience.
- Budget and pricing: track value creation for specific workstreams or projects.
Matters.Cloud enables applying estimates to each phase of legal service delivery to help determine the correct approach to pricing. This approach allows lawyers to understand the impact of adopting a fixed price for delivery of the work.
Matters.Cloud also makes it easy to raise invoices for non-time based work allowing a fee for delivery of a service to be added in a few clicks.
For firms using a combination of hourly and fixed fees, Matters.Cloud allows for specific activity level rates rather than the traditional approach of rates for each person. This allows repetitive tasks that have a lower value to be priced accordingly. Something that is particularly important for smaller practices where an experience lawyer may undertake different aspects of the work.
Firms considering adopting a subscription approach to delivery of legal services, can measure the time spent by setting their time entry to ‘under contract’ rather than billable, helping them to understand the costs associated with delivering the subscription services.
- Internal deadlines: track how long a client request sits with the project team or is awaiting approval.
Matters.Cloud allows lawyers to record internal deadlines under the “Tasks” functionality. The “Tasks” timeline view which provides everyone within the firm with details of upcoming internal deadlines. It also lists categorized tasks and statuses and allows easy export for internal reporting purposes.
- External deadlines: track internal performance against client or institutional schedules.
With Matters.Cloud, lawyers can record external deadlines under the “Tasks” or “Appointment” tabs. This enables visibility within the team for all upcoming external deadlines. Similarly to tracking internal deadlines, Matters.Cloud helps categorize client-facing tasks and statuses and ensures visual reporting for law firms’ internal meetings.
- Preliminary risk rating: estimate risk levels undertaken with certain types of legal work or projects.
Matters.Cloud allows lawyers to configure and customize project-specific data fields to capture risk and compliance information, helping to automate the process and reduce risk of non compliance.
- Subsequent risk analysis: track the number and outcome of legal and business risks mitigated by the legal team, value of fines, settlements, etc.
Matters.Cloud provides an easily extendable data structure that allows lawyers to capture matter-specific data points such as mitigated risks, case outcomes etc. to be recorded against each matter for subsequent analysis.