Law department analytics survey reports

The rise of data analytics has in the past decade substantially impacted how businesses operate and provide services. The legal industry, on the other hand, has been much slower to adopt analytics than other verticals. That is beginning to change, as interest and investment grows in legal organizations.

Corporate law departments are increasingly embracing data science as a strategic lever for more effectively measuring, managing and reporting on their business performance. Though analytics is still relatively new to law departments and their service providers, leading organizations have begun to use data more creatively, beyond basic financial reporting. Law departments are pursuing new use cases, but there is still a vast reservoir of untapped potential for analytics within the legal environment.

To help benchmark progress and gauge the state of data analytics programs within corporate law departments, HBR conducted “flash surveys” at a series of Law Department Roundtables in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and San Jose (hosted in connection with reports on HBR’s 15th Annual Law Department Survey).

The flash survey includes questions related to the internal strategy, maturity, use and staffing of data analytics within corporate legal operations. The survey was intentionally biased toward practice-oriented analytics, as opposed to financial or spend analytics. Practice analytics refers to the application of quantitative methods to the practice of law itself. The use of practice analytics is a signal of sophistication, likely indicating that a corporate law department uses data for factor analysis, for quantitative risk assessment, and to influence legal strategy.

The survey results reflected the following key findings, discussed more fully below: 

  1. Data science and analytics are an increasing priority for corporate law departments
  2. Law departments have begun to use data to substantively evaluate the performance of their outside counsel.
  3. Law departments use both dedicated resources and shared staff for their analytics initiatives.
  4. Law departments are beginning to shift their analytics focus from primarily reporting metrics and descriptive analytics to more complex, higher-value applications, including practice analytics.

Read the full survey above.

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