Dashboarding for Better Legal Operations

First Reviewed : April 30, 2019
Last Reviewed: April 30, 2019

For an objective overview of the goings-on of your legal department

Dashboards don’t just offer you a pretty picture of your legal department’s projects and the way they are being managed. They also provide critical metrics and that elusive business intelligence that could help you achieve operational success. Ask the legal department of a Fortune 500 company that turned the management of its board meetings around with a customized dashboard. 

Especially since 2018, many legal departments have acknowledged that they need dashboards for better legal analytics and operations. There happen to be plenty of dashboard-providers on the market that promise to help you solve all your departmental problems but that doesn’t demystify that science of dashboarding.

You’re Not Alone

The 2018 Consero Legal Operations Forum, Dashboards & Portals: Leveraging Existing Operational Investments for Greater Returns, which had in attendance legal operations professionals and lawyers from over 80 companies in the US, chose “Dashboards + Legal Analytics” as the number one legal operations topic. In fact, 53 percent of the respondents said they were very excited about dashboarding and that data and dashboards were their “jam” while 40 percent said it would help improve their operations. Alas, 75 percent of the same respondents believed their own dashboards to be undeveloped/developing and inefficient[1]

A Dashboard That’s Just Right For You

Considering dashboards can offer you, on a platter, actionable insights with which you can transform your legal operations, how can you go about creating a dashboard that’s “just right” for your legal department? It is after all a time-consuming process to decide what data is valuable for you to monitor regularly, how this data needs to be presented so it doesn’t confuse the reader while not having to forego valuable metrics, and how often this data needs to be updated.

Choosing Your Data

Your dashboard is only as strong as the data it absorbs and showcases (good data = better decisions). No legal dashboard can be ready-made – you need to sort through all the inventories of data you own to decide what is required on your dashboard. How experts suggest you do this is evaluate all your platforms and rank them based on the importance of the data they hold as well as the feasibility of pulling this data onto your dashboard[2]. Different data is important to different users, and this is something you may have to take into consideration.

Some of the top metrics that legal departments around the country are focusing on are[3]:

  1. The number of open matters, their stage and status (by matter type/category)
  2. Assigned matters by staff member and firm for resource allocation and optimization over time and
  3. Year-to-date legal spend and legal spend by matter type, to enable over year-over-year reduction of overall spend.

Besides being able to present these KPIs, dashboards help legal departments answer critical questions such as whether they are deriving the best value from their work, whether they are doing better than before, and which outside counsel firms they are benefiting from and to what degree3.

Choosing Your Frequency

Having impressive data does no good if your dashboard is stagnant. Live information feeds and frequent updating of data is required for you to understand what changes you need to make to your processes and projects, while they are still in progress. It would be best to allocate one resource purely to ensure that your dashboards get the most current data from their various sources, at least on a weekly basis. A dashboard that is truly centralized and up-to-date can work wonders for your legal operations – particularly legal spend, contract management, general compliance, headcount, training, project management, and subscription usage.2

Achieving The Perfect Dashboard

An average dashboard must have capabilities such as real-time data updates, delivery of reports directly to your inbox, availability of multiple chart types, reporting interfaces and custom views, and data export for offline review[4]. Ideally, a quick glimpse at your dashboard should allow you to procure a basic understanding of your data points. Your dashboard should present a visual story with many perspectives and have drilldown capacity[5].

A dynamic dashboard is a good dashboard. Your dashboard will need continuous tweaks2 since it’s inevitable that the data you choose and the way you decide to display it will change over time. You will notice, and so will your legal operations. With vital insights into your legal department, your dashboards will help you maximize on your operational investments.

LegalEase Solutions provides innovative and data-driven support with Contract Lifecycle Management, compliance, document review, legal intelligence, on-demand legal operations/legal consulting, and legal research. We specialize in setting up customized dashboards for corporate legal departments and law firms. With over 14 years of expertise, our team functions as an extension to legal departments and ensures that their processes and resources are up to date with their needs.

[1] http://blog.hbrconsulting.com/dashboards-game-changer-for-legal-operations

[2] https://www.law.com/almID/53ca6f92160ba07f576b7a85/

[3] https://www.mitratech.com/resource-hub/blog/7-essentials-legal-operations-optimization-part-one/

[4] https://thinksmart.com/legal-operations-analytics/

[5] https://ccbjournal.com/articles/driving-your-department-dashboards-improve-reporting-and-performance

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