I don’t want to tell anyone how to do their job, particularly when it comes to sales and client service. It’s kind of the antithesis of the business I’m in. But … I will.
Throughout the sessions at Legalweek NYC this week, there was a common theme that stood out so starkly to me, I was compelled to write about it. Over and over again, general counsel and consultants talked about the one thing they were consistently not getting from their outside counsel: data, and more specifically, data analysis.
I honestly thought this was an old trend. For years we’ve been writing about the hiring of pricing directors or, more recently, data scientists, at law firms. But clients don’t feel like they are seeing the fruits of that labor. And perception, of course, is reality.
There are two main buckets of data. There is data on spending and data on matters. Clients want both. On the spending side, Altman Weil’s Rees Morrison talked about a finding in his company’s CLO survey in which nearly 73 percent of chief legal officers said none of their top 10 law firms provides useful data on spending. None!
On the matter side, DHL Supply Chain Americas GC Mark Smolik gave an example of what he wishes law firms would do—and it’s something none of his firms ever has. He suggested a firm might want to look at, say, all of the employment cases emanating out of his California warehouses. Maybe they find that 50 percent of the cases are coming from one warehouse, and one person is the culprit. The GC can then take that information to its business units and work out a solution. It makes the GC look good and it makes the law firm look good to provide that kind of actionable intelligence. Other GCs echoed similar requests during Legalweek’s Business of Law Forum.
There was a suggestion by one panelist that perhaps law firms aren’t incentivized to present those types of data-driven solutions because it could put them out of work, or at least out of some work. The panelist suggested law departments may need to find a way to pay for such advice.
It seems to me that there is a clear opportunity for law firms here to use the data they have to engender trust and kudos—and just maybe some more work—from their clients.