On the first day of InsideCounsel’s SuperConference, experts provided strategies for effectively deploying technology within legal departments, on a panel called “Using Technology To Enhance Law Department Management”

In-house counsel have a slew of products and vendors to choose from, whether they’re looking for matter management software, e-billing capabilities or e-discovery tools. But before investing in costly technology, lawyers must identify the unique needs and challenges of their legal departments, advised Pamela Woldow, partner and general counsel of Edge International.*

Technology use should flow from those concerns. “Technology is the tail on the dog,” Woldow said. “A lot of vendors treat it like it’s the dog, but it’s not.”

Of course, generating meaningful metrics via technology requires both internal and external buy-in. David Cambria, senior director of enterprise information management at CDW Corp., advises in-house attorneys to align the company’s legal and business tools.

Effective technology use also involves consistent, meaningful data collection, experts said. That means accurately tagging matters, eliminating outliers and, oftentimes, asking outside providers for assistance when generating metrics. “There is no magic metric,” Cambria said. “It’s really a collection of a lot of different metrics that tell the whole story.”

And the process doesn’t end once a company installs a new technology, noted Mike McGuire, corporate in-house counsel at Axiom, who said that he has seen initially successful data collection programs fall apart within a year or two of implementation.

Companies can guard against this decline by ensuring that business partners, law firms and inside counsel remain committed to generating useable data. “Be consistent, look for what you’re going to drive towards and then don’t stop there,” McGuire said.

*An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Pamela Woldow is a partner and general counsel of Axiom.

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