The Evolution of Legal Data Analytics and AI-Based Insights
Legal data analytics allows decision-makers to understand past and future trends within the legal industry, make smarter strategic decisions within their law firms, and improve client service delivery. Unfortunately, accessing and utilizing data can be challenging for firms: The inaugural Survey of Legal Pricing and Project Management — produced by the Legal Value Network and Blickstein Group and created in collaboration with Intapp — revealed that law firm partners either don’t have access to profitability metrics (31%) or don’t factor the data they can access into their decision-making (23%).
Norm Mullock, Vice President of Strategy at Wilson Allen, shared his own insights on the importance of legal data analytics and its impact on firm profitability. Learn how your firm can improve its application of data and see how legal AI-based technology such as OnePlace Operations & Finance can help.
Creating a More Inclusive Analysis Process
Extensive use of legal data analytics can greatly impact firm profitability. In the past, firms would examine their business through a strict performance lens, focusing on metrics around realization, utilization, and rates. In recent years, companies like Wilson Allen have helped firms adopt more inclusive analysis to explore other key metrics, such as those around service delivery and customer engagement.
“We want to figure out what firms are actually doing for their clients,” said Mullock. “What do we do well? How do we work? That sort of information doesn’t make it into the financial system.”
Mullock explained that firms must closely examine fundamental differences in the performance of matters based on work type or matter type. By doing so, firms can determine if one approach is more efficient or profitable compared with another, and revise and improve their processes.
“In terms of time entry, for example, we’re looking for a more qualitative and quantitative understanding of the work that’s being done and whether or not we’re doing it well enough,” Mullock revealed. “We’ve also started the process of playing with things like cognitive services to see what kind of information can be extracted. There may be an opportunity to do some client sentiment analysis as well.”
Gaining Further Insights with Legal AI-Based Technology
To help collect and analyze data, many firms take advantage of advanced technology like OnePlace Operations & Finance. OnePlace Operations & Finance — part of the Intapp OnePlace connected firm management solution — features legal AI technology that automatically analyzes all past engagements by shared characteristics to derive data-validated intelligence that firms can use to improve pricing strategies.
“With its industry cloud, Intapp software offers a tremendous advantage in terms of the connected firm story,” said Mullock. “Intapp software has an unparalleled ability to apply AI tools to data that’s connected across a broader application set.”
Mullock added: “Another part of the Intapp OnePlace solution — Intapp Experience — helps firms draw inferences around the experiences of their lawyers.” Ensuring that the right people work on the right matters is critical to a law firm’s success, as proper staffing ultimately affects client satisfaction, client retention, and firm profitability. Having an experience management system in place also allows firms gain insights into competitive advantages at scale — including request for proposal (RFP) responses and automatic website updates — which firms can then articulate to current and potential clients to win more business.
Despite the benefits of legal AI technology, some firms have yet to fully implement AI-based software simply because they’re unsure whether the tools will work with their specific datasets.
“People recognize the inherent value in letting machines analyze data that’s beyond a human’s ability to interpret,” explained Mullock. “But the assumption, from a traditional legal data analytics standpoint, has always been that the data in the dataset needs to be both complete and correct.”
Jill Nelson, Senior Director of OnePlace Operations & Finance at Intapp, added: “Firms perceive their data to be in poor shape, and they believe legal AI software will never work with their data. Firm leaders think that they have to drastically change processes or wait until they get cleaner data before implementing advanced technology.”
Of course, as Nelson shared, one of the major benefits of deploying AI is that the software can perform data cleansing tasks. OnePlace Operations & Finance, for example, uses Engagement DNA™ to structure, organize, categorize, and tag data so professionals can better analyze information and take appropriate action.
“Firms don’t have to do as much work as they think they do before installing AI software,” said Nelson.
Capitalizing on the Opportunities of Technology
Thanks to Intapp implementation partners like Wilson Allen, firms can move forward with implementing strong legal data analytics frameworks and advanced legal AI technology to intelligently harness their data while taking the important step to the cloud. Wilson Allen works with organizations across the globe to help them align software and draw data from an array of systems. “Every day, we’re helping firms migrate applications to the cloud,” said Mullock.
Although legal AI technology offers numerous benefits for professional services firms, many opportunities exist to improve upon and innovate AI applications.
“There’s an opportunity to present information in terms of the broader firm data ecosystem,” Mullock shared. “In the very near future, there might be a broad extension of the AI model to the HR side of the firm, for example.”
Mullock also emphasized that, although legal AI technology provides firms with key insights, it’s ultimately up to the professionals to make use of those insights. “Data-derived insights only make a difference if somebody does something useful with them,” he said. “Some firms will have the energy to do it themselves, but many will need help from companies like Intapp and its ecosystem of partners, consultants, and executives.”
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