Tag Archives: eDiscovery for Corporate

Legal Operations and KPIs: Where to Start

Legal Operations and KPIs

Legal Operations and KPIs: Where to Start
Written by Jim Gill, Content Chief, Ipro

In a recent Above the Law article, Mike Quartararo, President of ACEDS, said, “You want to know why the billable hour is so entrenched and not going anywhere any time soon? It’s because it provides a direct, measurable metric or benchmark for the value of a lawyer to a law firm.” But it seems the billable hour is pretty much where it stops – for now – when it comes to KPIs. He continues, “Few, if any, firms are tracking the type of work, and none that I’m aware of are looking at the quality of the work (at least not in any systematic way).”

In parallel, tracking and measuring outside legal spend becomes the standard KPI for corporate in-house legal teams. But if this is the only metric, then the legal department will more than likely remain a cost center for the organization. They may reduce outside legal spend, possibly by using technology to cull data sent for outside review or by bringing other tasks in-house, but until a priority is put on setting clear objectives with trackable and measurable outcomes, progress will be the result of trial and error.

Alignment between Legal Ops and the Legal Department

A first step in setting KPIs for a legal ops manager is to identify all of the key practice areas (contracts, M&A, internal investigations, eDiscovery, etc.) within the organization and work with the General Counsel to establish goals for each of these areas, then create KPIs around those goals. Each organization will have different priorities and opportunities in different areas, so determining what these are up front will avoid headaches later.

Data Availability and Data Integrity

Once goals are in place, you then need to determine what data is needed in order to measure them, find out if that data already exists within the organization, and who owns the data (it may live outside of the legal department).

A few examples legal ops managers might look for:

  • E-Billing
  • Number of outside firms and service providers under contract
  • Number of matters currently underway or that took place in previous years
  • Average spend per matter
  • Common key custodians
  • Data types across the organization and processes needed to retrieve it
  • Cost per stage of the EDRM (governance, legal hold, preservation, collection, processing, review)
  • Software and other technology currently in use by the legal department and its value

After an inventory is complete, partner with data creators to evaluate any obstacles to begin tracking data against objectives.

Align KPIs with Overall Business Objectives

The legal department can be an island of sorts in the middle of a corporation. Aligning legal operations goals and KPIs with larger company-wide objectives can lead to important gains in ways that may have been overlooked at first. For example, if one of the main goals of the company is diversity and inclusion, then KPIs should be established to determine how the legal department aligns with this overall objective. This may begin with tracking the size and demographics of the legal team itself, hiring practices, wages and pay equity, along with other aspects of the legal department that are needed to benchmark against the overall business objective.

Communications

There is no denying that communication (or the lack thereof) can be an obstacle when it comes to reaching objectives. One main issue is that so many of the stakeholders involved with the legal department communicate in very different ways. Which is why it’s helpful to find a “translator” who can bridge the gap between Legal, IT, and other business units to help identify obstacles to communication that may be getting in the way of tracking KPIs. Once this is established, regular meetings or check-ins may be needed to clarify any issues between those stakeholders which may arise as a result of measuring KPIs.

Conclusion

Some aspects of a successful team aren’t measurable, but many of them are. First, you need to take the time to understand the departmental and organizational goals and then begin benchmarking the current state of things. Once that benchmark is established and tracking performance against that benchmark becomes standard, it may be surprising how many opportunities for improvement will become clear, or how goals may be revised based on data that was unknown until tracking began. After all, ignorance may be bliss, but knowledge is power.

 

Find out how Ipro empowers internal and external legal teams to effortlessly collaborate while reducing costs without sacrificing data security and defensibility.

New Study Shows In-House Legal as Strategic Enterprise Partners

In-House Legal enterprise partners

New Study Shows In-House Legal as Strategic Enterprise Partners

In a recent stat-filled infographic, General Counsel: From Lawyers to Strategic Partners (released by Raconteur with data from Walters Kluwer), large shifts with in-house corporate legal teams are showing from as recently as two years ago.

One of the main changes is in-house legal departments are becoming valued partners within large enterprises and are increasingly being called upon for their input on business decisions. From data privacy management to regulatory risk mitigation, general counsels now provide a host of vital services for companies to compete in today’s uncertain business environment.

For example, in 2017 the biggest priority for corporate legal departments was improving internal efficiency. This year’s respondents overwhelmingly said that adding to the business and becoming a strategic business partner was their main priority. This is probably a result of the C-Suite seeing the legal department’s ability to bring significant strategic and economic impact to the company as a whole through the use of technology.

Another big arena of change was the priority of data security and data privacy shifting away from in-house legal teams in 2019. This isn’t to say that data management is no longer a priority for companies as a whole but could be a result of more and more corporations creating separate departments focused solely on data, allowing legal to focus on risk mitigation, internal investigations, and compliance.

But even with the growth of in-house legal, only 14% of eDiscovery work was done internally, with the rest being outsourced to traditional or specialist law firms or to alternative legal services providers (ALSP). As companies continue putting a focus on how legal teams can contribute more to business needs overall, this could be a significant area of savings. However, in order to do this, in-house teams will have to develop mature eDiscovery processes and workflows as well as invest in eDiscovery technology.

To read even more statistics regarding corporate in-house legal teams,
Download the Full Infographic!

Written by Jim Gill, Content Writer, Ipro

4 Challenges When Conducting an Enterprise eDiscovery Data Inventory

enterprise eDiscovery data challenges

4 Challenges When Conducting an Enterprise eDiscovery Data Inventory

An important first step to help corporate counsel and their departments more efficiently manage enterprise eDiscovery data before litigation arises, is understanding your organization’s data landscape in order to avoid potential data pitfalls in the middle of a matter.

The challenge lies with the near infinite number of file types (and variations within each type) in which data can live. Every program and application you use creates different file types: email, chat, social media, planning and content-creation tools, etc. Different versions of the same program or application create variations of those file types, and different formatting within each of those can create still more variations.

Here are 4 Data Challenges any enterprise should discuss with their IT Director and eDiscovery Manager, so that they can begin a data inventory and put policies in place ahead of litigation, which will greatly cut down on roadblocks later.

  1. The Fringes – Legacy and Bleeding Edge

Have you ever cleaned out your closet and found that shoebox full of cassettes from college? Businesses are no different. Many of their electronic files are stored as legacy file types which are no longer supported. A great example is one company who needed to review files which were saved on 8-inch floppy disks! Knowing this ahead of litigation is important.

On the other end of that spectrum, being on the forefront of technology is great, but when it comes to preparing files for eDiscovery, it can slow things down. Similar to knowing about legacy files, it’s also important to take note of recently developed software or applications your organization may use which creates unique file types.

  1. New Data Sources – Mobile, IM, and Social Media (Oh My!)

Mobile devices can be difficult when it comes to eDiscovery for many reasons. They contain a large variety of file-types and data intermingled with a lot of private information, which may be privileged. Extracting specific information can be difficult and imaging an entire device can be costly. This is why it’s important to have policies in place to determine how mobile devices are used for business purposes.

Organizations are also relying on messaging platforms (Slack, Teams, and What’s App are good examples) and social media to conduct business. Data can usually be requested from the source company (For example, Instagram has a data request form in its Privacy and Security settings), but it can be difficult to put into a review-ready format. So, knowing if these platforms are a potential source of data—should litigation arise—is important.

  1. The Oddballs – Unsupported Data Files

Besides the file types listed here, there are a myriad of other unsupported file types which may come into play (A good example are CAD files used by an architecture or construction company). Because they are used every day by members of an organization, the fact that they may be difficult to process for review may not be considered in the event of legal action.

  1. Size Matters – Understanding Your Organization’s Overall Dataset

Besides knowing the file types your organization may use, knowing the size of that data is also difficult to capture, especially with the exponential growth of electronic information each year. Doing a data inventory will give you an idea of how much data is created for a given amount of time, as well as how much of that data may be ROT (Redundant, Obsolete, Trivial).

It’s easy to get stuck in a “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality, but eDiscovery data challenges shouldn’t get in the way of your enterprise legal team’s ability to quickly understand the facts in a matter. For more insights into your organization’s data landscape, Download the Ipro Pre-Litigation Data Inventory Checklist now!

Ipro Pre-Litigation Data Checklist

Grab BigData by the Horns: Download Ipro’s Pre-Litigation Data Checklist!

For corporations, litigation is not a case of “if” but “when.” However, this risk can be mitigated with repeatable processes and preparation, especially when it comes to data. Moving data to Early Case Assessment (ECA) as soon as possible allows your legal team to quickly get to the facts of the case.

A first step in this process is to use Ipro’s Pre-Litigation Data Checklist as a guide to effectively manage enterprise data in order to avoid potential data pitfalls in the middle of a matter.

Download the Ipro Pre-Litigation Data Inventory Checklist

Ipro Pre-Litigation Data Checklist