Data is the infinity stone: the tech giants who have it are the new industrial titans, and it's the fuel powering the companies and industries growing the fastest. Against a backdrop of time and cost pressure, Legal teams at fast-growth businesses are under huge pressure to deliver, facing overflowing inboxes, stretched teams, time management, and employee churn, etc.
Fuelling your legal department’s tank with data can unlock efficiency. And not just for legal – for the business or company as a whole. But how do you actually operationalize this and make your team truly data-driven? This is when the role of the Dashboard comes to play
What makes a legal dashboard useful?
In the early stages of Attorn, we had ideas around customers we needed to serve, problems we needed to solve, and resources we needed to deploy. We built dashboards early on to empower us to validate this data and solidify our ideas, using them to monitor statistics, delegations, workspace and customer success in real-time. It was easy to understand and digest, gave an accurate overview of our strengths and weaknesses, and let us focus on the areas that needed it most.
But although Attorn works with legal teams every day, the use of dashboards isn’t yet ubiquitous within legal teams, despite their drive to be data-driven. Lawyers historically live in traditional forms such as Word and PDFs, and while the legal operations revolution is changing this, getting lawyers & the whole legal ecosystem to adopt dashboards isn’t easy. To ensure adoption, legal teams need a solution that is:
- Customizable. Not all data is relevant to all people. Legal teams need to pinpoint the metrics that matter to them, to create an accurate representation of the goals everyone needs to chase
- Easy to navigate. Most dashboard providers offer regular support and resources to help drive adoption. A no-code, user-friendly dashboard is much more likely to be maintained and used
- A way of uniting teams. In a distributed team working across different jurisdictions, one of the biggest challenges to overcome is the soloing of information. A unified dashboard ensures teams are properly aligned, regardless of their location
- Actionable. Relevant data is important, but it’s not enough – legal teams need to be able to understand what to do with that data in order to get the most out of it. Dashboards can’t be created and left to wither on the vine – information must be monitored, adjusted, and acted upon regularly
- Good UX. The success of a dashboard should be evaluated in terms of the user’s ability to identify and understand the individual figures, patterns, and trends bound to the data being represented.
This can only be achieved as a result of various design considerations that go beyond the aesthetic nature. Busyness, ambiguous or incongruous graphics, and text lacking clarity or meaningfulness can render even the most attractive display useless as the viewer is forced into lengthy decryption to gain an understanding of the represented data.
Thus, a dashboard is only as effective as the quality of its design. Improve the design, increase the user experience.
What should be on the legal dashboard?
Smart legal teams are already tracking the metrics that drive their organization’s success – whether they relate to outside spend, contract management, time allocations or any other KPIs. Here are some common metrics that we see successful teams featuring on their dashboards:
- Incoming Work classified by date/time and type of project. This gives both the legal team and their budget controllers a clear view of what’s actually in their pipeline – and the results can be surprising
- Time and Cost Per Matter. These can be rough calculations rather than minute-by-minute increments, but this kind of data highlights bottlenecks immediately and can help make the case for additional resource
- Seamless communication. Manage work within as well as outside your team by assigning tasks and organize your work and make them easier to find and share with the whole team or certain users.
- Company Goals. Legal teams all want to be enablers rather than blockers, and a great way to achieve this is to align with and monitor the company’s commercial goals. If revenue is lagging because sales contracts take too long to sign, that might be a process you can influence and improve
There are a host of other metrics that might be appropriate for your business, but the important thing is to analyze and act on the data regularly. By doing this you can identify patterns of behavior, irregularities, and weaknesses in your function. The ability to harness data from dashboards and apply it to drive better decisions within the team will really reflect on the success of the legal function as a whole.
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