Data-driven insights pertinent for sustainable legal functions
Law departments may not be able to guarantee long-term success for their transformation projects and onboarding of tech solutions without the data to back it up, say two KPMG professionals.
The explosion of new legal tech products in recent years, together with the “clear and accelerating push of enterprise technology into the legal space”, has added to the complexity for in-house legal teams, KPMG said in a statement.
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In the face of this, setting a clear strategy and Target Operating Model can make buy, build and adapt decisions much clearer.
“Although there is not one tool that can do it all and integrate completely with wider enterprise systems, there’s a pathway to building the right ecosystem,” the firm posited.
According to KPMG head of legal operations and transformation services Jason McQuillen, many corporate and government legal departments are undertaking transformation projects and implementing legal technology but without the data needed to properly guarantee long-term success and sustainability.
“We’re seeing in-house legal teams really embrace the challenge of changing their ways of working to meet increasing demand,” he said.
“But, for many, they are unable to make the business case for the tools they really need or are otherwise going in blind. That’s because they don’t have objective data on the cost and value of their activities.”
The problem, as Mr McQuillen sees it, is that most in-house teams either don’t collect data in the first place — perhaps as a result of resistance to filling out old-school timesheets — or they do have some data, but they don’t have processes in place to extract said data from the relevant systems.
“They are not getting the credit they deserve for successful projects and are not learning fast enough from unsuccessful projects as they don’t know enough about where they started,” he surmised.
Having benchmarks in place, Mr McQuillen continued, can offer “very useful signposts” on what a department may be getting right or wrong.
Ultimately, however, it will come down to the strategy of that department, he mused.
“This includes a self-service approach, how legal interacts with the business more broadly, and how and when you engage law firms and other service providers.
“Depending on these factors, we would expect some in-house legal teams to be doing much more document work than others, for example,” he said.
KPMG head of legal technology Alistair Griffin — who is also a director of legal ops and transformation services — supported Mr McQuillen’s comments, adding that law departments often find themselves in a “Catch 22” situation where they don’t have the data to prove the case to invest in legal technology, but, simultaneously, don’t have the legal technology they need to generate that very data.
“We have been working with clients to break this cycle,” he submitted.
To this end, Mr Griffin noted, the legal ops and transformation services team at KPMG has developed a Legal Function Assessment Suite (LFAS), which aims to accelerate the optimisation of legal teams with both qualitative and quantitative insights.
It strives, he said, “to deliver sufficient quantitative and qualitative data to change the way legal teams transform in the most user-friendly way we can”.
“Our hybrid approach combines automated intelligence with human specialists to deliver results smarter, easier, and faster than traditional consulting alone,” he said.
KPMG LOTS has been using LFAS, the pair pointed out, with client legal teams of various sizes across different geographies and industries.
Mr Griffin: “We recommend starting with a Target Operating Model (TOM) assessment, which includes agreeing with the business and stakeholders on what legal will and won’t do.
“The Legal Function Assessment Suite combines both a TOM Diagnostic tool which collates qualitative data, with KPMG’s Legal Activity Estimator to pull together quantitative data, providing legal with the insights it needs to select and prioritise transformation and legal technology projects.”