The larger the law department, the more likely it undertakes data analysis

Instances of data science in U.S. law firms or law departments beyond the most basic are sparse or at least hard to find out about.  Most of the numbers collected by them are summarized and described only, often by Excel or PowerPoint, and there is very little analysis other than trends over time or rankings.

Because the field of legal data science in support of management decisions is nascent, we have little to go on regarding its development.   One survey that explored the topic is the 2016 Chief Legal Officer Survey, conducted by Altman Weil, Inc. in the Fall of 2016.  This year’s survey attracted 331 participants.  The median law department has nine lawyers while the median corporate revenue is $3.5 billion dollars.  Thus, the survey sample was large and consisted mostly of very large companies.

One question on the Altman Weil survey asked “In the last 12 months, have you done any of the following to increase your law department’s efficiency in its delivery of legal services? (Check all that apply.)”  Of the eight choices, page 6 of the Report shows that “Collection and analysis of management metrics” came in fourth, with 39% of the respondents checking it.

Not surprisingly, when you break the respondents into five revenue categories, as shown in the graphic below, the larger the company, the more likely the respondent checked that selection.  The smaller companies on the left had one out of four, approximately, indicating that they worked with management metrics; the larger companies on the right were more like two out of three selected it.  The inference is that bigger departments have more data and more people or IT resources who can dive into it to help their managers make decisions.

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