Data increases someone’s power and reduces someone else’s power

Ponder the double-edged sword of data.  Yes, knowledge is power, as Francis Bacon and many others have asserted.  If you know the base salaries of your cohort, you are can argue more forcefully for a raise.  “Everyone else like me makes more.”  If your total legal spending as a percentage of revenue is less than the median in your industry, your Office of the General Counsel can preen.  Given facts, someone gains power.

Yet, inevitably knowledge weakens someone else if the facts show that their view is misguided or their assertion unfounded.   If it turns out from compensation surveys that you are paid at the top of your cohort range, you have one less leg to stand on and might not want the comparative salary data to be known.   If you have higher internal spending per legal staff as compared to your industry peers, but not lower external spend, you might want the benchmark report to gather dust on the shelf.  Presented facts, someone’s position weakens.

Put differently, accurate facts wielded by lawyer managers always cut two ways politically:  someone gains power and someone loses power.  Facts and data are not neutral and value-free.