Legal managers look for available but overlooked data that can sharpen their business judgment. One data set that might be new is “surface area”: how many individual clients interact with lawyers during a period of time, either within the organization for law departments or at organizational clients for law firms. Surface area doesn’t just track senior clients, it tracks all clients. The more clients who have dealings with a lawyer each quarter, the larger the contact surface area and presumably the better the law department or law firm both knows and responds to clients. Widespread connections – a large surface area for the law department or law firm – assures that clients are finding the lawyers valuable. It also keeps the lawyers more in touch with business realities, rather than lost in the myopia of purely legal developments.
True, the lawyers might need to tally a few individual clients on their own, but tools exist to capture much of the data. What comes to mind is software that extracts names of clients in emails of the lawyers. For a partner in a firm, email traffic with [name]@[client].com would be fairly easy to keep pull out and keep track of; for an associate general counsel in a company, the same type of filter would be even easier to spot and count internal email traffic. Another source could be invitation lists to meetings.
Analyses of data on client contacts would focus on changes over time and distribution, and could also allow fuel social network insights. For the network graphs, it would be useful to categorize clients by level or position.