As an industry, whether inside or outside counsel, we don’t do a good job of figuring out what we want to measure in our organizations, but we still manage the business of law, according to Timothy B. Corcoran, principal of the Corcoran Consulting Group.
“Is anyone here willing to acknowledge, that because we don’t have great data, we’re not managing our business?” he asks in a YouTube video: CCG Buying Legal Chicago conference “Useful Metrics & Benchmarking.” The video was published around the time he presented his ideas to the Chicago Buying Legal conference.
So how does the industry measure? It may well be a combination of politics, irrelevant data and instinct, or gut feeling. Using a series of Dilbert cartoons and anecdotes, to illustrate his message:
1. Political decisions. As the old saying goes, no one gets fired for hiring a staple brand. Mr. Corcoran conveys an anecdote where legal procurement officer hires only from a list of top tier firms, but negotiates a 15% discount. When challenged to find the legal department additional savings the options seem fleeting. “If the only contribution you’re making is hiring from a pre-defined list of law firms and extracting a formulaic discount, then we don’t need you,” says Mr. Corcoran in the video.
Also see this contributed post by Mr. Corcoran:
7 Creative Ideas to Kick Start Collaborative Legal Conversations
2. Overwhelming data. Data is only useful when we understand it and can use it to drive better decisions. For example, a large law firm where Mr. Corcoran once worked would pass out thick reports on the previous month’s activities. It was too much data to absorb and didn’t cause the firm to “managed differently.”
3. Gut feelings. Select the data that best supports our pre-conceived notions – sometimes unconsciously. He references the story of Moneyball to make a point. An organization, in this case a baseball team, used the same information everyone else had, only differently: to gain a competitive edge.
* * *
The full presentation runs just 20 minutes, is embedded in the video nearby, and is this week’s Friday Share.
Separately it’s also worth pointing out that law librarian Greg Lambert, morphed Mr. Corcoran’s “legal department concepts for metrics and benchmarking onto the world of legal information professionals,” in a post for 3 Geeks and a Law Blog: What are the Useful Metrics & Benchmarks for Information Professionals?
Legal Spend Trends: Big Law Billing Rates Rising
Photo credit: Sonny Abesamis, Measure a thousand times, cut once (CC BY 2.0)