7 ways law firms can benefit from data governance

When doing anything in a law firm, you need to get stakeholder buy-in by explaining what’s in it for them. That means that you will need to have a clear idea of the benefits of data governance for your firm.

The purpose of data governance is to help ensure that critical data has meaning and that accountable and responsible people are managing it properly. As a result, the firm’s data will be consistent, good quality, compliant with regulations, trusted and available to the people who need to use it to do their jobs.

You are probably thinking about the benefits because you are sitting down to write your business case for data governance. Or you are preparing for early stakeholder conversations. Here are seven ways we’ve found that law firms benefit from data governance to help you get started.

7 ways law firms can benefit from data governance

1.    Accelerated digital transformation

Digital transformation means rethinking how the firm uses technology to streamline internal processes and improve client workflows and revenue streams. Rethinking is usually in response to changes in client expectations, so the transformations meet changing firm and market requirements.

Since this involves making workflows more efficient by removing manual steps like processing paperwork, digital transformation prevents the bottleneck of data and information. Digital transformation can also positively impact productivity and access to talent because it frees up people’s time.

2.    Better use of data for decision making

Data governance helps everyone in the firm have the context to trust data, access data, and develop valuable insights. Creating a culture that encourages critical thinking and curiosity will allow people to explore real-time reporting and predictive insights from historical data.

As a result, trusted data leads to proactive, confident decisions—people based on observed data telling them what is working well for the firm and what is not. The use of facts, metrics and predictive insights will help to guide better decisions aligned with the firm’s strategy, objectives and goals.

3.    Improved understanding of your clients

Most law firms recognise that their clients are their biggest asset. They are already capturing and analysing a lot of external data about their clients from purchased resources. The Business Development teams and Finance teams also collect a publish internal data about these clients.

Data governance can help create a better picture of all the internal data held about a client by making it easier to find all of the information about a client in the firm’s systems. Subsequently, this picture helps with data privacy considerations and adds a new dimension to client relationship analysis. It can help to tell the story of the client’s experiences with the firm and provide new data sets to enhance the study of the firm’s relationship with that client.

4.     Lowered data management costs

Since firms tend to grow organically over time, many have approached data in a disorganised way. Individual teams implement data capture, data quality, data technologies and data integrations on a project by project basis. The result is a duplicated or overlapping approach to technologies, processes and staffing.

Adopting data governance makes it easier to identify these duplications and the required activities to streamline processes, technologies, and teams proactively. These efficiencies result in a lower data management cost for the firm because of decreased technology licencing costs, automation of data management and integration activities, and (potentially) reduced headcount requirements.

5.    Increased access to data

The increased volume of data created and stored within a firm means that business services teams are becoming unwitting bottlenecks. A more data literate workforce has higher expectations on what data is available to them. Still, these gatekeepers prevent people from getting timely access to the data they need.

Data Governance wraps a trust and compliance layer around the firm’s data. This layer helps data gatekeepers become data shopkeepers who make it easy for people to find and use the data they need to do their jobs. For example, by self-service Business Intelligence applications.

6.    A shared language

As firms grow and adopt specialised teams and technologies to help them, the language of these teams becomes increasingly specialised and is, therefore, a barrier to cross-functional understanding. This vocabulary is often a source of confusion and frustration for lawyers receiving different data reports with the same labels (e.g. Finance’s headcount report versus HR’s headcount report).

Data governance helps firmwide colleagues define shared business terminology and rules so that everyone speaks the same language. This common language enables a shared cross-team understanding and allows people to leverage the appropriate consistent and trusted data.

This cross-functional approach to the firm’s language makes it easier for business services teams to manage and share data. It also makes it easier for lawyers and senior stakeholders to understand the dashboards and reports that they use. Which, in turn, increases their confidence in the firm’s data.

7.    Easier innovation and collaboration

Most firms have innovation somewhere in their organisational structure or strategy. For innovation to thrive, people need the autonomy to try and fail without fear. This autonomy includes being able to find and use data for themselves. Of course, innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It requires people from many areas of the firm to work together.

Data governance supports innovation by helping to tear down functional silos and democratising access to data using a shared language. Consequently, data governance increases trust in the data itself and the teams managing or leveraging it, making collaboration easier for these innovative teams.

Final Advice

When thinking about your business case and the stakeholders you want to influence, you might not use all seven of these benefits. It’s common for firms to pick the top 3 or top 5 benefits and focus on those. Since this is a list of the most common benefits, you might have other more specific benefits to your firm.

How to get help

If you want to learn more about data governance, our road mapping process, or how we can help you: