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Create an index of change from a consistent baseline for practice area metrics

A law department that has tracked practice-area benchmarks over a period of three or more years can present that data on a series of comparative charts (See my posts of Sept. 3, 2006 on such benchmarks, and references cited; and Jan. 6, 2007 for other data.). Each chart shows one practice area benchmark where the first year of the benchmark is set at zero. Each year after that, the chart shows the percentage change from the first year.

By this method of normalizing the data – change against the same zero baseline — differences in productivity would be apparent (See my post of Nov. 13, 2006 and its explanation of normalized figures.). For litigators, the chart might show cases closed; for the patent group, applications filed. Commercial lawyers, they might track the dollar value of contracts negotiated and signed; labor lawyers might track grievances dealt with. Square feet leased, bought or sold might be a metric for real estate lawyers while the value of M&A deals worked on could serve for corporate lawyers.

The set of charts, each displaying changes in output for a practice group from a common starting point, will help a law department’s managers staff, plan, allocate bonuses, invest in technology, and explain to clients the contributions of the law department.