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Exemplary practices for law department data collection

A general counsel who values metrics should ponder these seven practices, which came from an article in Cost Management (Nov.-Dec. 2003 at 7):

1. Concentrate on a few strategic measures, such as total legal spending as a percentage of revenue, rather than a “full metrics buffet” (But see my post of April 2, 2005 regarding six litigation metrics.)
2. Choose measures that counterbalance each other to prevent emphasis on one, perhaps reducing lawyers per billion of revenue, from distorting action in another area, as with hiring too many paralegals
3. Strive for predictive metrics, along the lines of new causes of action per quarter, which might suggest a litigation trend, rather than rearview metrics, like cases closed
4. Seek a mix of financial and non-financial measures. The latter might include unwanted turnover, development of knowledge capital, and client satisfaction
5. Systematize your processes for collecting, disseminating, and analyzing the data so that you can make timely decisions based thereon
6. Decide on your targets – reduce the cycle time of products liability lawsuits by 25 percent in two years – and hold a single lawyer – not a collective – accountable for delivering the result. (See my post of March 19, 2005 on the defensive use of metrics.)
7. Align your departmental measures and targets to your company’s strategic goals. (See my post of April 9, 2005 on mission critical goals.)

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