In-House Legal Data Analytics (part 2) - What

The 'what' in legal data analytics calls to your Legal Department’s output: What exactly do you do around here?

Legal Data Analytics Fundamentals, Part 2: The What

We recognize that the phrase “legal data analytics” can be intimidating for Legal Departments, and we understand. In this four-part series, we will cover the basics of legal data analytics for in-house teams. The fundamentals of legal data analytics are universal, and data collection can be simple and relatively painless. We promise.

“The what”

This calls to your in-house Legal Department’s output: What exactly do you do around here?

A smart collection and classification of your legal work will help you identify opportunities for improvement, ensure appropriate staffing, scout problem areas and more.

The challenge: To obtain legal data that is at all useful, your in-house legal team needs a relevant and consistent taxonomy to classify matters.

Example: a trademark litigation matter:
1. John categorizes the matter as “litigation,”
2. Jane calls it “intellectual property: general,”

Result: the team fails to recognize a trend which points to a problem with the company’s marks and an opportunity for a cohesive battle plan.


You don’t have to address every possible characteristic of every type of legal matter. You can create actionable legal department intelligence with three categories: work type, work category and value of project.

Work type

This refers to the legal matter’s relative importance to the organization. According to The GC350, a benchmarking study, on average in-house legal work is split among four buckets:

  • Low-level legal process: 14 percent
  • Day-to-day legal: 39 percent
  • High-level strategic: 25 percent
  • Specialist advice: 22 percent

After years of designing and deploying a matter management software for legal departments, we recommend using three work types:

  • Business as usual: work being done to maintain the core business
  • Special project: work not likely to be repeatable (or budgeted)
  • Quick advice: question-and-answer interaction with business units – the quick calls and email responses that may not warrant a formal matter opening but should be recorded in some way. 

This data will inform:

  • Your department staffing and law firm selection, as high-level project work demands different, and an often complex mix of resources vs. quick advice, where the responders need to be intimately familiar with the corporate strategy and how this should be weighed against competing legal requirements.
  • Ideas for process improvement: Monitor the business as usual and advice fields for “repeat offenders” from your business units. Can you adjust policy, conduct training or introduce self-help tools?
  • Your budget
legal analytics software

Work category

This refers to the legal subject matter (or practice area, for law firm expatriates). This area is critical: An accurate catalog of legal matters will help you better address problem areas and identify opportunities for optimization. What categories are spiking – and why?

Let’s refer back to the example above: An organization sees an uptick in trademark litigation matters. If these are accurately and consistently charted, the Legal Department can be proactive. Is it a problematic product or packaging? Can defense be consolidated with one law firm to save time and money? Should there be a new protocol with Marketing or Product Development?

Legal Departments considering automation or technology solutions will find a wealth of information here, too. What work repeats? According to The GC350, 87 percent of general counsel report compliance as a primary discipline; consider the possibilities there for a legal matter management solution.

No two Legal Departments are the same. Ensure your categories and subcategories are specifically tailored to the needs of your team, your industry and your company – then ensure your people know how to accurately and consistently record their matters.

Matter value. The most straightforward metric: What’s at stake?

This will be a powerful tool when analyzing your resourcing: Is your most expensive talent working on the lowest-stakes matters? Moreover, a cluster of small-dollar legal matters also can indicate a basic policy problem, business unit issue, or chance to bring legal technology tools together for a streamlined solution.

A corporate matter management system designed for in-house legal teams can make the collection of this information simple and steady. With Xakia’s legal matter entry form, it takes less than 30 seconds. Schedule a demo to learn how to measure your “what” – and how to put your metrics to work.

If you missed the first part of our series, The Who of Legal Data Analytics, you can find it here. Next, we’ll look at the When – how to sort through your time spent as well as turnaround time. Finally, we’ll tie it all together with the Why.

Download our legal resourcing quadrant fact sheet to see work types and resourcing plotted on a quadrant for highest impact.

To learn how Xakia's legal analytics software can help, get in touch with the team today for a demo and see it in action.

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