Cybersecurity and Law Firms


Handling activities with large associated financial values such as property sales, or mergers and acquisitions, is making targeting law firms a highly attractive target for cyber criminals. Once hacked, law firms lose their most prestigious asset: their reputation. Clients will switch firms even if they just sense there is the potential risk of having personal data leaked.   Data is money, and even power.  It has to be protected at all costs.

It’s been suggested that law firms are not taking cybersecurity seriously enough and are not putting appropriate measures in place to avoid attack. Firewalls and antivirus systems may not be enough to ensure protection; clients are sometimes now asking firms to prove their cyber-security capabilities by requesting that periodic security audits and ‘ethical hacking’ exercises be carried out regularly to expose any weaknesses.

Law firms are the new target

Hackers have already breached the security systems of at least one major international law firm, transforming a long-predicted cyber espionage scenario into reality. In the US, two magic circle firms were among the top 48 firms targeted in order to gain sensitive information on mergers and acquisitions, highlighting the sophistication of hackers and their more bespoke approach to targeting firms in specific sectors or following high-profile business deals.

Yet it can be difficult to implement new cyber-security procedures within firms if senior partners do not adhere to them. For example, while firms may have policies barring the use of online storage services such as DropBox, some partners continue to use them (2).

Hacking is a growing threat

In 2014, 173 UK firms were investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office in reference to a number of incidents that were suspected to have breached the Data Protection Act. A total of 187 incidents were recorded – 29% related to security and 26% related to the incorrect disclosure of data (5).

Victims of this rise in attacks are both big and small corporations; however, small businesses are becoming the easiest and preferred target due to a lack of security measures in place. In fact, half of last year’s cyber-attacks in the UK were directed at businesses employing fewer than 2,500 people (1).  With the majority of law firms falling within this bracket, cyber-security measures should be taken very seriously by everyone working in a law firm.

Particularly for law firms, many of the staff are decision makers, compared with other business sectors where only Managers or the Accounts department have access to important company information.  Conversely in a law firm, lawyers and partners have access to huge amounts of highly sensitive data about their clients.

Recommendations

The Metropolitan Police offers a variety of information on how to prevent firms from being hacked. The most relevant recommendations for law firms centre around protecting access to data, across: ensuring access control so that staff only have access to the files they need rather than granting company-wide access to shared folders.  Additionally, encrypting any information stored on removable media or portable devices and considering the use of systems that eliminate the need for any files to be stored on portable devices is important for controlling how and where data is stored.

In addition to this, firms should be making sure that any device connected to organisational systems, including remote working, is vetted for security. Data transmission within and beyond the firm should be secure at all ends and access rights for staff who have left the firm should be revoked immediately.  Predictably, it’s important as we know to conduct background checks on applicants, especially those who will have access to highly sensitive data – thinking about how employees could use or export data.  Are you making it too easy to quickly download all of your client information onto a hard drive?  Or are you providing adequate controls to employees who are using their own devices to record client information, such as tablets and mobiles?

Price Waterhouse Coopers also recommend to take other specific measures.  Firstly, some clients will have specific requirements around how their data is managed by the law firm.  IT Directors at law firms need to be mindful of how these requirements are adhered to over the long term so that standards remain high.

Secondly, a global law firm needs to be able to satisfy global clients on a global basis. So, sharing information across a global network in a secure way is critical, as is ensuring that data protection policies in each region are adhered to.

Finally, understanding what data you have, and where it is located is key.  With so many easily accessible cloud storage tools and USB products available, it can be a huge task to even figure out where information is stored.  Which applications have which data, who has used a USB stick to handle client data in the past year, and is anyone using DropBox or personal Microsoft and Google accounts to share information or send files?

Apart from the previous recommendations, it is also important to consider practices such as ethical hacking exercises, which are carried out from the inside to detect a firm’s weaknesses to uncover potential opportunities for hacking. One firm which is already carrying out this practice is London media specialist practice, Schillings.  The firm has recently rebranded itself as a risk consulting and technology security practice, even promoting its services to other law firms to help with penetration testing and ethical hacking exercises to test system vulnerability (1).

C24 is holding a specialist cyber-security and social engineering course that is nationally accredited and delivered by UK specialists who train police forces in cyber security.  Each place normally costs upwards of £300 ex VAT per delegate, but C24 is offering ten IT Managers, Directors or CIOs the opportunity to attend the accredited half-day course for free.

Register your interest here.

 

 

References

(1) https://www.thelawyer.com/issues/28-october-2013/cyber-security-lawyers-are-the-weakest-link/

(2) https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/manda-hack-attack-on-48-elite-law-firms/5054524.article

(3) https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/news/stories/scams-against-solicitors-met-police-offer-advice-and-support-on-fraud-prevention/

(4) http://www.pwc.co.uk/industries/business-services/law-firms/insights/cyber-security-issues-facing-law-firms.html

(5) https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/ico-probes-173-law-firms-over-data-protection-breaches/5048260.article

 

The Digital Courtroom and Big Data


Courts in the UK are becoming increasingly digitised – in how they handle case work through to the types of evidence that is now able to be presented at trial.  Birmingham has become the UK’s first paper-free court, and as the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service uses roughly 160 million sheets of paper every year, the prospect of moving all courts to paper-free could be a significant money saver for the judicial system.

Technology is being introduced into court rooms across the country, to assist with evidence handling and witness statements.  However it is increasingly being used (less so in the UK) for collating analytics to help lawyers understand the impact of different variables on their case success.

 

Analytics for determining case success

Lawyers are now using software to analyse the decisions, biases and previous case records of judges, and a firm called Ravel Law has launched a piece of software last year to analyse judge behaviour; in a bid to help lawyers become more informed about how judges involved in their cases make decisions, and what factors are likely to make their cases more favourable.

Lawyers would have historically done this manually, trawling through previous cases and documents about their assigned Judge, to come up with an overview of previous ruling decisions, particular biases and useful trends – in order to develop better strategies.

This can now be done by analytics tools that amalgamate previous case information and offer up insights quickly and simply.  These insights have made it possible to uncover particular trends that might not have been flagged up by a traditional manual process, for example, in Israeli parole hearings, cases held earlier in the day had a better chance of receiving a favourable ruling compared with cases held just before lunch.

This type of analysis across many years of cases has meant that lawyers can quickly search against certain keywords or scenarios to see how juries and judges made decisions in other similar situations.  Legal teams can then realign their strategy throughout the case based on the analytics coming through to them.

One issue that has arisen from the study of analytics has been the uncovering of certain biases on the part of judges – whether that is social or geographic – but it has shown that rulings can be incredibly subjective depending on personal factors (such as where the judge studied and the types of cases he/she typically draws on to support rulings).

Apps such as Voltaire’s solution are now assisting with data analytics during the jury selection process, to analyse jurors’ biases through their web history and general digital footprint.

 

Behavioural analytics

The advent of video technology has now meant that behavioural analytics can be studied within courtrooms and the wider judicial system.  Being able to monitor defendant and witnesses’ behavioural patterns at the police station or in the court, could potentially help lawyers in the future to distinguish patterns and analyse the emotional psychology of individuals.

Birmingham Magistrates Court’s decision to go paper-free and install Wi-Fi throughout many of its court buildings means that it can now show video and audio evidence in court and deliver remote statements via video link.

In the future, if the government’s plan to make courtrooms fully digital in the next year, video links could be used to present defendants before magistrates from custody suites to reduce the time taken transporting individuals between police stations and court.  This is all part of the plans from the coalition government in 2012 to have a judicial system that is “swift and sure”, focusing on reducing court delays.

 

Future of the digital courtroom

Courts are still catching up and going paper free is probably still a long way off for many regions, however forward thinkers are already looking to the future about how technology could further impact the court room.

One of the areas we think that may be impacted is through sensor technology – taking jury and judge behavioural analytics a step further by collecting data from individuals during trials.  For instance, sensor data might be able to tell us that prosecution teams that move around the court more when presenting their case are more likely to receive an advantageous result from juries or that witnesses whose heart rate is consistently high when testifying are perceived as lying.  These are all just hypothetical examples, but if we are already monitoring the outcomes of cases based on how close to lunch the ruling was, it’s not ridiculous to think that sensor technology could make its way into the court room in the next ten years.

 

For more information about some of the points we raised above, see below:

http://www.informationweek.com/big-data/software-platforms/data-lawyers-and-it-how-theyre-connected/a/d-id/1323314

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/new-investment-courts-help-rid-4730711

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/damian-green-digital-courtrooms-to-be-rolled-out-nationally

http://click-accenture.com/technology-in-the-courtroom-digital-justice/#.VxX8LfkrLIU

http://www.reform.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Digital-Justice_WEB.pdf

http://www.wb2.com/big-data-in-the-courtroom-new-judge-analytics-platform-unveiled/

http://www.senzit.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Evidencer-General.pdf

 

Image provided courtesy of Surrey County News.

Does Big Data Suit Your Law Firm?


This is the third in a series of posts about our whitepaper titled Building a data driven professional services firm which is all about how to be data driven, not data wary.

In this post, we are going to look at whether big data is right for all types of law firms, but for the full detail – you’ll need to visit our website to access the whitepaper in full.

Data analytics is useful for all organisations, but it depends how you use it.

For high street firms, we see big data being an incredibly useful tool for managing a large list of transient customers, who might contract a service from you for a relatively short period of time (I.e. a property purchase) – then never engage with your company again.  How do you keep track of those customers?  How do you ensure you are the go-to firm when they come to sell that same house?  What about when they need a will writing?

Being able to capture this information within a CRM tool and analyse the data to see where you should target and which marketing methods work best means that

For B2B companies with large clients, analytics can be helpful in preparing individual reporting back to the clients – as the billing information will be vastly more complex for multi-year, multi-service contracts where fees are generated across a range of different departments.  Reporting helps these clients to stay on top of their legal partner’s fees, understand how their chosen firm is performing against KPIs and ensure that firms are explaining where their fees are being generated from.

For larger providers who operate at scale such as Alternative Business Structures (i.e. multinational insurance companies offering legal services), big data gives these organisations the ability to monitor their entire operations and make efficiency changes that could mean the difference between a 1% profit increase or decrease.

In our whitepaper, Martyn Wells, IT Director at UK leading law firm Wright Hassall, offers his views on how data analytics is changing service delivery in the legal sector.

Martyn highlights how smart interfacing will become more of a requirement as customers want to natively instruct their legal partners from inside their own ERP systems, or handle invoices through their own procurement tools without having to separately pick up the phone to instruct a lawyer.

This means that lawyers have to be able to integrate with these systems and be up to date with the technology being used by their clients.  And it means that data has to be able to flow through these different systems in a safe and secure manner.

Wells also cites that data will be useful for firms operating a fixed price model, as access to data tools will enable legal organisations to closely monitor fees and associated activity being carried out by lawyers to ensure profit margins remain at an appropriate level.

For the full whitepaper, and to read about how Wright Hassall use business analytics tools to create client dashboards for their customers, visit our website to download the report.

Designing data into professional services firms from the start


 

When embarking upon a new big data project, professional services firms can often get bogged down in the amount of existing governance regulations and processes already in place across the business.  “We can’t do this, because we use system XYZ”, or “This won’t work because we can’t expect our frontline staff to input data daily”.

There can often be so many blockers to a new data tool.

That’s why we interviewed leading UK law firm Wright Hassall’s IT Director, Martyn Wells, about his views on integrating data into an existing business and what could be done if data was designed into process from the start.

We have just launched our whitepaper titled “Building a data driven professional services firm” which is all about how to be data driven, not data wary.

By designing a new firm from the ground up, businesses could be fully data driven from day 1, harnessing data services to refine operations, drive marketing initiatives and monitor trends.

More importantly, it could

It could affect the time it takes to make a decision; by utilising big data tools to pull information from multiple sources in seconds.

Accuracy could be improved by always backing up decisions with data, rather than relying purely on intuition or anecdotal experience.

Systems and tools would be different as firms moved away from paper based methods and legacy systems through to newer analytics tools to conduct their decision making.

The information professionals consult to make their decisions may be different if firms were able to draw on many different sources at once.

The people usually approached for insights on a decision might be different.  For instance, if decisions to increase staff levels were usually based on a conversation between HR and Managing Partners but with new resourcing technology, firms could predict staffing requirements based on past data trends and compare it with the firm’s profitability projections, then the decision might then be based on a percentage of firm profitability rather than a consensus between Managing Partners.

Martyn Wells of Wright Hassall highlighted how the multi-generational workforce of many professional services firms can affect technology and big data adoption – due to the different training needs and culture (and how open each generation is to learning about new technology).

Wells also commented in the whitepaper on the balance that professional services firms maintain between legally trained staff (lawyers) and their business support staff (IT, HR, Finance etc).  Data analytics is a way for business support staff to provide better services to enable their lawyers to deliver the most efficient service possible, reducing time to collate and deliver data insights.

To find out more about being a data driven professional services firm, download the full whitepaper from C24 at our website to read Martyn Wells’ insights.

In the Courtroom: Could IOT Change How Evidence is Collected?


We love looking at how big data is affecting the legal sector, but we are also sensing the rumblings of bigger changes – specifically around how the Internet of Things is set to impact on how the legal sector operate and handle case evidence.

Thought leaders are starting to voice their views around how Internet of Things (IOT) devices could affect law enforcement in the future with one source citing how ‘intelligent’ cars could be fitted with devices that detect drivers’ alcohol levels, disabling the vehicle if recorded levels were too high.

The Internet of Things is set to offer lawyers a whole new world in terms of access to client data, for both disputing and substantiating claims.

In a recent case in the US in 2015, a defendant claimed that she was asleep during the time that a crime took place, when in fact her activity tracker showed that she was awake and active.  Wearable devices are tracking technology – and whilst that tracking tech is useful for helping you as an individual to improve your fitness levels, it can also be a method for law enforcement agencies to track what you were doing, or where you were, at a specific time.

 

Could your FitBit incriminate you?

Wearable devices such as FitBits and Garmin’s VivoFitness watches could also be used to prove claims regarding work absences due to injury or sickness – using data to track how active the defendant has been and whether their claims are backed up by data.

In the same way, GPS data in phones and devices could be used to track speeding – and maybe in the future drivers will receive automatic penalties once their car goes over the speed limit, without the need for traffic officers or speed cameras.  Just like the way car tax is purchased online now, before that was introduced we probably thought we would always have a little paper disk in our window screen.

Because wearable device data is not currently covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the data collected is not considered protected or confidential, meaning that it is not set out in law who owns the data – the manufacturer or the device owner.  As FitBit states in their privacy policy, “We will only collect data that is useful to improving Fitbit products, services and your experience” – which leaves the playing field wide open in terms of what constitutes ‘useful’ data.

 

Wearable…but removable

The issue with all of the devices mentioned, and the idea of IOT device data being used as evidence in a courtroom, is that these devices are removable – people choose to put them on, people choose to take them off, people choose to give them to someone else to wear.  Lawyers bringing in wearable device evidence also have to prove that the defendant was wearing the device at the time of the alleged crime – which could be impossible to demonstrate.

Perhaps an area where IOT device data can’t be manipulated as easily as personal trackers is in industrial negligence cases – where machinery or infrastructure malfunction has resulted in an accident or injury.  Having sensors across production lines, industrial infrastructure and factory machinery could show details about what occurred at the time of an accident – with sensor technology showing details about location, temperature, movement and usage.

In this scenario, sensors could take away the need for anecdotal evidence if there is hard evidence in the form of data to back up claims.

However this move from subjective, anecdotal evidence to purely data-focused evidence could risk becoming too objective.  In particularly complex situations, an objective data picture may not fully represent what occurred.

Therefore, could IOT device data in fact warp evidence provided in cases?

 

 

Image provided courtesy of Health Gauge.

Embarking on a Data Journey Like a Start-Up


In our recently launched whitepaper, we have been looking at how new professional services firms can integrate data analytics from the ground up, and how existing firms across the legal and accountancy sectors can look to start-up companies for a more entrepreneurial approach to big data.

Becoming data driven instead of data wary is a process, not a single project.  Many legal firms are now comfortable with the idea of using big data and analytics tools for management reporting and the preparation of financial data.  But the next step is moving along from Managing Information reporting, and building analytics activities into revenue growth and client facing activities.  For more information about moving on from MI reporting, read our other LinkedIn post on the subject.

We see the next step in moving away from MI reporting is Demand Generation: utilising internal and external data feeds to drive revenue through more targeted and measurable marketing activities.  We are in talks with legal firms who are now pulling feeds from Mailchimp, CRM systems and internal case management systems to drive marketing strategies; such as who to target, where most sales come from, profitability of certain customers and responses to recent mailshots/marketing initiatives.

This effort of going beyond MI is all about firms looking at how big data can be used to drive revenue and increase profitability.  Previously, it was good enough for data analytics to spot trends to reduce operational inefficiencies.  Reducing cost isn’t good enough on its own anymore, new technology purchases now have to show how they contribute to business growth.

Following on from better marketing by harnessing data, client retention can be improved by extending data reporting and information visibility capabilities out to clients.  Customers want to be kept up to date in real-time about their individual case developments; they don’t want to wait for a letter to find out information – they want it now.  Online portals that can be used to report back billing information, KPI performance data and key milestone achievements back to customers, without adding extra workload onto the lawyers.

The UK Law Firm Survey 2015 from PWC highlighted that the top 10 firms feel they are winning against their competition by deploying technology – and we think that big data must be one of the fundamental keys to success in growth against the competition.

In our whitepaper, titled “Building a data driven professional services firm” which is all about how to be data driven, not data wary, we talked to Martyn Wells, IT Director at leading UK law firm, Wright Hassall.

Martyn shared with us his thoughts on how data has become integral to many legal activities due to new regulations such as the “Jackson Reform” rules that stipulate that cost management budgets have to be submitted to courts for each case.  This process relies heavily on data to create accurate case costings in the required time.

Martyn also highlights in the whitepaper his views on how it is crucial to “convince with confidence” when taking staff on a data journey – the data has to be correct and everyone working from a single version of the truth to avoid errors occurring and staff becoming wary of using data tools with bad information.

Read the full whitepaper at our site.

C24 Publishes Whitepaper: Building a Data Driven Professional Services Firm


C24 has published a whitepaper titled, “Building a Data Driven Professional Services Firm”, with thought leadership input from Martyn Wells, IT Director at Wright Hassall.

The topic of the whitepaper came about from C24’s continued focus on the legal sector, analysing big data trends and looking at what the next big thing in legal tech could be.

The whitepaper focuses on how firms in the future will move beyond the basics of management reporting and start to become data service providers themselves; delivering end-user reporting capabilities to customers and employing artificial intelligence technology to take on simple, repetitive tasks within firms.

We were lucky enough to have one of our key clients’ IT Director, Martyn Wells, provide insight into how Wright Hassall and Martyn’s team are leading the way in the legal industry by applying data analytics to many parts of their business processes.

Martyn also talks about the challenges that a multi-generational workforce face when new technologies are introduced.

 

Read the whitepaper in full here: C24 Whitepaper – Building a Data Driven Professional Services Firm.

4.5% of data breaches in 2014/15 related to the legal sector


The Information Commissioner’s Office is alerting legal professionals to the risk of data breaches in the sector, especially concerning paper files that can be easily lost, stolen or copied – with no form of encryption.

The ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) is the office responsible for the enforcement of the Data Protection Act 1998.  They have the power to serve a monetary penalty if up to half a million pounds for serious breaches of the Data Protection Act, so they are not an organisation to ignore.C24 - Data breach legal sector

Especially if you work in the legal sector where sensitive information is handled, posted, transferred, copied and destroyed on a daily basis.

In a three month period in 2014 alone, 15 data security incidents linked to the legal sector were reported to the ICO.  This may not sound like many, but due to the highly confidential data handled by the legal profession, the security incidents can often be more likely to generate a fine.

In the ICO’s 2015 annual report, the ICO also highlighted that they were receiving “a significant amount of complaints about the legal profession and (were) working closely with the Bar Standards Board and other regulatory and representative groups within the legal profession to improve information rights compliance”, suggesting that the sector is coming under scrutiny for how it handles data in the future – especially as more and more legal work is conducted online and transferred by email or web portals.

Across all industry sectors, the health sector still stands out as having the most reported data security incidents.  In October – December 2015, the health sector was reported to the ICO for 204 incidents, compared to the legal sector at just 19 incidents.

In the same three month period of 2015, the Crown Prosecution Service received a penalty of £200,000.00 from the ICO (which was one of only two monetary penalties issued in that quarter, the other one being a £250 fine for Bloomsbury Patient Network).  Some of the increases in incidents are thought to be related to the prevalence of cyber-attacks, and the ICO is now creating specialist teams to focus on cyber security as it becomes an increasing threat to data loss and misuse.

In 35% of all cases in 2015 reported to the ICO, no action was required to be taken, however in 22% of cases data controller action was needed.  In other cases, further information or investigation was carried out.

In the entire year, the ICO received 14,268 incidents, across a range of categories, such as inaccurate data, fair processing, retention of data and excessive data.  It’s important to remember that the ICO also handles spam call incidents so not all of the 14,268 incidents are data breaches.

Data breaches can also result in prosecutions.  In 2015, some notable cases prosecuted by the ICO include a company director who was fined for accessing Everything Everywhere’s customer databases to sell his own telecoms services, and a pharmacist who unlawfully accessed the medical records of his family and work colleagues.

In 2014, a Freedom of Information request revealed that during the year, 173 legal firms were investigated by the ICO (29% relating to security and 26% related to the disclosure of data).

In an infographic from the ICO, 2014/15 saw the majority of breaches within the legal sector attributed to the loss or theft of paperwork.  Some commentators have suggested this is due to the large folders and quantities of files that lawyers regularly carry around from court to office to home – increasing the opportunity for information to be lost or stolen.

  • The second most common type of breach in the sector was data posted or faxed to an incorrect recipient.
  • The fifth most common breach was data sent by email to the incorrect recipient. Over time as more firms move their communications to a digital format, I would expect that these two breach types to swap places, as more email incidents occur, and less info is faxed.
  • The least common breach was hacking into insecure webpages – however, with a higher number of firms choosing to interact with clients via portals (for uploading files, receiving updates or reporting) – it is expected that this breach will increase.

The type of data most vulnerable to breaches in the legal sector were basic personal identifiers, followed by clinical data and then criminal records.  The sensitivity of the information that legal professionals deal in means that the loss of a few items of data about a person has the ability to significantly affect the individual.  An extreme example is how some individuals resorted to suicide following the Ashley Madison ‘affair website’ hacking incident; demonstrating the extent that data can affect people’s lives if the data is used in an unintended way.

A specific example of how the legal sector has been on the receiving end of ICO penalties can be seen in the case of Stoke City Council who received a penalty of £120,000 after a solicitor who worked on behalf of the council sent 11 emails about a child protection case to the wrong email address by mistake, some of which contained highly confidential information.  This was the second time the council received a fine from the ICO after a USB stick was lost that contained sensitive information relating to childcare cases.

Evidently, data is important to the legal sector, but data security is critical for the safeguarding of clients, lawyers and law firms.  The legal sector is particularly interesting as many of their data breaches relate to the high use of paper files that can’t be encrypted, unlike other industries that often fall foul of data protection laws due to cyber-attacks, hacking incidents or lax IT policies around data management.

 

For further reading and our references on the above statistics, please see the below links:

ICO: Data Security Trends

ICO: Legal Sector Data Breaches

ICO: Data Breaches within the Legal Profession

ICO: 2014/15 Annual Report

Computer Weekly: Stoke City Council Data Fine

 

Image courtesy of Beth Cortez-Neavel

berg Solicitors: Making Smart Decisions in the Legal Sector


Legal firms have always used data to make better business decisions.  But now it’s getting easier and quicker to collate data into meaningful insights from which partners can make executive decisions.berglogo-new

Ian Brownhill, Finance Director at leading Manchester-based law firm berg, has recently implemented a new approach to data management by extracting data across the firm’s core business applications to draw new insights from the combined information. This is just one of the innovative approaches berg has taken, focusing on core values as the imaginative law firm which in 2015 has celebrated its 35th year with a growing national profile and client base.

“Our existing Practice Management System already included a degree of reporting functionality,” commented Brownhill, “however it didn’t integrate information from other sources such as spreadsheets created by staff or data coming from other applications.  In order for the information to be presented simply and concisely, we needed to collate data across our systems into one output, giving us a single version of the truth.”

Dealing with the mass of data

berg has responded to a situation that many firms are still struggling with.  Law firms now have sophisticated systems in place that generate masses of data, but are only just starting to pull this information together rather than relying on application-specific reporting that doesn’t integrate with other application data.

So data is now abundant, but it is not being harnessed. 

One of the reasons behind this data paradox, says Brownhill, is that many Practice Management Systems designed for the mid-market legal sector do not include mature reporting capabilities, meaning that in order to access integrated reporting functionality a firm would need to purchase expensive enterprise legal software or completely overhaul their legacy PMS platform; both of which are costly and disruptive exercises.

Law firms in particular face a growing problem when it comes to managing data; primarily due to the fact that they collate huge amounts of client data, in addition to their own data generated from day to day business operations.  Firms are now looking to harness this data to gain a more holistic view of their organisations’ operations.

Big data is a behaviour; not just a technology

In addition to harmonising existing financial and operational data, the big data trend is driving firms’ behaviour; encouraging them to mine for data across each function of their business.  Business development and marketing departments are now recognising that business analytics data showing customer trends, purchasing quirks and campaign performance can ensure that revenue generation activities are more successful and targeted.  This is also a focus for Berg, as Brownhill commented, “Using data tools to bring our management reporting overview documents down from 20 pages to a simple one pager has been a huge help to our business in achieving high level visibility of our business, however harnessing information that we already have within our systems to aid with marketing and business development activities is the natural next step – and is where business analytics really starts to impact on revenue generation.”

Moving beyond the PMS

Data held within PMS systems delivers some degree of insight to Managing Partners, however when that information is combined with outputs from the CRM system, invoicing and payment applications and outbound marketing results, the information rapidly becomes a source of valuable insight that can help teams with creating sales strategies, assessing client payment probability and recovering historic debt.

The future of data in the legal sector will inevitably see reporting functionality extended out to firms’ clients.  Some companies already offer functionality to clients allowing them to access portals for viewing updates on their own cases; however sophisticated analytics tools will soon enable partners to share real-time KPI and case reporting to customers within a secure system to keep clients updated on their terms, rather than those of the firm.

David Ricketts, Head of Sales at legal hosting and analytics specialist, C24 Ltd, sees extending visibility to end clients as a crucial step for law firms competing with online providers.  “Online service providers are already very adept at providing real-time reporting to clients,” commented Ricketts, “and traditional firms are now able to use clever analytics tools to combine data and present it back to clients securely – to ultimately improve the wider customer experience”.

PMS platforms will naturally look to build analytics capabilities into the PMS application from the ground up, rather than reporting being an add-on service to an existing tool.  This will allow for the integration of multiple external data feeds to add new insight to existing information – to enable better business decision making at every level within the modern law firm.

 

Access the full case study at C24’s website.

 

About the author

David Ricketts is Head of Sales and Marketing at C24 Ltd, a specialist applications hoster with a particular focus on the legal sector.

Is your law firm marketing up to scratch? Let big data whip you into shape.


Whilst many businesses are now leveragingDeath_to_stock_communicate_hands_5 big data for management reporting, the real innovators are looking at how data can be used to drive revenue growth and improve marketing effectiveness.

Analytics solutions can be deployed across the entire organisation, but in the business development department, big data really comes into its own.

Most marketing efforts within law firms focus solely on the Practice Management System, extracting data about existing or prior clients.  But what about before a client becomes a ‘client’?  How is data about prospects and web visitors tied into existing client information?

Integrating data from business development activities such as email marketing campaigns with PMS information can deliver a holistic view of marketing campaigns; from pressing the ‘send’ button through to billing clients.

We were recently doing some planning about how big data can benefit marketing activities within legal firms and came up with a number of ways that big data can be employed for revenue generation.  Below are some examples of both where our clients are already using analytics and future plans for big data within their law firm.

 

Using big data throughout the marketing lifecycle

 

Developing Prospects

Firms are now recognising that data within the PMS system alone is not enough for developing a healthy pipeline, but often the two sets of data (pre-PMS and post-PMS) are kept separate whereas analytics can unify this information.

  • Google analytics data can be extracted and combined with existing CRM data to see if any particular web events prompted client action.
  • Email campaigns can be closely monitored throughout their lifecycle, right through to billing and ongoing customer relationship analytics.
  • LinkedIn analytics can be extracted to drive greater insights about prospects and how they are connected across your organisation.
  • Social media sentiment can be monitored to understand what your customers are saying about you, and what factors (posting frequency/type) result in the most interactions or followers.
  • Competitor data can be analysed; across news items, web feeds and social media streams in order to understand how other firms are going to market and performing in comparison with your organisation.

 

Working Within the System

Once a customer or prospect is present within your CRM or PMS system, then it is critical to understand how they engage with your marketing activities and interact with your firm as a whole.

  • Analytics can be used to run reports on what fields within your CRM or Practice Management Systems have not been completed or filled in to drive data best practice behaviour.
  • CRM and PMS databases can now be linked for organisation-wide visibility.
  • The efficacy of marketing campaigns can now be tracked to understand what delivers the most ROI, what resonates the most and what results in the most web traffic.
  • Different marketing tools can be linked together to create a single version of the [marketing] truth – spanning lead generation applications, call data, web traffic and CRM systems.
  • Gamification can be easily delivered to the sales force by creating visual and real-time dashboards of revenue performance to drive specific behaviours across your teams.

 

Managing the Existing Client Base

Revenue generation activities shouldn’t just be targeted at prospects and non-customers, business development analytics should be focused on existing clients and identifying areas to deliver more value to customers who are already purchasing from you.

  • Analytics tools can help you to create client portfolio heatmaps – quickly highlighting what clients purchase and don’t purchase from you by extracting data from the PMS platform.
  • By understanding where your clients are coming from, both in terms of demographics and sources of business, you can more effectively target marketing and sales activities. If the data shows that most of your business comes from referrals from other clients, then your email marketing campaigns may not be delivering worthwhile returns on investment to justify their cost.
  • Uncover trends about why clients leave your firm; what activities take place prior to a client leaving? Is there a series of steps recorded in your PMS system that could point to a support issue across your firm?
  • Better understand churn rates; how often clients leave your practice, how long they are clients for and the ratio of new to existing to lost clients, in order to better understand your business position.

 

The difference with many business analytics is that reporting can be done in real-time, which is critical for planning and executing marketing campaigns when time is of the essence.  Being able to quickly pull a report to understand who has opened your recent e-newsletter, then compare it against the number of new followers on LinkedIn versus how your firm is performing for overall social media followers that month, means you can change course on the fly depending on which marketing activity has proven most effective.

We know there must be many more ways that the firms we work with are starting to deploy analytics tools to their marketing functions – we’d love to hear of any suggestions!

 

To find out more about C24’s business analytics tool, Bi24, and how we work with law firms to deliver tailored analytics solutions then please visit us online at http://www.c24.co.uk/business-intelligence-3/