In the tech world, data is a hot topic these days. You hear about it all the time. But in legal, the topic of data rarely comes up, unless it’s some security breach or privacy issue. In typical legal industry fashion, we are behind the times when it comes to leveraging data for business purposes. In this post, we explain the notion of data quality, explain how to improve law firm data quality, and examine the importance of these concepts to running a successful law practice.
What Is Data Quality?
Data in itself isn’t really valuable unless it can be utilized, and in order to be utilized, it must be quality data. According to Gartner, data quality can be assessed using the following criteria:
- Existence (does an organization have data at all?)
- Validity (are the values of the data acceptable?)
- Consistency (does data that exists in multiple locations always have the same value?)
- Integrity (are the relationships between data sets correct?)
- Accuracy (does the data accurately describe the object it is meant to model?)
- Relevance (is the data appropriate to support business objectives?)
In other words, in order for data to be useful, you need to capture the right kind of data, structure it properly, and do it consistently.
Many Law Firms Have Low Quality Data
Many law firms are storing very little data at all. The only data they have might just be an Excel spreadsheet of contacts that hasn’t been updated for a while, or the countless emails in their inbox. For these firms, the actual existence of data is in question.
Others may have more data, but that data is scattered about through a multitude of different software programs, spreadsheets, and databases that aren’t updated regularly. This data lacks consistency, and may not be accurate or relevant to business objectives.
Firms that are ahead of the curve are using a cloud based case management system to create more structure around their data. These systems can store data about contacts, matters, bills, notes, and files. This data exists, and it should be valid and relevant as long as the case management software is used appropriately and updated regularly.
Using a case management system is definitely a step in the right direction, but even firms who are using software to run their practices could probably get more value from their data than they are currently.
With competition getting increasingly fierce in the legal market, leveraging data to make better decisions will give you a significant leg up on competitors. Below are some examples of why data is so important, and suggestions for how law firms can strive to improve the quality of their data.
Why Having High Quality Law Firm Data Is So Important
1. More Efficient Operations