A legal data design jam.

A legal data design jam.
We make no apology for the use of buzzwords in this blog post – this was the world’s first legal data design jam and innovation often inspires criticism from the more conservative elements of the profession. Read on to go beyond the language and see how smart use of data coupled with a service design approach can help law firms and clients evolve.  Click here to go straight down to our infographics of the solutions.

The Janders Dean Horizons 2017 conference was characterised by innovation, bold thinking and the irreverence typical of Janders Dean. As the legal industry around the world knows, this isn’t a conference filled with stale talks with equally stale coffee. It was jammed with edgy speakers, bold predictions and even bolder drinks.

What happened?

To match the tone of the event we brought together 15 of the UK top 50 law firms for a design jam (you can find out more about our “jamming” process from last year here). This year, we set about using data to tackle law firm challenges surrounding the four themes of: clients, risk, capacity and diversity.

Who did this?

  • Two of the team from our friends at Janders Dean UK
  • 5 expert facilitators from LexisNexis product development team
  • 15 of the UK Top 50 law firms
  • 30 diverse volunteers from different firms, backgrounds and skills
  • 1 doughnut supplier (big thanks to Crosstown!)

Where do you even start…?

The starting point was the provocative statement that data is eating the world and law firms need to adapt. Many enterprising law firms are already starting to meet this data opportunity with commercial offshoots, joint ventures and partnerships with data analytic enterprises.

What were the challenges?

Each team was levelled a challenge – to use data to tackle a problem facing law firms. The problem questions faced by the five teams were:

Team 1: How can law firm data be used to improve the firm's approach to diversity?

Team 2: How can law firms allocate work more effectively?

Team 3: How can law firms get clients to trust them with service delivery?

Team 4: How can law firms use diversity to win pitches?

Team 5: How can a law firm and client work together with data to enhance the client's risk portfolio?

How did the teams approach these challenges…?

The teams followed a clear progression of focus – identify, empathise, define, collect and prototype. Expertly led by the LexisNexis product dev team, they were steered to work together and take a phased approach to the challenge. What data can we collect now? What data should we be able to collect? How will the person use this? Who is the user? How can we present this in a clear manner? How will the insights lead to action?

By using post-it notes, flip-charts and listening to the experts and facilitators, the ‘jammers’ narrowed in on their challenge and started sketching out the requirements. While many in the main conference were sitting and listening to great talks, the legal data design team were actively discussing, debating, scribbling, drinking coffee, munching on jam doughnuts and mocking up some wireframes and dashboards of potential prototypes.

 click image to enlarge

 So…what were the solutions?

Each of the five teams finished the jam by presenting a vision of a data-based solution to the challenge. These took the form of prototypes of an app, a dashboard or useful data visualisations. Taking the presentation notes, various sketches and wireframes, LexisNexis worked with a design agency to create some professional infographics of the different challenges. Below is a description of each solution accompanied by an infographic.

  1. Team 1

I don’t know how diverse my firm is and I don’t how to convey that! This was the more precise challenge Team 1 decided to answer. Their response was to create an app which would present data to internal users (partners, HR and other leaders) of the firm's diversity relating to gender, disability, ethnicity and languages spoken.  The idea is to create a more accessible and readily understandable presentation of a firm’s diversity. The below infographic combines some visualisations from Team 4's diversity solution.


click image to enlarge

  1. Team 2

This team created a capacity management dashboard to answer a common challenge in law firms of how to allocate work more effectively. By pulling together data on staffing availability, skills and other key metrics, this tool would enable users to better allocate work.

click image to enlarge

  1. Team 3

Clients don’t trust law firms with service delivery. This was the challenge that Team 3 boldly undertook to resolve by using data and creating an app with an internal (partner) view and external (client) view. This app would show these users a number of key data points to give them confidence in the progress of matters to date. Metrics like: total spend, actions taken so far, work in progress etc.

click image to enlarge

  1. Team 4

How can law firms use diversity to win pitches? This was the commercial angle Team 4 took to the broader challenge of improving diversity within law firms. By showcasing a firm's diversity, Team 4 were hoping to use this as a key differentiator amongst the competition. They presented a data visualisation that could be used to elegantly show a firm’s global presence, gender diversity, disability diversity and ultimately correlated client satisfaction with levels of diversity. Elements of their solution are represented in the diversity infographic above.

  1. Team 5

How can a law firm and client work together with data to enhance the client's risk portfolio? GC’s need reliable information on risk and to more readily identify risk hotspots. Relationship managers at law firms need to more commercially relevant to clients to truly become trusted advisors. By harnessing data on the levels of regulatory change, resourcing levels and unbilled time, Team 5 presented a dashboard to meet this challenge.

click image to enlarge

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Small steps towards a data-centric future

At the end of the day, each team presented their prototypes to the main conference audience. It was clear that all involved had come together beautifully to produce some real prototypes and demonstrate how a more data-centric commercial approach could benefit the profession. While this is only a small step, contributing to the evolution of the profession in a single day is no small feat.


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About the author:
Mark is one of the Dispute Resolution blog’s technical editors. He qualified as a lawyer in Australia and worked in private practice before joining LexisNexis. In addition to contributing to the Dispute Resolution blog, he also writes for a number of LexisNexis blogs, including the Future of Law blog.