Using Data Reporting and Business Intelligence To Drive Efficiency in Legal Departments

Catalyst_Using_Data_ReportingA recent survey of chief legal officers suggests that there is a wide gap between the reporting they need in order to more efficiently manage their litigation costs and the reporting they actually get.

In the 2016 Chief Legal Officer Survey recently published by the management consulting firm Altman Weil, CLOs say that the number one tactic they can use to control costs is improving efficiency, and that one of the top ways they can improve efficiency is by leveraging technology tools to better collect and analyze management metrics.

Outside counsel “present a broad target for cost cutting,” the survey says, and are a prime target for management metrics and data analytics. Yet CLOs give themselves only a medium rating in assessing their departments’ effectiveness in analyzing data on outside counsel spending.


A key reason for this is that they are not getting the data they need. When asked how many of their top 10 law firms have provided them with useful spend analysis, 73 percent of CLOs reported that none of them had.

“Although law departments still have much room to improve in this area, it seems that law firms aren’t even in the game,” Altman Weil concludes.

Solving the Reporting Problem

This problem of how legal departments can get the metrics they need to better manage their legal matters was one of the central issues Catalyst set out to address in designing Insight Enterprise, the new e-discovery platform for corporations we unveiled last month. In a series of blog posts here, we’ve been focusing in on this new platform’s features. Today, we’re looking at its enterprise reporting and business intelligence capabilities.

The metrics problem is really two problems:

  • How do you collect the data?
  • How do you turn that data in actionable business intelligence?

Insight Enterprise addresses the first problem – the collection issue – through centralization. With Insight Enterprise, all your matters are managed through a core repository and individual matter repositories, meaning that all your matter-related data is available to be extracted and analyzed.

For reporting, we work with the client to determine what information the client would like to see. We have standard, templated reports, but we can create virtually any reports the client wants. Based on the client’s preferences, we then build a separate data warehouse that pulls information from Insight and from the client’s internal applications on a scheduled basis.

An advantage of the data warehouse is that we can include additional data pertaining to the client’s legal operations, regardless of whether it is in Insight. This could include, for example, law firm billing rates for financial reporting and analysis. We work directly with legal departments to identify the types of data they want to track and then to set up processes to automatically export that data from their systems to the data warehouse.

Any custom data the client chooses to add is in addition to the broad range of data already available in Insight. This is not just data about documents. Consider just some of the metrics Insight Enterprise lets you track: in-house counsel, law firms, contractors, paralegals, invoices, consultants, logins, user activity, time entries, custodians, matters, matter progress, ingestion detail, duplication detail, document metadata, document decisions, review rates and production details.

Turning Data into Intelligence

The second problem, as noted above, is turning all that data into actionable business intelligence. This is where Insight Enterprise really shines. Its reporting dashboards present a wide array of reports in both columnar and chart formats. It can provide information about almost any aspect of one or more Insight sites. In addition, as noted above, when a client gives us additional data, we can chart that as well, integrating it as appropriate with the Insight data.

Insight Enterprise includes various standard reports and a templated layout. However, we can address clients’ individual requests to create custom reports and layouts. We’ve created the standard reports based on our many years of experience in e-discovery and the understanding we’ve accumulated of the metrics that are important to our clients. We bring that same experience to helping clients understand the problems they are trying to address and then building the analytics that will provide that business intelligence.


The best way to understand this is to see it. The image above shows a sample e-discovery management dashboard. As you can see, it provides a quick visual overview of all of a corporation’s matters, documents and custodians, as well as a review summary for active matters and a chart of active matters by inhouse attorney.

Scrolling down the page would show additional information, such as the most active matters for the past 30 days, highlighted metrics for the month, historical trends, and an aging summary of active matters.

Tabs across the top of the dashboard allow the user to select more specific metrics on custodians, ingestion, users and matters.

As you hover over charts and data fields, the cursor changes to a hand. This indicates that you can click there to drill down into more granular metrics. Filters can also be applied to the data, allowing users to view, for example, data related only to a particular custodian or matter.


The view you see above switches from the e-discovery dashboard to a financial dashboard. This is an example of reporting that uses additional data provided by the client – in this case billing rates and invoicing information.

As you can see, this dashboard gives the in-house counsel a broad view across all matters of where they stand financially. Here again, the user can drill down through this data, to track reports specific to matters, law firms, individual attorneys, and vendors. This even shows exactly how much has been spent with Catalyst.

dashboardmobileviewAll of this data can also be viewed from any mobile device. In addition, any report can be downloaded in PDF format or saved and shared with others.

The Bottom Line

Corporate counsel understand that access to meaningful metrics and business intelligence is a key component of enhancing efficiency and driving cost savings in their legal departments. Until now, however, they have seen a wide gap between the metrics they need and the metrics they get.

Insight Enterprise bridges that gap. It provides a sophisticated, graphically compelling window into the key data they need.


About Bob Ambrogi

Bob is known internationally for his expertise in the Internet and legal technology. He held the top editorial positions at the two leading national U.S. legal newspapers, the National Law Journal and Lawyers USA. A long-time advisor to Catalyst, Bob now divides his time between law practice and media consulting. He writes two blogs, LawSites and MediaLaw, co-authors's Legal Blog Watch, and co-hosts the weekly legal-affairs podcast Lawyer2Lawyer. A 1980 graduate of Boston College Law School, Bob is a life member of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation and an active member of the Massachusetts Bar Association, which honored him in 1994 with its President's Award.