4 Reasons Data Silos Are an Issue for the Legal Industry and How to Overcome Them
This article is a featured guest post from Loretta Jones, VP Growth of Acceldata.
The smooth flow and effective use of data is important to all businesses, but data silos are often a hindrance to important business information getting where it needs to go and being used effectively even when it arrives. The legal industry is no exception to these challenges, with the difference being that the stakes can be higher for law firms and legal departments compared to many businesses—since delays or mistakes in issues related to legal matters can have huge and lasting negative impacts on their clients. This post will share how data silos affect law firms and legal departments and how technology can help them overcome the problem.
Why the Legal Industry Must Identify and Break Down Data Silos
1. Legal Professionals Work Within an Increasingly Complex Data Landscape
Internal investigations, compliance mandates, and due diligence are increasingly reliant on digital forms of data being collected, stored, shared, and utilized. From text messages and emails to digital records of internal processes, law firms and legal departments are expected to have effective systems in place to track and manage digital information so it will be easy to access and analyze when the need arises.
This is in direct contrast to the way some law firms and legal departments collect case information and court records. Outdated collection processes lead to data being stored within insular information management systems. This prevents firms from optimizing research and retrieval processes and consolidating and standardizing information-gathering across the organization.
2. Siloed Data Results in Slow and Inefficient Legal Services Delivery
Information being stored in disparate data management systems prevents legal departments from quickly accessing the information they need to deliver insights and guidance in a timely manner. A recent study from Gartner revealed that departments with efficient and modern processes are able to deliver legal advice faster and are less likely to require additional, unplanned work.
This delay is often at the expense of client satisfaction and operational efficiency. Information collected using outdated processes is also more likely to be inaccurate or incomplete, which can lead to costly rework or poor legal advice being delivered to a client.
3. Operational Blind Spots Can Lead to Resources Being Underutilized and Opportunities Going Unrecognized
While law firms are often separated into highly specialized departments with unique needs, information gathering processes can be standardized across an organization. This is especially true following the introduction of modern legal databases that consolidate legal information from a wide variety of case types and sources.
However, information silos force individual teams and practice groups to develop and maintain their own collection processes and to sign up for specialized database management programs. This discourages teams from accessing records that are not directly related to their specialization, which can impede complex cases and cause available resources to go unrecognized and underutilized.
4. Fragmented Data Processes Significantly Increase Business Costs
A vast majority (82%) of small law firms are increasing their use of technology specifically to cut costs. Data issues and poor information gathering processes can mean increased working hours, lost customer satisfaction, and missed opportunities at law offices. Fragmented data processes also lead to legal teams identifying and fixing incomplete or inaccurate information after it is found—instead of proactively preventing data issues. Modern legal databases and data management processes allow legal departments to view critical case information and operational data on their chosen device, regardless of location. This makes important information easily accessible and improves efficiency in collecting data and delivering legal advice to clients.
How Software Can Help Close the Gaps Between Data Silos
Replace Antiquated Information Gathering Systems With Modern Data Management Tools
Antiquated information gathering systems are time intensive, highly prone to human error, and can be incomplete or inaccurate. Legal professionals can improve these processes with a powerful combination of a comprehensive legal database and a fully-integrated internal data management system. This allows them to access external information while fully cataloging operational and internal data for use when needed.
The consolidation of this information also allows business leaders to identify areas for improvement, highlight potential business opportunities in past cases, or reference previous strategies to better serve existing clients.
Consolidate Electronic Data to Enable Improved Cross-Utilization of Resources
Strategies, legal information, and case data are regularly cross-referenced from other cases. This is especially true for more complex cases that are more difficult to categorize into a single specialization. Law firms can manage this by making resources easily accessible across internal department boundaries.
Cloud-based data management systems can help consolidate information storage and management across multiple geographic locations, departments, and device types. Modern solutions also make it easy to limit access to highly sensitive client information while providing widespread access to data that is less sensitive but still valuable.
Improve Interdepartmental Communication and Collaboration by Introducing Fully Integrated Information Sharing Systems
The barriers to collaboration and communication are not always technical. Businesses must also overcome cultural barriers to collaboration. However, integrating key information gathering systems across the entire organization significantly increases the likelihood of team members reaching out to their counterparts in other departments for help on specific issues.
Consolidating legal and operational data across the entire business also empowers team members to quickly identify and resolve data issues. Business leaders receive a holistic view of their operation and can highlight areas where strategic decision making will have the most impact.
The legal industry can be slow to adopt new technologies. As the amount of information that legal professionals must manage grows and becomes more digitized, they must adapt. For them to be effective and efficient, data must flow between departments and be easily accessible at all times for analysis and use. Legal professionals must also be assured that the information they retrieve is complete, accurate, and reliable.
Data observability platforms allow legal professionals to manage an increasingly complex data landscape without excessive financial outlay or additional staff. With technology providing law firms and legal departments the help they need to close gaps in information gathering and sharing processes, they can finally modernize their operations to serve their clients more effectively and efficiently.
Guest Author Bio:
Loretta Jones is VP Growth at Acceldata.io with extensive experience marketing to SMBs, mid market companies and enterprise organizations. She is a self proclaimed ‘startup junkie’ and enjoys growing early stage startups. She studied Psychology at Brown University and credits this major to successful marketing as well as navigating a career in Silicon Valley. She’s a nature lover and typically schedules her vacations around the migratory patterns of whales and large ocean creatures.