UniCourt Influencer Q&A with Othiel Glover of Mayer Brown
Othiel Glover is a leading legal innovator when it comes to bridging together legal data, financial data, operational data, and data science within law firms.
From his nearly two decades of experience working in some of the largest law firms across the globe, including DLA Piper, McDermot Will & Emery, Schiff Hardin, and now Mayer Brown, Othiel has honed his exceptional data modeling skills to enhance law firm profitability and productivity. With data as his guide, Othiel continuously looks for new ways to leverage AI and data to enhance law firm legal services and create more value for firm clients.
We were thrilled to sit down and speak with Othiel about his pathway into the legal industry and his advice for leveraging data within law firms, and we hope you enjoy learning from his insights as well!
UniCourt: Tell us your story. What is your background, and what led you to what you are doing now?
Othiel Glover: Its funny, because when I first left college, I wanted to be an attorney, and we can all see how that turned out as I moved from wanting to go to law school to focusing on data.
My career started when I was a consultant at Schiff Hardin, where I worked on a consulting team that managed project controls for new energy projects around the US.
After almost five years, I realized that traveling four days a week wasn’t for me, so I then switched gears to finance and joined DLA’s global client financial management team, where I managed the billing cycle and reconciliation processes for our top attorneys AKA “rainmakers.” Then in 2019, I furthered my education and skills by getting a business degree in analytics at Notre Dame (GO DOMERS) and landed a role at McDermott doing advanced data analytics for Finance and HR. There, I saw the huge potential and demand for machine learning models and data-driven decision making. This lead to my current role, where I co-lead the data and AI strategies at Mayer Brown.
This opportunity has allowed me to work with an amazing team of innovators and experts in my current department of Legal Innovation and Strategy and IT. It’s a joy coming in everyday and finding new ways to leverage data and AI to enhance our legal services and create value for our clients.
UC: How has your experience working in financial management, project controls, and data analysis at AmLaw firms like McDermott Will & Emery, DLA Piper, and Schiff Hardin shaped the way you approach your current role as the Global Data Innovation Manager at Mayer Brown?
OG: My approach is simple: “let the data guide your analysis.” Different types of data, such as financial, client-matter, or human resource data, require specific approaches to extract the most value from them. I apply this principle at my current role at Mayer Brown, where I leverage data science to solve various legal problems.
My previous roles at McDermott and other firms also helped me develop my data science skills, as data science was always the solution or a key component of the solution for the projects and needs that arose. The best part of this is that the rest of the legal industry is now attuned to data science and AI, and the industry as a whole is better for it.
UC: When it comes to modernizing data infrastructure within the context of large law firms, what are some of the core elements that firms need to have in their own data strategy? Are there any tips or suggestions you can provide on how to develop a robust, long-term data strategy?
OG: The first thing a firm must do before investing in infrastructure, is get the FULL support of firm leadership, otherwise whatever plan is developed, will fail.
If you get that support, the core elements are:
- Reviewing the current data platform and lifecycle.
- Planning to implement a data warehouse and catalog.
- Developing dashboards to leverage the democratized data.
- Reviewing and eliminating any redundancies in the process that result from a data warehouse and catalog.
UC: You recently participated in an insightful panel discussion at Ark National Summit on “Data Ready Legal Departments and Law Firms – Where Should You Be by 2030.” What are some of the key takeaways you can share from the panel discussion, and why is data readiness so critical for law firms?
OG: Many firms are at a comparable stage in their data journeys, and they can benefit from the assistance of some excellent legal tech and consulting companies, such as those that joined me on the panel.
But a key takeaway was to start developing and implementing a data strategy (if you haven’t already), and to appoint a leader as soon as possible. Next law firms should form the relevant committees and begin the process of becoming data driven, while being realistic about the time and resources required. Depending on the firm’s size, this could take four to five years.
UC: How can law firms leverage data modeling and data analytics for better business development, financial management, and overall growth?
OG: Data modeling is essential for enhancing analysis across BD, Finance, and the firm as a whole. For example, BD can use data modeling to link utilization to the firm’s diversity goals and examine how attorneys work on different matters. This way, diverse attorneys can access the opportunities they need and the firm can foster and grow relationships with people from diverse backgrounds.
Data modeling is also vital for Finance to forecast key metrics such as hours, time, billing, and collections. We can use specific multivariate time series models to estimate each metric with high accuracy for 3, 6, or 12 months ahead. The model can be segmented by period, such as daily, weekly or monthly.
Finally, data modeling can help a firm assess its overall growth and performance across various metrics, such as revenue, partner headcount, and PPP (profit per partner). For instance, we can analyze how cross-selling at the matter level affects revenue and matter openings and how it is trending year over year. However, I want to stress that data modeling and analytics are very challenging without clean, secure, and un-siloed data.
UC: What are some of your favorite sayings? What are some real-world examples of how you’ve seen those sayings come to life?
OG: One of my favorite sayings is “let the data be your guide,” which has proved valuable when I need to have tough conversations around the data not showing what a particular stakeholder wants to see or hear.
For example, I once built out a reconciliation analysis for a fixed fee matter worth millions. The managing attorney for the client received the fixed fee amount before any billing, but when the work was done, we were short by 200K. It turned out that the attorney had not considered the currency fluctuations between USD, Pounds, and Euros. Moreover, they had not factored in currency at all when negotiating the fixed fee. So instead of a big fight among the attorneys (US and International), who worked on the matter, I provided a data-driven analysis that showed the error and the write-down each attorney should take to reconcile the matter.
UC: What are your goals for the rest of 2023? What projects are you working on?
OG: I aim to keep implementing our firm’s new data strategy and, above all, to deliver a safe and secure LLM model for Mayer Brown. One note, if you lack the in-house resources to build one, many excellent consulting companies can help. Please get in touch with me and I will assist you with the process.
UC: Where can we learn more about you and your work?
OG: Please reach out to me on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/othieltglover/
Leveraging Data Modeling to Forecast Future Law Firm Success
As Othiel emphasized, using data modeling is a key component of law firm success in the context of forecasting future performance and profitability. While forward-thinking law firms should be using data modeling for their own forecasting, they should also take heed of Othiel’s warning that without clean, secure, and un-siloed data, data modeling and the analytics it produces can be exceedingly difficult to achieve.
We thoroughly enjoyed hearing Othiel’s perspective on all things data, finance, and AI, and are excited to see where the data will guide him next in his career!