LAS VEGAS – Go for a quick win when launching a metrics program for your in-house legal team, says Amanda Hashfield, director of legal analytics and metrics at Intel.
When she launched the effort to help the company’s legal team make more systematic use of metrics in 2020, she sought an immediate win by automating the way eDiscovery vendors submit their quarterly reports, Hashfield said last week at the 2023 Global Institute hosted by the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) here.
“We had a lot of data from external eDiscovery vendors – Excel spreadsheets that were sent in by email,” she said.
That meant the in-house operations team had to grab the data and put it in a consolidated Excel spreadsheet manually.
By creating a way for the vendors to upload their data directly to the in-house team, that eliminated the manual transfer of the data, saving four hours a month of the team’s time.
It also eliminated the human error that’s part of a manual process, improving data accuracy.
Additionally, the new process revealed that some of the vendors had been interpreting the data request incorrectly. So, Hashfield’s team asked the vendors to go back and restate past submissions so the data could reflect a more accurate historic picture of trends.
“There were no new and different insights,” Hashfield said of the project’s impact. “It just made the process easy. And since they had all this data, it could show trends over time and trends between vendors.”
But as a quick win, it also gave Intel’s in-house legal team and other functions a concrete picture of the value a metrics project can have on legal operations.
“It can show people what can be done,” Hashfield said. “Lights went on in their eyes.”
Hashfield has been with Intel for almost 25 years, starting out in the finance function and later becoming head of its financial planning and analysis (FP&A) team. She moved into legal operations several years ago.
While she was working on the eDiscovery project, she laid the foundation for what the metrics program would look like more broadly by meeting with the general counsel and in-house attorneys to identify the data insights that would help them in their work.
“They didn’t know what they wanted,” she said. “So we changed the questions: ‘Tell me about your business; what would you like to know about your business? What are your pain points?’”
Once she learned their pain points, she could identify data that could help in solving them.
But the meetings had another benefit as well: it got her name out there, both among the in-house legal team but also the broader business functions. That made it easier for her to tap resources and expertise within the company and make cooperation with others easier.
Based on her meetings with the general counsel, she identified what would help increase the value of legal leadership’s role as part of the executive team.
With that as her goal, she created a client satisfaction survey to give a picture of the broader organization’s view of the legal function, mapped out a dashboard so the GC can track litigation and identified data to help the GC get a handle on outside counsel spend.
On outside counsel spend, the data effort enabled the GC to make strategic changes to the three tiers of law firms the legal team works with: premium, market and service.
“The GC wanted to focus on the tiering,” she said.
Hashfield’s team started measuring what the team was spending on each law firm and the type of work and other matters like that and then created visuals so the GC could see the relationship between spending and goals.
As a result of the work, the GC was able to increase spending efficiency by decreasing the amount of money going to firms in the premium tier.
“By measuring this, we were able to decrease the percentage of work to premium firms in the first year,” she said.
As a kind of endorsement of what her team was doing, a new GC who came on board while the project was underway asked her to expand the data insights on the law firm tiers.
So, Hashfield and her team are trying to pull data to give more context around tiering and total outside counsel spend.
The goal is to “highlight things that can change spend amount,” she said.
Another longer-term project her team is working on is an anti-corruption risk analysis tool, something that would be especially helpful for a global company like Intel that works with partners in dozens of countries.
“The anti-corruption team wanted to derive a solution to identify the most risky transactions from closed sales,” she said.
Doing that was beyond the capability of her team at that point, she said, but the company’s internal audit function had just hired a data scientist, so she partnered with the audit team to create a tool that would pull in transaction data and analyze it.
The first iteration of the data analysis wasn’t perfect; it was probably inaccurate by 5-10%, she said, but it was nevertheless useful from a decision-making standpoint.
“The data doesn’t have to be perfect to be useful,” she said. “As long as the direction is right. Directionally, it was correct. As long as you have transparency, it provides good insight before you get perfect data.”
If you want to start a metrics program in your own operation, Hashfield said, don’t make the mistake she did. She waited until after the first year to start documenting how the metrics program, and each tool, works.
The better approach is to start documenting how the program works as you build it. That makes the job easier and more accurate.
You want to document how the program works so its continued operation isn’t reliant on the person who created it, she said. That way the program can continue over time no matter who oversees it or is on the team.
“If you’re successful, you create solutions the legal department can run their business on,” Hashfield said. “It must survive beyond the person who created them. That means you need to document them. It’s best to document when you create it, rather than a year later.”