How Aligning Legal Project Management and Pricing Can Drive Inclusion | Clock

Recently, we hosted our second joint webinar with Elevate, looking at the single source of truth in data. We were joined once again by Royale Price, Director of Pricing and Business Management at Greenberg Traurig; and Stephen Allen, VP doing the work at Elevate (yes, we also think more job titles should look like this). Our very own CEO, Pieter van der Hoeven, joined in to ask questions and share insights from a Clocktimizer perspective.

This time around, the focus was more directly on the role of data in resource management. Our panelists shared the role data can play in staffing issues, supporting diversity efforts, and improving communication between your LPM and Pricing teams. Given how helpful this information is, we’re sharing a broader summary of all their advice for those who weren’t able to attend the webinar. A recording of the session is available here.

Data and communication

We stopped our latest webinar examining the importance of data to support LPM and pricing efforts. This time around, the panel began to explore how data can also connect and improve the way these teams work together. For Royale, integrating LPMs into the pricing process adds a layer of practical information often missing from pricing.

LPM teams will understand the details of how and why a case has been handled in the past. They are better able to explain why one motion to dismiss has cost so much more than another. This type of information is invaluable to pricing teams as it enriches their data sets.

Likewise, as Stephen pointed out, pricing teams will take a more strategic view of a company’s positioning. They can take into account if the work will improve the brand or if the client has sufficient cash. This data can deepen the relationship with the customer and strengthen your position in the market.

Practical advice for communicating LPM and Pricing

The two panelists shared some key tips for getting teams talking:

  • Consider splitting pricing and LPM teams along practice lines. This gives teams the same frame of reference when scoping and pricing and facilitates collaboration.
  • Integrating specific Pricing or LPM specialists into everyone’s teams ensures that expertise is always at hand.
  • If your teams aren’t talking to each other yet, start small. Have the pricing and LPM teams regularly share work they review or present to identify other specialists who may be helpful. Opening conversation lines is essential.

Don’t just analyze the past, predict the future

For many law firms, most of the scope and pricing of a case is based on historical matters. The challenge comes when the staff you priced for is no longer available. As a result, the only person capable of doing the work is at the Senior Partner level, and your budget is cut.

For Stephen, this problem is all too familiar. At Elevate, one of the biggest challenges is knowing when a deal is going to start and planning schedules accordingly. To work around this problem, Elevate works with a qualified resource manager. They are responsible for attaching probabilities to work and balancing workloads accordingly. Their system works by:

  • Break down agendas into manageable deadlines. At Elevate, they’re looking at the next three months of work, both confirmed and probable.
  • Assign each job a percentage, indicating the likelihood of it occurring. Work with a percentage between 60 and 90% must be planned and balanced equally between teams

As Royale noted, resource management like this can be supported by early warning systems. Platforms like Clock allow quick monitoring of the issues a timekeeper is working on. By setting up notifications, you can immediately identify if a lawyer is going to manage their caseload or if you need to find an alternative solution by talking with your client.

Build a flexible approach to resource management

The drop in the billable hour has created a problem for law firms, according to Stephen. The financial buffer that previously existed in business has been reduced as customers demand more transparency in fee agreements. This means resource management needs to take a more flexible and proactive approach.

For Royale at Greenberg, that means embracing technology wherever possible. Instead of recruiting 8 juniors for exam, you can recruit one, supported by software like Luminance or Ravn.

“There are huge opportunities to use alternative resources, especially when using fixed fees to recoup technology costs and reduce internal costs. This drives down external prices, making you more competitive.” Royale Price, Director of Pricing and Business Management at Greenberg Traurig

For Stephen, smart use of LPM and resource management can distribute the workload. Identifying patterns in data can help companies decide whether to hire flexible workers, outsource work, or seek to automate it. For example, if LPMs identify that due diligence work is on hold because the corporate team is overloaded, they can transfer it to a banking team. However, if the work is more specialized, but ad hoc, they may recommend outsourcing. Starting with data enables smarter choices that benefit the business financially in the long run.

Both panelists also highlighted the importance of opening up communication between your resource managers and their respective client-side counterparts. In Royale’s experience, customers are consistently willing to adopt technology when it supports their goals. If using due diligence software allows them to check all documents, instead of just a sample for the same price, it ultimately benefits the client.

Diversity data

Diversity is paid for more than lip service by customers. Every tender that Greenberg Traurig worked on last year had a diversity component. Coca Cola introduced a diversity requirement of at least 30% for its external advisory teams earlier this year. But how can data support diversity efforts in companies?

Our three panelists had these helpful tips:

Use technology – Stephen noted the importance of spreading out the work so that no one person or group is overwhelmed. Tools like Clocktimizer’s Social Graph visually chart who is working with whom on topics. This way you can ensure that the work is distributed fairly.

Review the type of work assigned – Pieter shared a case study of a company that looked at the type of work assigned to people of different ethnicities or backgrounds. They could identify patterns that could then curb diversity. If people of a certain sex are always given certain types of work, or less complex work, it can prevent them from progressing in their careers. Identifying problems allows companies to find a solution.

Ensure contributions are meaningful – Symbolism does not help anyone. For Royale, it’s important to use data to ensure that various teams are allowed to make meaningful contributions to questions, rather than being added for show. Digging into the seniority and hours spent on a case can help build this insight and show room for improvement.

Backup data with action – For all the panelists, simply collecting data on diversity is not enough. Entry-level legal professionals are now slightly more female-friendly than male-friendly, but this gender parity is still not reflected at the board level. It is essential to combine data insights with changes that support data findings.

Change doesn’t have to be perfect

“All you need to innovate is for tomorrow to be better than today” Stephen Allen, VP of Getting Things Done at Elevate

In conclusion, our panelists each emphasized that change doesn’t have to be perfect. As Pieter noted, if you improve in 1% per day, the cumulative effect over one year is still dramatic. Just using your data to continually improve your resource management, diversity, and LPM efforts will add up quickly. What’s important is to start moving rather than waiting for the perfect solution or decision to arrive.