Learn from case value patterns to discover how to maximize the value of cases
For decades, big enterprises have been combining data analysis tools (analytics) with dashboards to monitor all of their key performance indicators (KPIs) as well as overall operational health. Dashboards are also now commonplace on purpose-built platforms for social media monitoring, customer relationship management (CRM), marketing, and even utilities!
The reason dashboards have become more commonplace is because they are so useful: they empower leaders to make better-informed decisions more quickly, leveraging critical data in an era where changes happen faster than ever. If you take the time to play around in your phone's settings, there's no doubt a dashboard or two available to tell you about things like data usage, screen time, battery consumption, and more.
Thanks to platforms like Truve, law firm partners and operators can use their own dashboards in combination with data analytics in order to monitor KPIs vital for their daily operations, just like world-leading enterprises do!
Such a dashboard can display information like:
Additionally, advanced AI models (such as the ones created specifically by Truve) can enable law firm operators to predict which business decisions have the highest chances of helping them achieve their business goals, such as increasing profits-per-case.
In sum: Using dashboards is the key to not only making firm management easier but also more profitable, making it possible to achieve scalable growth and evolve into the most profitable version of your firm over time
Gartner defines a dashboard as follows: Dashboards are a reporting mechanism that aggregates and displays metrics and key indicators so they can be examined at a glance by all possible audiences. Dashboards help improve decision making by revealing and communicating contextual insights into metrics to display indicators with intuitive visualization, including charts, scales, gauges, and traffic lights that show indicator progress toward defined goals.
This broad definition, however, misses some of the specific ways a law firm might use a dashboard as well as the types of dashboards it might use.
Law firm dashboards typically work by:
Gathering all of the relevant data into one place, from key technologies and platforms that you use
Processing the data so that it can all be compared to one another in ways that make sense
Using features of the data (called fields and meta descriptors) to arrange the data into specific categories so that it can then be displayed in meaningful ways
Display the data using the most-appropriate formats, including lists, tables, charts, graphs, color-coding, and other means of visualizing the data in ways that make sense and also spark deeper understanding
While that may sound a bit technical, the beauty of dashboards for law firms is that once they are set up they can be operated with little to no technical know-how needed.
Dashboards are designed to be intuitive: both in their displays and the tools used to change how the data is represented. Speaking of the latter capability, most dashboards provide the ability to group, sort, filter, and reorganize data while also changing the way it is displayed.
When using dashboards, the goal is always to answer critical questions without having to make difficult calculations or time-consuming tallies each and every time.
Think about the display you see when you log into your online banking system. When's the last time you balanced your checkbook manually? Something as simple as listing a current account balance makes your life easier while giving you the opportunity to make smarter decisions with less effort.
Some key features of modern dashboards law firms might use include:
Configurable data sources - While many dashboards only hook up to one data source (e.g. your Facebook account), more-powerful versions can take in data from multiple sources, which you have the freedom to select and change.
Multiple views and visualizations - The default display on dashboards is now almost always customizable, or at least provides you with the ability to change how the data is depicted (e.g. a line graph vs a pie graph for consultation bookings by lead source)
Ad-hoc reporting - Instantly generate a new report with the exact information needed on the most-appropriate type of table, graph, chart, or display.
Sifting, sorting, filtering - When looking at large data sets (as opposed to summaries), some platforms have the ability to arrange, sort, or filter data to only display what's needed or to show the same data from a different perspective.
Drill-down - Many dashboards now have the ability to show you more about a specific data record or display through just a few clicks, bringing you to a detailed view listing more-specific records or a lower category in the same type of data.
Sandboxing (What If?) - Since dashboards were created to help people answer questions and make decisions, many are now capable of displaying what would be different in the present or the future if something were changed. For example, what would profits be if the hourly billing rate for associates was increased?
Views by role - Many dashboards feature the ability to assign different users within the organization to different roles, providing helpful default settings while restricting access to sensitive (or perhaps irrelevant) information
AI-Enhanced predictive and prescriptive analytics - More on these below!
There are many different types of dashboards a law firm may already be using (or may at least be familiar with) including some of the ones mentioned briefly above.
To list a few in more detail, here are some of the types of dashboards most commonly used in law practices as well as the legal profession, generally:
CRM dashboards - Most commonly used for leads, but can also be used to view current clients. Common displays include: Lead funnel by status, forecasting, sales activities, daily view, lost leads by reason, and more.
Social media dashboards - Shows reach, exposure, engagement, clicks, as performance etc including top-performing posts and trend graphs for results over time.
Project management and task-tracking - Platforms like Trello, Asana, monday.com, and even Jira are becoming more-common within small-to-medium-sized business operations, who use them assigning and tracking tasks key to daily operations.
Case management dashboards - Provides information on case statuses as well as key tasks and information, helping firms understand case lifecycle, types of cases handled, success criteria, legal team performance, the profitability of cases, case team load, etc.
Practice management and operations - A relatively rare form of dashboard for law practices, these business intelligence (BI) platforms can bring together data from all of the above types of dashboards in order to create one single, accurate view of all relevant metrics across all areas. Note that Truve is currently the only platform specifically designed to make this achievable and as effective as possible for attorneys.
Call tracking dashboards - Recording all incoming calls and tracking trends by source, time of day, calls-to-closed lead, etc.
Marketing dashboards - Displaying current engagement and reach by channel while connecting these exposures to activities like case referrals, calls, and more
Finance dashboards - Tracking income on a per-case level and aggregated across department/case types, while also tracking trends in income by category, change over time, etc.
Client service dashboards - Displays key information to inform client management and keep cases on track, such as checking case status and milestones for client service technologies
Team productivity dashboards - Align teams on goals and important tasks while tracking their performance by area, over time, etc.
Data on its own can be quite powerful as an informational tool. However, there are increasingly advanced methods of processing data using machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). AI/ML has the capability to read trends, patterns, and even predictions within data in ways that would be difficult or impossible for human beings - especially those already on a busy schedule! These revelations are often collectively called "insights," and they represent one of the most-advanced capabilities of data analytics currently available.
To understand better why AI is so powerful and useful, it helps to consider
how it adds to the already-awesome capabilities of data analytics.
Analytics - the ability to handle large amounts of data and make sense of it - is often described of in four main stages, with each stage displaying more sophisticated and useful capabilities:
simply represent the data you're already creating and using every day in an easy-to-understand format, along with some of the features listed above like sort, filter, etc.
are capable of reading patterns within the data to uncover key issues or opportunities, often before they are visible to the human eye.
Examples include triggered alerts when lead inquiries fall below a specific threshold or automated drill-down capabilities to see why certain cases have below-average earnings performance.
takes current and historical data along with seasonal trends and other known factors, leveraging AI/ML models to forecast where KPIs are headed in the near future.
While these predictions are not always accurate, they can inform business leaders about needed interventions as well as opportunities worth capitalizing on further.
use diagnostics and predictive capabilities in combination with purpose-built AI/ML models to recommend specific actions in light of the goals and parameters set by business leadership.
Truve's Case Value Estimator, for example, not only notes which cases could be most profitable and what you can do to maximize the values of your cases, but it can also make recommendations to take in specific cases or refer them to other attorneys.
The abilities to predict and prescribe using AI is undeniably impressive, but many businesses often lag behind in investing in the more-advanced forms of analytics. This decision to forego any sort of data strategy and planning is particularly common in smaller and medium-sized businesses, like law firms.
Unfortunately the reluctance to advance (or lack of recognition of the opportunity) holds firms back greatly, while causing them to fail to invest in one of their most valuable resources: their own data. A 2022 Harvard Business Review Consulting White Paper observed "innovators and leaders at the technological forefront of the legal industry have not really tapped into the potential in these classes of analytics. While a few teams have explored some narrow applications, most organizations have not even contemplated these levels."
While benefits gained from having advanced AI-driven analytics available to use on your dashboard are not guaranteed, they do enhance firms' abilities to make decision-making more data-driven. Instead of guessing what may be the optimal decision - or, worse, letting a huge opportunity to pivot towards greater performance slip by - firm leaders can stay informed and on top of trends that have the significant capacity to affect the trajectory of their practice's success.
"Prescriptive analytics anticipates what, when and, importantly, why something might happen. After considering the possible implications of each decision option, recommendations can then be made in regard to which decisions will best take advantage of future opportunities or mitigate future risks."
Truve's dashboards for legal professionals provide access to some of the most advanced and powerful AI-driven dashboard capabilities with minimal onboarding and a relatively low investment. Benefits include the ability to do things like:
Learn from case value patterns to discover how to maximize the value of cases
See sources of profit and loss to determine whether specific interventions or new policies are needed
Create a growth plan using "What If?" queries alongside predictive and prescriptive AI
Optimize your marketing spend between different channels based on performance and preferred case mix, etc.
Track performance by role and employee to indicate merit, inform training/policy, and identify your top sources of productivity
Truve simplifies practice management, connecting information systems into one central data hub. Unique machine learning insights and customizable dashboards help law firms focus on the most profitable parts of their business.Learn More
There are countless benefits to using a dashboard to manage
and visualize data for your legal practice. Here are five of the
top ones we would highlight:
Businesses - and especially law firms - are creating more data than ever through the digital tools they use and the daily activities wrapped up within them. As more law firms resort to digital tools, including cloud-based technologies, they are generating vast amounts of information that lies in different places. Day-to-day aspects like calls made, cases closed, and new incoming referrals all tell a story when put together, but getting this single view can be challenging.
In the words of popular CRM Salesforce: "as more and more data is captured and analysed, it becomes increasingly difficult for organisations to accurately gain a succinct overview of what that data is telling them." Further, Salesforce's insights show them "30% of users say that they have trouble identifying useful data."
A platform like Truve is capable of aggregating all data across all of the most common and most useful tools attorneys use. Users no longer have to dive into individual tools and reporting tabs for each platform.
Even more useful: Truve enables law firms operators to represent data from tools that don't have easy access to reporting, while also bringing multiple sources together in ways that can enlighten. Tracking a client's journey from social media click to phone call to new case to closed settlement, for example, can be extremely challenging when each part of the journey is siloed into a different platform. Truve puts it all together to show the journey as a seamless whole.
The power of bringing all pertinent data into one platform is that law firm leaders can make data-informed decisions with minimal effort and next to no latency.
Using a dashboard, firm leaders and operational personnel can monitor KPIs like earnings, case loads, leads-to-close ratio, call intake, and more at a glance, using highly informative visual representations like bar graphs, line graphs, pie charts, and health "meters" tracking progress towards KPI goals.
Having this information ready-to-use has the effect of giving the big picture with clarity and confidence. It also helps for daily/weekly check-ins when setting priorities, delegating tasks, or deciding on big moves that could be on the horizon.
Importantly, dashboards also create an indisputable "single source of truth" so that all stakeholders can back up opinions and observations with metrics while aligning them on the status of current performance - as well as possible future improvements.
Platforms like Truve enable custom views curated especially for the role of the person logging in, as well as the ability to generate new views or reports on-the-fly. These features help anyone in the firm find answers to any burning questions or set perspectives at the appropriate "angle" so that information is made clearest to facilitate the tasks at hand
For the average law firm, many answers to questions they may have can be found within the data using the current tools they have - at the cost of time and effort.
Generating reports or even answering a question as simple as "how much money would we make if every case closed or was referred out today?" can involve hours upon hours of manual data collection and normalization work, not to mention plenty of "intimate time" with spreadsheets.
Dashboards automate data import on a regular basis, often in near-real-time so that any incoming changes are reflected soon after. Once the import and automation work is completed, there's no need to slog in Excel, or to even really think too hard about the task of obtaining an up-to-the-moment view of focal KPIs.
Efficiencies can be gained through insights in the data, too. For instance, an understanding of client leads by marketing channel can help firm's understand where their greatest strengths and weaknesses lie when it comes to online visibility, helping them decide where the biggest return on investment could lie. Insights like these can help firms boost productivity and make key decisions in light of where the biggest opportunities lie, including what roles to hire, what responsibilities to assign particular administrative roles, and what cases typically net the highest grosses.
When viewed through a dashboard, data represented through analytics can be highly descriptive and aid in goals like diagnosing issues like biggest sources of costs.
Artificial intelligence paired with machine learning can leverage data further, discovering compelling insights that have the capacity to transform how a firm operates.
For example, Truve's Case Value Estimator can instantly answer "How much could this case be worth?" any time a call comes across an attorney's desk. On an individual level, this information can help them decide when to take a case, when to refer it out, or when to suggest that the lead looks for a more-appropriate remedy to their issues. On the firm level, partners and other business leaders can come together to decide which cases they should focus on most, based on their own success rate, their capacity to take such cases on, the volume of cases in their service region, and other key factors
Just like that, daily data can come together like pieces of a puzzle to form a picture that suddenly reveals with clarity what direction the firm could head in to seek future success and higher profits.
One of the biggest superpowers of data-backed decision-making is that it is never a "one and done" affair. Small and big decisions made on a regular basis reveal their effectiveness through the data, empowering firm leaders and staff to steer operations towards the most-effective means to achieve their specific goals.
The continuous improvement process is outlined further below, but in a nutshell the goal is to look at the data, form a hypothesis on how to improve specific metrics, measure results, and then adjust the strategy iteratively in order to chase higher and higher performance.
Getting started on adding a dashboard for law firm operations to your practice's toolset can be relatively easy compared to many other business decisions. On average, a firm can go from a procurement decision to having their data visible in front of them in a period of just a few weeks.
Before they can get to that point, however, the firm has a few key decisions and tasks ahead of it. By following the process below, they can be well on their way towards harnessing the power data-driven decision-making can offer.
Set very clear goals and expectations for the outcome of your procurement.
Establish a list of criteria so that the platform you choose has the highest chances of meeting most (or all) of your needs with minimal drawbacks.
Another important criteria is that most products available to law firms (and other service focused SMEs) end up siloing data further based on the product's function (e.g. CRM vs call intake). Truve is the only product currently offering an end-to-end view across all of the most popular tools and environments, enabling a 360° understanding of a firm's operations and opportunities.
Adding data sources can be as simple as a few clicks, with many dashboards now offering veritable "plug and play" with the most common and popular services like Salesforce.
At the same time, firms need to remember that the quality of insights they obtain is directly proportional to the quality of data imported. In other words: garbage in = garbage out.
Improving data quality can end up being a project - one that is worthwhile but that nevertheless introduces latency to the onboarding process. Top-to-bottom audits of current records are beneficial (and often necessary), but often the best thing is to set new policies here-and-now so that records are consistent and complete moving forward.
Create a data quality project team to inventory all data sources and check for completeness, cleanliness, consistency, and comparability.
Make sure you have a complete inventory of all relevant sources! Common data sources to link into your dashboard include:
Most dashboards will have either a default display or a quick set-up "wizard" in order to help you get started by displaying the most useful information. Even still, it is highly beneficial to do at least a quick walkthrough of all of the available display options. Many platforms now have helpful walkthroughs, tutorials, videos, and other resources available to help you get started off on the right foot.
Customer success teams are vital during these first few days of "turning on the lights" so that reporting is accurate.
Be willing to experiment at this stage, especially after the first few weeks have passed. That way, you can be sure to get the most out of all available features, views, and reports available.
Like reports and displays, many KPIs are typically chosen automatically, but there is a strong chance your firm may want custom KPIs based on your business's goals or unique workflow. Review the next section below for more information on choosing KPIs.
Once you successfully begin generating reports and viewing up-to-the-minute metrics, you will want to begin developing a system for taking action based on this information. It's not just "set it and forget it." Knowing is half the battle!
Start by assigning a few key personnel to summarize the data you're seeing and report on relevant trends. Hold a gathering of all top-level and departmental stakeholders to discuss the findings and come up with questions. Continue to observe and begin to develop ideas for improving the numbers you're seeing.
When making strategic changes, develop a hypothesis: "if X, then Y number will improve." Test the hypothesis by observing the specific change's effect on the data. If numbers improve as expected, try more variations, or increase efforts in the one area (e.g. continue to divert more funds to X marketing channel over others in order to raise marketing conversions by Y amount). If numbers do not improve, record findings, and determine another variable to adjust and try.
All part of creating a feedback loop to improve key metrics; a common exercise in areas like marketing and information technology (IT).
For more information on continuous improvement in other industries, see the examples below:
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) represent areas of the law firm that are considered top priorities for improving.
A KPI can be the core measurement for the area of improvement (e.g. "gross profits") as well as a secondary indicator ("change in client volume") or a more-granular measurement of the main KPI ("net revenues per month").
Multiple KPIs can also be combined in order to create highly "expressive" KPIs that create an overall "health score" or big picture of the area being studied. For example, the following formula can be used to evaluate the proportionate effect investing in a specific marketing channel may have:
When choosing a priority KPI to track, remember that the KPI should reveal a potential solution to and/or driving cause behind a challenge rather than just mark the results of operations in general.
As an example, by looking at cost-per-lead, marketing leaders can determine the most-effective marketing channels, leading to more leads generated through less expense, improving practice profits.
Another example: net earnings per client > helping you determine best case types for your practice > specializing in certain case areas to drive profits.
Note that AI, such as the capabilities offered by Truve, can help you automate discovery of KPIs and also prescribe ways to improve them.
For more information on choosing KPIs, take a look at our other article as well as this paper on choosing KPIs for law firms published by the Minnesota Bar Association.
Once implemented, a legal practice's operational dashboard becomes an indispensable resource that can be referred to each and every day for strategic insights.
"Dashboards direct process improvement efforts by converting business data into action-oriented information - helping coordinate actions among all stakeholders (law firm and clients) and assisting in execution of strategic goals. Dashboards assist law firms in establishing the foundation for benchmarking organizational processes through goal alignment across the firm."
Begin inventorying data sources for areas of the firm that contribute value
Assign roles to begin auditing data quality and forming policies to improve it
Cross-compare available dashboards using specific criteria based on firm goals
Reach out to a team to schedule a demo and see what the product can do in action!
Truve's customer success team is available to provide demonstrations, use case presentations,
and more in order to help provide you with as much information as possible.
Start the conversation to learn more about Truve's revolutionary technology.Request a demo