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Sutherland is using big data analytics to drive operational efficiency and improve business development

Sutherland is using big data analytics to drive operational efficiency and improve business development

In a bid to help the business operate more efficiently and aid business development efforts Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, a global legal service provider with several major practice areas, has implemented a big data analytics platform that the firm’s CIO Bob Dolinsky said helps set it apart from the competition.

“Law firms understand why big data is important, but only a few of them have started to undertake and refocus investments on it,” Dolinsky said.

“The firm is always looking at new ways to support the practice – some of that’s infrastructure-related, some of that’s practice systems-related, and some of it is related to the business and management of the firm. Certainly, harnessing the power of big data and analytics to support the practice has to be pretty high up on the list,” he said.

The firm recently worked with Trovus, a business consultancy delivering enterprise IT and data-focused solutions, to implement  a big data analytics platform used to segment and target customers and help market the firm’s services more effectively.

It also uses a number of financial dashboards internally to help track spending and operational efficiency.

Dolinsky explained that part of the challenge being law firms don’t necessarily recognise the value of big data, they must be educated on the benefits, and how to interact with this new kind of technology. So he and the support team set up a series of five minute-long sessions to help guide legal practitioners on how to use the software, eschewing the need to spend hours in training.

“Lawyers are busy people. Some of them will have the time to spend to get up to speed on something quickly, and some just won’t,” he said. “One of the big risks firms run when they invest in and roll out technologies is that they don’t educate the users as to how to use it.”

Stephen DiGennaro , marketing technology manager at the law firm said that the way in which the firm leverages big data is one of the ways it sets itself apart from the competition, in part because the legal community hasn’t yet caught on to the potential effectiveness of these technologies.

“There could be a lack of appetite in big law firms because they don’t know that the potential exists, so if they knew that the potential was out there, they would definitely have the appetite for it,” DiGennaro said.

Dolinsky said that overall, the analytics platform has made the firm more efficient by making the reporting process more fluid, allowing information to be more easily shared across the organisation and making the process of getting buy-in from different stakeholders within the firm much easier.

“At Sutherland we are definitely seeking to invest more in insights. The key challenge is to keep up to speed with all the new technologies that are coming to market. Before, we were planning 5 years ahead. Now we are happy if we can plan a year ahead. There are lots of tools out there, and it is important to keep them on our horizon to see what we might want to invest in in the coming 6 months,” Dolinsky concluded.