John Croft: What are your recommendations, Brian, for data collection and data analysis?
Brian Kuhn: For data collection, first and foremost, we need to provide a common set of master data, as I mentioned before. This data would come from questions that inform surveys, many of which we already have. It includes metrics that we pull from billing data that will be common from organization to organization and will provide a road map for what to collect. In other words, an agreement on a list of data, an agreement on how to collect, prove and publish that data internally, that represents a starting place and a best practice. What are we collecting? Where are you today? What’s missing based upon what you need to achieve? And what steps do you need to take to collect it?
Once we have that, we know that we can essentially create a checklist. If you have this data in sufficient volume, we can show you the following sorts of insights. We can show you diversity indicators: disability, age group, religion, race, orientation. We can show you market analysis across diversity. Based upon the various geographies, you as a law department secure outside council representation this way per geo. We can show inclusion indicators that come from surveys. “I feel like I belong. I always feel included, my company cares about me, my firm cares about me, perspectives like mine are included in decision-making.”
In other words, we can look at billing data and see which diverse populations are doing what types of work: document review, research, client meetings. Are people getting meaningful work, or is this token work? And then we see trends over time, and those are often surprising. What that enables is the ability to take different diversity metrics and conflate them. To cross-reference those metrics and see what stories they tell together rather than one by one, which would have been the traditional way of analyzing data. In doing so, we might learn otherwise non-obvious things. We might learn we’re headed in a direction that – congratulations – represents our goals. Or we might learn we’re not, and we need to course-correct.
Jacquie Champagne: John, let me jump in here to acknowledge that this is difficult stuff. It’s rather a vulnerable feeling to have your client get invasive with your data and ask you, “Why are diverse associates not progressing?” Part of what we help do is create more effective strategies. It’s not just, “Let’s point out all the problems.” Law departments, I don’t think, have any intention of beating their law firms over the head. They want to help them and give them that help. That’s where Elevate can come in, facilitating solutions and getting at the root of the issue to provide solutions and ideas that will effectively help over the long term.
John Croft: That’s great. So, if I try and boil down what I’ve heard today, it’s this: We look to understand our customer’s DE&I goal. We then help them gather data and analyze it, and then we jointly create DE&I initiatives with our customers. That’s our offering. Could one of you provide an example of an outcome that’s resulted from this process, or talk about where we’ve seen this work and the impact that it’s had on one of our customer organizations?
Jacquie Champagne: Absolutely. We have worked with customers who’ve been in various stages of the journey. In the beginning, you have to determine how much work you want to put in to determine your DE&I metrics and KPIs. For one customer who is just starting to track their firms, it was important to provide an easy reporting method so they could start gathering data. They wanted to and were sensitive to their firms not being overly burdened by providing this data. It was very important for them to have a solution that included an easy way to report. We’re helping them with that. They needed an effective dashboard and a baseline to measure against. This is also a common thing law departments and law firms want to know – what is everyone else doing, what are we measuring against? We also go outside of legal because the data tends to be better, and companies generally in corporate America are more effective at DE&I strategies. These are questions that customers ask and want to know.
For a law firm customer, finding out where they’re running into roadblocks to associate progression might help support promoting diverse associates to partnership. If you know where you’re falling short, you can create strategies and action plans to course-correct – or create new strategies if the old ones aren’t working. Look at what committees your diverse associates and partners are involved in. Are they powerful firm committees? Are they not so powerful? How are we supporting them? What better ways can we support them? That’s all information that law firms want to know to continue to get ahead of not just hiring diverse associates at the beginning, but retention and promotion, which proves to be some of the biggest problems for law firms.
Brian Kuhn: It’s one thing to have data, and it’s another thing, a better thing, to have data that indicates a trend and therefore acts as a foundation to actions that you might take. In addition to that goodness is journey tracking: the ability to set a course and then see how external organizations perform against that over time. What that gives you beyond the obvious of, are they compliant with our expectations, are they not compliant with our expectations, is a sense of how reasonable certain expectations are. For example, imagine a law firm with some significant DE&I challenges, but also imagine that it just hired a new managing partner, who’s come in in part to change that, that might not show up in the data quite yet.
We don’t want to create a gotcha solution. We want to create a solution that enables journey tracking over time by underscoring the root cause of success or lack of success with certain expectations. Our customers and we can determine if those expectations are reasonable. Since law departments create those expectations and law departments wish earnestly to enable these journeys, we want to make it as easy as possible for them by understanding what creates success – not just showing them who checks a box.
John Croft: Fantastic. Coming to the end of our time, are there any lessons learned or recommendations that we’d pass on for a law department or a law firm – or indeed a law company -who are just beginning to start thinking about their E&I initiative?
Jacquie Champagne: My suggestions and recommendations are understanding your big picture goals and then figuring out the strategies you need to move them forward. The full strategy includes action steps, and it’s really important to remember that taking a long-term approach is completely necessary with diversity, equitability, and inclusion. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. These issues are very entrenched, and you will not make progress until you invest and then measure, measure, measure.
John Croft: Fantastic. Well, look, Brian, Jacquie, thank you very much for joining today. I spend a lot of time with our customers talking to them about this. Most law departments look to improve their equitability, inclusion, and hold their law firm, their outside counsel to the same high standard. I was pleased when I heard that we had a data-driven solution that we could take to the market to help people with this. Thank you very much for coming and talking about this today.