Reporting Tips from Legal Operations Professionals: How to Get It Done Right

There’s a business quote you might have heard about analytics: “Data will talk if you listen.” Indeed, savvy corporate legal departments are increasing their investments in legal operations and technology to “hear” how they are performing. In return, legal operations professionals have evolved into dedicated analytics experts, turning data from sources such as e-billing and matter management into cross-departmental bastions of intelligence.

Viatris (formerly Mylan), a global Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company with products marketed in 165 countries and territories, is no exception. Its legal operations team is well versed in capturing and interpreting legal data.  Kristi Anne Gedid, Sr. Director Global Legal Operations, Eric Wallas, Legal Finance Manager and Brandt Gray, Sr. Manager Business Analysis, recently partnered with Onit to share their best practices on legal reporting.

How to Maintain Data Integrity

One of the fundamental steps of reporting is data integrity. We’ve all heard the saying “garbage in, garbage out.” To bypass that result, the legal operations experts at Viatris have these seven tips.

  1. Keep data clean, consistent and concise – It all starts with intake. Any information – whether e-billing, invoices, timekeeper rates or financial data – must be kept clean and compatible with expectations or it won’t tell a true story.
  2. Monitor data moving between systems – Typically, once approvals are reached for invoices, that data moves into a company’s financial system. Then, it often cycles back into an enterprise legal management system to update payment records. Monitor that lifecycle of data movement to ensure no wires are crossed and all data is transferred/updated appropriately.
  3. Remember currency conversions – When you’re working with law firms in different jurisdictions, data undergoes changes based on countries and currency conversions. Ensure the data is always aligned, especially as it moves year-to-year and throughout different companies, benchmarks and exchange rates. Report in the same and consistent currency.
  4. Set consistent parameters – However your accounting function is set to track invoices (billing period dates, invoice payment dates, etc.), keeping this consistent helps with alignment between different business units.
  5. Consider taxonomy – Lean on this scientific process of naming, defining and classifying groups of information based on shared characteristics. This is especially important when you’re moving data from an old e-billing system to a new one. Don’t give a thousand drop-down options when 20 will suffice.
  6. Blend data – If you’re introducing other data sources from other systems or even spreadsheets, try to keep blended data clean.
  7. Update data – Ensure everyone is aligned when making modifications to your enterprise legal management system, such as adding fields. These changes will have to be incorporated into reporting and accurately reflected.

The legal operations team also shared their tips on identifying basics like big numbers, providing data-driven answers and the best ways to drill down into data. Visit here to hear their entire discussion. Titled “Legal Operations Reporting Done Right,” it is part of Onit’s Lean into LegalOps online learning initiative. You can sign up to join the complimentary program that connects legal operations professionals around the world here.


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