Skip to content
legal team best practices
9 min read

The Benefits of a Data-Driven Legal Team

Once upon a time, in-house legal had one job: to protect the business from risk. Using their expertise, legal swatted away unseen dangers and kept the business out of trouble. But in the last decade, their roles shifted along with the business landscape.

Today, the legal team’s role is still to protect the business from risk, but they are also expected to be a strategic partner that helps drive the business forward. That means making decisions based on more than just gut feeling and precedent. It means contributing to the bottom line and proving value. 

It can be hard to prove legal value without the hard numbers to back it up. During a recession, when every dollar matters and companies are trying to do more with less, it’s important for legal to show how they are contributing to the business in a meaningful way. 

This is why having a data-driven legal team is more important than ever.

What Does It Mean to Be a Data-Driven Legal Team?

A data-driven legal team uses data to complement instinct. Because of their legal training, most in-house counsel have a sixth sense when it comes to strategy and tactics for protecting the business and making certain decisions-especially if they’ve been in the game for a while.

But when it comes to increasing (or decreasing) headcount, automating contracts under a certain dollar amount, and implementing technology to supplement the team’s efforts, instinct alone isn’t enough. In a time when budgets are being slashed left and right, having data to show how many contracts you execute quarterly, how frequently you get them done in-quarter, and how many team members work on them goes a long way in demonstrating the output and overall value of the legal team.

Being a data-driven legal team means tracking department output and generating reports that highlight the work your department is doing, prove value, and inform future company-wide and department-specific decisions.

How Data Can Help Prove Legal’s Value and Support Strategic Decision-Making

Here are some ways that being data-driven can help support your team.

Helps Justify Budget

The legal department is infamous for being a cost center. And despite that not being the case, legal has had a hard time getting out from under that reputation, partly because they can’t attach a dollar value to their work. As a result, during budget season, executives might try to slash the legal budget, leaving the department to do even more with even less. 

One way to combat this is by using data to show how you performed against your department goals. Whether your goals were based around performance, cost savings, or tech adoption, illustrating how you met or exceeded your goals shows executives that your allocated budget is money well-spent.

Legal spend data can also help justify budgetary needs. For example, comparing projected to actual spend will highlight spend efficiency and legitimize future spend. Also, data regarding what legal tasks you spend money on – contract review, e-discovery, matter management, and compliance — and the outcome of these initiatives can validate budget requests. 

Boost Your Legal Team's Reputation

Informs Hiring Decisions

Who to hire is yet another decision that often comes from the gut or a visibly burnt-out team. 

Data points like current spend on outside counsel and alternative legal service providers (ALSP) can help you determine whether or not it’s time to increase headcount. For example, what legal matters take up the most of your budget, and would it be more cost-effective to bring on someone in-house to take on those duties?

This can help you figure out when it’s time to hire, or if it’s the inverse when it’s time to scale back your team.

Rationalizes Tech Spend

Legal technology is an important part of the work that modern legal teams do to help their businesses stay competitive. Contract management software, for example, can help take some of the more tedious tasks off your hands and save you time.

Being data driven means being able to quantify the amount of time you save by using the tool. Contract management software can run a pretty penny, and not all are created equally. Use data to validate the ROI and time-to-value (TTV), and justify how the tool helps drive business forward.

In a time of downsizing, software is usually the second to go, right after headcount. But using data from your software to prove value can help you keep your tools.

Give Legal Their Flowers

It’s impossible to prove a negative. When legal protects the company from legal action or negative sanctions, it is hard to prove quantitatively how much trouble the company didn’t get into as a result. As a result, legal is rarely celebrated or recognized for their work. 

Tracking and reporting on litigation outcomes, contract turnaround times, and overall cost efficiency can show the company once and for all the necessary work your team is doing. 


Now more than ever, it’s important that your legal team is data-driven. Relying on instinct alone means legal’s reputation as a cost center remains intact, and all strategy won’t be based on data.

Learn how LinKSquares CLM can help your legal team be more data-driven. Request a demo today.

Christina Sullivan is a Content Marketing Manager at LinkSquares.