Jeffrey Solomon of ELM Solutions explains how well-deployed data analytics can help in-house counsel better serve their companies by managing matters more strategically.

CCBJ: You have been working in the enterprise legal management space for a long time. Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Jeff Solomon: My background is in leading professional services and consulting groups, where I had regular customer contact – working with clients on how they operate and how to help their organization function better, as well as what others in the industry were doing. My focus was really product agnostic from a legal operations perspective. I’ve been in the legal technology space for almost 20 years.

In my newest role with ELM Solutions, I’m heading our Legal Analytics group, which gives me a primary focus on analytics, legal bill review, and expanding and integrating our use of artificial intelligence. Being a good business partner, contributing to a company’s business goals, demonstrating value and improving overall predictability are all aspects of corporate law where data and analytics can make a positive impact.

Given your consulting experience, what have you learned about the common goals and challenges of corporate legal departments?

Much has changed in the last 20 years. At the beginning of my time with ELM Solutions, in particular, we were talking to customers about e-billing and matter management, and providing technology support that was new to them. At this point it’s a different world. E-billing and matter management are table stakes. It goes much deeper than that now.

Law departments, like other companies, are being looked at to find cost savings. As they evolve and mature, the focus shifts to controlling costs, increasing efficiency and improving outcomes, and even beyond. At ELM Solutions, we talk about total spend management, which effectively leverages people, data and technology to meet challenges, and we have many experts and tools that can help with that.

This higher-level focus is about meeting those financial goals and ensuring compliance with billing guidelines while maintaining good, collaborative relationships with outside counsel. Legal professionals are looking to manage matters more strategically, using metrics to decide which firms to assign, what the right resources are, when the right time is, what the likely outcomes are, what the likely exposure is and so on.

These challenges are about law departments finding ways to be better partners in meeting the company’s business goals. It’s also important to them that they are able to demonstrate the additional value they are bringing to the company through all of these efforts.