Big Data – How Fenwick Uses Analytics

Fenwick’s director of pricing and product development Kevin Vaarsi talked to Of Counsel about law firms’ increasing use of analytics in their legal practices, firm management, budgeting and pricing and other operational areas.

Vaarsi described the role analytics play across the legal-practice spectrum at Fenwick. “We work with every practice area but where it helps the most is in large complex projects that last a number of years,” Vaarsi said. “That’s where clients are the most interested in predicting the cost.”

He added that Fenwick’s corporate lawyers rely on analytics for major transactional work like M&A and IPOs—deals that are big expenditures and carry the greatest risks for clients. “But we also do it on smaller day-to-day work.”

Fenwick, Vaarsi noted, realized the advantages of analytics relatively early for the legal profession, hiring a budget manager in 2009. Clients show appreciation for the advanced predictability the data provides by giving the firm repeat business.

“When we meet with clients, we can show them that we’ve done 25 of this type of deal; here’s how the fees break down by task; here’s the average, and here’s the median. Analytics allows the firm to have a cost-benefit and risk-reward conversation with the client. Clients have told us that they feel confident because we’re supplying them with a data-backed [price] estimate, not something we’re coming up with out of the sky,” Vaarsi said.

Vaarsi’s team has grown steadily, a sign of the importance Fenwick places on Big Data and also an indicator of an emerging trend. Increasingly, law firms are hiring and training people to specialize in this area and creating pricing and product development departments, he told Of Counsel.

The full article is available on Of Counsel (subscription required).​


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