Experience/Matter Metadata: Powering Pricing, Knowledge Management and Marketing with Umbria

Experience/Matter Metadata: Powering Pricing, Knowledge Management and Marketing with Umbria

Capture your firm’s big data so you can leverage it

Marketers in law firms have been gathering critical experiential information about matters for years. For marketers, this metadata was used to enable them to find similar matters in order to craft pitches. Knowledge management professionals gathered comparable information to make documents discoverable. Now, pricing and legal process management teams are looking for matter experience and metadata to help them build accurate budgets that deliver the transparency and predictability that clients demand.

Metadata is increasingly needed not only to analyze past cases, but to win future deals for your firm. So, where do you begin?

The challenge is to get lawyers to collect the right data. Why do most firms lack good data about their matters? Often the reason is that firms ask their lawyers for the experience information at the inception of a matter, before they really know what the matter is about. Or, the lawyer’s focus is getting the case opened and clearing any conflicts.

With the increasing need for firms to price and budget their matters, and as clients force firms to move to a “need to know” security model, gathering effective experience or metadata has become a mission-critical business problem. Without a method for effectively compiling and retrieving this information, firms may be at a disadvantage when competing for new work and leveraging past work.

Prosperoware’s Umbria software doesn’t simply track metadata about matters, but uses the information to drive legal process management. For example, the selection of a matter type in Umbria can prompt a list of available phases, a set of standard tasks that can be used, or even automate the building of a complete budget.

How to Think About Structured Metadata Design

A core concept in Umbria is the use of templates – a critical element that negates the challenge of a “blank slate.” Lawyers typically do not want to start a process from scratch; they prefer to start with some information and then modify it to fit the matter at hand.

Umbria’s templates provide information about the phases of a matter. Within those phases, you can define staffing/leverage, task and assignments/workflow. The tasks can be used for budgeting and legal process management. The templates can also define the available folder structure that can be created for holding documents.

Umbria uses experience metadata to filter and display the only relevant templates. The template filters use four core experience fields: matter type, area of law, matter sub-type and the country where the work is taking place.

Matter Type

Matter Type should be used to describe the work at its highest level. Generally, there are four types of work: litigation, transactions, advisory and regulatory.

      • Advisory is when the service is simply providing advice or preparing a set of documents for a client for their consumption such as policies or position statements.
      • Transactions are when there are two or more sides and the outputs are typically contracts or agreements.
      • Litigation is whenever there is some adversarial proceeding, whether in court, arbitration or in front of hearing officer at the administrative government/quasi government (e.g. FINRA).
      • Regulatory is the act of preparing filings for governmental agencies, e.g. securities or tax.

 

Multiple practice areas may actually perform all four types of work. For example, an employment lawyer provides:

      • Advice on wage and hour law or prepares an employment handbook.
      • Makes a regulatory filing for workers compensation.
      • Works on a transaction for a non-compete agreement.
      • Litigates an EEO filing.

 

You want to define these large groupings because the tasks that are performed across the matter type are very similar. For example, almost all litigation matters require a task to review documents.

Area of Law

Area of law describes the subject matter of the work. Examples of area of law include employment, securities, tax and admiralty. The area of law is intended to act as a filter to allow the identification of the matter subtype/service delivery. Area of law is important when implicitly applied  to lawyers and others as it shows their specific area of legal knowledge.

Area of law is a preferred categorization over practice because many firms reorganize their practice areas or business units on a regular basis.

Matter Sub-Type/Service Delivery

The matter sub-type or service delivery is the most important area of categorization. This label is intended to describe what exact services are being delivered. In many ways, this is the legal service that the client is purchasing from the firm. Examples can include: “plaintiff employment discrimination defense,” “private placements,” “merger and acquisition,” “employment handbook” and “wage & hour advisory.”

The goal of defining the matter sub-type is that you describe services that the lawyers provide on a regular basis. This means that you will be able to easily compare a similar service over time. A key test for items on the list of sub-types is whether they describe what the client is asking the firm to do. Better to keep these in terms of how clients interpret the service instead of how the firm internally views it. Ideally, this terminology would map to your website and collateral.

When building these descriptions, try not to get overly narrow. It is better to define “plaintiff employment discrimination defense” than a category for age, sex, and race discrimination.

Additional Metadata Fields

Tags

The tags describe the variety of elements of the service. This could range from the specific legal issues involved, descriptors for what makes the client unique, or the circumstances. When creating tags, consider what elements of a matter are important from a pricing, knowledge and marketing perspective.

Example of tags for “plaintiff employment discrimination defense” can include “sex,” “age,” “race” and “timely filing.”

Important Free-Text Descriptions

Multiple free-text fields also serve the purpose of providing a place to capture information about the matter that may not fit into the validated fields. These descriptions include:

      • Overall matter description can serve as a place to enter the scope
      • Complexity can provide a place to store lessons learned.
      • Marketing description.

 

Relationship of People and Companies to the Matter

Role 

A role represents a logical set of permissions. Roles are given to the users to enable various access levels to In Umbria, all people and companies, whether clients, vendors, staff or internal staff, are maintained centrally. This enables the firm to understand how all of these entities have interacted with the work of a matter. It can also provide beneficial information as to “who knows who” between firm employees and client contacts.

APPENDIX

List of Umbria Matter Metadata

Umbria tracks two classes of information that are common to all matters, and extended fields based on the matter type that is selected. The following information is tracked on the core of a matter:

Name

Description

Contacts

Industry

Location

Practice Area

Matter Type

Area of Law

Matter Sub-Type/ Service Delivery

Tags

Matter Complexity

Marketing Description

Parties

Purpose

This field is intended to capture information about the description of a matter.

These are people that are associated with the matter externally. This enables you track party contacts, opposing/co-counsel contacts and others. This would include vendors and judges.

This is a list of industries that are involved in the matter

Geographic locations including city and country

These is the departmental or organization reporting structure.

Matter Type is intended to describe the matter at the highest level. Generally in the legal industry there are four types of matters (regulatory/policy, transaction, litigation, and advisory). The matter type links to extended forms.

This field is intended to describe the subject matter that is involved in the matter. The area of law can be used to limit the available list of matter-subtypes.

The sub-type is intended to describe the actual delivery of service. The matter sub-type look-up may be limited by the selection of the area of law.

The tags field is a multi-valued field. The list of available tags can be limited by either matter type, sub-type, and/or area of law

This field provides a place to create notes for post-action review and lessons learned. There is also a validated field where the complexity level of the matter can be scored.

The marketing description field provides a place to store multiple descriptions that can be used in pitches or on the firm website. With marketing descriptions, their usage can be indicated.

The party information tracks the adverse and co-parties in the matter and their law firms.

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