Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives continue to be a hot topic in legal departments — and the programs are getting both broader and more comprehensive while also becoming more difficult to collect information amid global privacy laws that govern how certain data can be stored and used. Faced with these challenges, in-house legal departments need a more comprehensive, flexible, and secure approach to automating DEI data collection and analysis.
Why is collecting diversity, equity, and inclusion data so hard?
The original approach to collecting DEI data from legal service providers involved a lot of manual work. On a periodic basis, usually annually, the legal department sent surveys to their LSPs to get a picture of the firm's DEI data across the key metrics with counts and/or percentages of staff in each category. Firms would receive the surveys, complete the questionnaires, and return them to the legal department where they were then manually compiled — probably within a series of spreadsheets.
These early programs typically focused exclusively on gender and race. But more recently, the definition of diversity has evolved starting with a more inclusive view of gender and race and the desire to track additional classes such as disabilities, military service, sexual orientation, and more. The additional data tracking requirements are further complicated by global privacy laws that vary widely across jurisdictions and in some cases may make data collection impossible or restrict access so severely that detailed analysis can not be performed.
How does the Litify Enterprise Legal Management (ELM) solution help?
In order for any technology to be successful in tracking your diversity, equity, and inclusion program, it must provide: (1) the underlying data elements that track and report on the progress of an organization toward its diversity goals, and (2) a suite of workflow tools that assist personnel to meet these goals. As you’ll see below, Litify takes an innovative approach to collecting and analyzing vendor DEI data.
First, Litify enables multiple survey types to be created and then automatically sends out the surveys, follows up with participants, and consolidates the results. Those results can then be visualized using the platform’s robust dashboard and reporting tools.
Tracking & Verification
Tracking DEI starts with information about people. Traditionally, part of an eBilling process includes the submission of a list of proposed timekeepers from outside counsel to a corporate legal department for review. Specifically, the individuals outside counsel assign to legal matters, AKA timekeepers. Each outside counsel bill includes fee entries associated with those timekeepers. The information typically shared in this context is the timekeeper's name, the person’s role on a matter (e.g., associate, paralegal, partner), and the proposed rate, but can be customized to include additional DEI data. Litify ELM leverages this data to show how each law firm utilizes each timekeeper.
Reporting and dashboard tools in Litify ELM enable legal departments to create visual reports that immediately convey an organizations’ progress toward each of its DEI goals. Reporting can be applied to law firms, to areas of law, or to departments within the legal organization. Each of these areas can further be categorized by cost centers or geographic regions. This ensures that a legal department can collect and report on the specific data they need for their DEI goals and is not limited to a predefined, generic set of metrics.
Workflows in Litify ELM are designed to inform personnel on the performance of the legal department in the context of its DEI goals and to guide them on actions they can take to achieve them. Like reporting, workflows can be applied to law firms, to areas of law or to departments within the legal organization. Each of these areas can further be categorized by cost centers or geographic regions. These workflows can be configured to automatically notify team members when designated thresholds are identified by the system, such as:
- When the actuals of a law firm Actuals fall below a designated percentage of their Forecast
- As designated DEI categories are either over or underutilized (Actuals).
- When the DEI related to the active Timekeepers within a law firm or the utilization of Timekeepers fall under designated thresholds.
DE&I is a core port of the Litify product and is seamlessly integrated with the Litify ELM solution. Learn more about Litify ELM here or request a demo today.