On 17th May, Aku Sorainen, the founder of Crespect took the stage at the “Future Law Conference” in Tallinn. During his keynote speech, he posed a critical question to the audience of industry leaders and future lawyers: what is the most valuable asset of a law firm is? If you think it is lawyers or clients, you are not entirely wrong, However, if you missed this flagship event in the Baltics, mark your calendars for next year. For now,  continue reading as we share insights from our founder’s keynote.

From client-centric to data-centric culture

We know a successful law firm must have a client-centric culture. However, fostering a data-centric culture is equally important. This ensures that everyone contributes meaningfully to maintaining clean, structured data beyond just logging hours.

The primary precondition for developing a data-centric culture is adopting a “public-first” approach, where all data within the firm is accessible unless marked confidential (e.g., sensitive personal data). Such openness encourages collaboration, information sharing, and leverages the firm’s collective expertise.

In contrast, many firms operate on a “confidential-first” basis, where cases and documents are confidential by default and accessible only to the team working on them. Special actions are required to make these cases visible to others in the firm. This approach is often justified as prioritizing data privacy, but it actually fosters a culture of “minding one’s own business.”

The first step toward creating a data-centric culture in a law firm is to agree that the firm’s data belongs to everyone and to adopt a “public-first” approach. But then what?

Easier said than done: the beauty of structured data

Few law firms have a culture of storing large amounts of data, and even fewer do so in a structured manner. This is because it’s time-consuming, often unrewarded, and can create the uncomfortable feeling of giving away “business secrets.”

There’s no quick fix, but Aku Sorainen encourages firms to persistently work on these four steps until a data-centric culture gradually develops:

1. Train people on proper data handling.

2. Automate as many documents as possible by gathering master templates and practice notes in one place, ensuring they are regularly updated and accessible.

3. Use GenAI to help structure data.

4. Implement a control system and incentives to manage data properly, ensuring “trash in – trash out” is avoided.

So, what is the most valuable asset of a law firm?

Any lawyer might say, “it depends…”, yet Aku boiled it down to three main aspects to which structured data contributes significantly:

  1. Culture: when it is equally balanced between client-centric and data-centric culture, opportunities to leverage the economies of scale get unlocked.
  2. People: structured data enables everyone to learn faster, creating a learning organisation rather than just a group of smart individuals. It also significantly reduces boring and repetitive tasks.
  3. Clients: structured data allows higher quality advice to be delivered faster and in a more unified manner, providing a better price-quality ratio and resulting in happier clients – the constant goal of any law firm.

Final Thoughts

The true value of a law firm lies not just in its lawyers or clients, but in its ability to foster a balanced culture that equally prioritizes client satisfaction and data integrity. By embracing a data-centric approach and diligently working to structure and manage data effectively, law firms can unlock new levels of efficiency, collaboration, and client satisfaction.

The journey toward this transformation may be challenging, but the rewards make it undeniably worthwhile. Luckily there are tools in place that can help unifying data capture and entry like DMS for storing, classifying and indexing legal documents and legal practice management systems like Crespect provides a holistic platform for entering not only clients & cases but also CRM & BD efforts, market intelligence, leads, opportunities, transaction experience and more.

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