New Research from BigHand, BRYTER, and SurePoint Technologies Highlights the Value of Financial Intelligence for Law Firms

Results revealed a striking shift in the role of law firm finance leaders and the use of data to drive change in legal organizations

Ari Kaplan Advisors released a new report - Implementing Financial Intelligence to Give Law Firms a Competitive Advantage in 2022 and Beyond – about the pandemic’s impact on the business of law, shifts in the application of data to decision-making in law firms, the perception of profitability, and the pace of innovation. A consortium of companies that includes BigHand, BRYTER, and SurePoint Technologies supported the research, which is based on interviews conducted by Ari Kaplan, principal of Ari Kaplan Advisors, with 20 chief financial officers, seven finance directors (three of which serve as the CFO since they are the department leader), and three accounting managers at law firms of various sizes, though with a median size of 103 lawyers, throughout the United States.

The results reveal that finance leaders have expanded responsibilities, are helping firms quickly adapt to new challenges, and wield higher levels of influence to positively impact decisions at their organizations. “If you're able to foster a culture of business and financial intelligence within your firm, you can communicate those details to your clients and provide greater value to them,” said Rob Stote, the managing director of profitability products at BigHand.

In addition, when asked to gauge their influence on the decision-making of other departments at their firms, almost half of the respondents reported that they have significant sway, with 47% rating their level of influence at a four or five out of five. “The report shows that not only do law firm financial leaders have significant visibility into an array of firm data and dynamically leverage technology, but they are also routinely driving innovation,” added Michael Grupp, the CEO of BRYTER.

The key findings include:

  • 17% of the respondents work for firms that do not measure profitability.
  • 27% are exploring other service delivery models to increase profitability.
  • 43% indicated that their jobs have changed beyond the traditional remit of a law firm financial leader
  • 60% are involved in the procurement and buying decisions for technology.
  • 67% reported that the skills required for financial leaders have changed.
  • 90% have access to the data they need to make informed business decisions.
  • 90% indicated that data can help finance teams become these trusted advisors.
  • 93% reported that reliable, timely data can help law firms gain a competitive edge.

“Many finance professionals spoke of the need to build consensus and collaborate with individuals throughout their firms to simplify complex concepts and leverage advanced business intelligence to improve outcomes and opportunities,” said legal industry analyst, Ari Kaplan.

Finance practitioners are also increasingly being asked to assess tools, as well as gather, interpret, and distribute data on which practice groups, managing partners, and executive teams can rely to drive change. “To remain successful, law firms need to embrace technology and data to both meet client demands and to enhance their ability to predict outcomes more effectively,” said Tom Obermaier, the CEO of SurePoint.

Access the full Implementing Financial Intelligence to Give Law Firms a Competitive Advantage in 2022 and Beyond report here.