How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?
Data and analytics are important for law firms, not only to understand client needs and expectations but also to appreciate the changing attitudes of staff to remote working and working from home. At Bristows, we have worked hard to ensure that our employees are fully supported in the home working environment during the Covid-19 period and analysing feedback from staff to our surveys has been invaluable. So, much of our legal services and our marketing efforts have been influenced by data analytics this year.
2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?
We already had a working from home policy and our lawyers were already able to work remotely, so the initial impact was not too bad. However, we had to provide additional equipment to enable all our staff to continue working. We did not furlough staff as we were very busy during 2020, but of course there has been an impact on our use of the office space, our conferences, our travel, and our meetings. The use of virtual meetings, webinars and the like has enabled us to continue to support our staff and service our clients. We have had to be creative as to how to collaborate on transactions and litigation, and technology has been a boon.
Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?
Even when we are able to return to the office environment and to face to face interactions, it is certain that we will be more virtual in the management of our law firm and its relationship with clients and professional contacts. To that end, reliance on data and analytics will be more important.
Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?
Data for good or the ethical use of data is something I have promoted for a number of years through my involvement with the Society for Corporate Compliance & Ethics of which I become President in 2021 and also through my participation in the work of the United Nations Global Pulse as a founder member of their experts advisory group on governance of data and of AI.
What has been your path to power?
I qualified as a solicitor in 1979 and shortly thereafter got involved in acting for computer games companies, including developers of Invaders Revenge, Tomb Raider, Need for Speed, Championship Manager and later, Second Life. I also advised on the regulatory aspects of encryption and ecommerce in the 1980s and got into data protection in 1984 when the Data Protection Act was published. From the late 1990s, I specialised in data protection and information security. I have provided advice and training as a lawyer and through the DMA, BCS, ICC and Law Society.
What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?
I am proud to have founded “The i in Online” in 2008 to teach children safe use of the online world and then honoured to have been invited to work with South West Grid for Learning (which is part of the Safer Internet Centre) for the past decade as a trustee and as company secretary. It is a charity ensuring children benefit from technology, free from harm.
Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?
I am due to retire from Bristows law firm at the beginning of 2022 and my aim this year is to manage the transfer of my experience and my clients into the safe hands of my colleagues.
How closely aligned to the business are data and analytics both within your own organisation and at an industry level? What helps to bring the two closer together?
Law firms have traditionally been slow to adapt to technology and digitisation, but the coronavirus pandemic has expedited the move to remote working, digitisation of legal services and better use of data and analytics. As a law firm with a long-standing focus on the technology and life science sectors, Bristows has been ahead of the curve in reliance on data and analytics. Clients expect their law firm to be able to adopt and adapt in respect of digitisation and the Law Society is promoting this need to its members.
What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?
In order to develop and maintain a data culture in any organisation requires a top down approach. Management and executive buy-in is essential and should be central to brand, compliance, ethics, and trust. The business needs to implement realistic and practical policies which must be embedded across and throughout the business. Good data governance should be promoted as a pillar.