Three Ways Benchmarking Data Can Help Information Professionals Identify Opportunities and Position their Needs to Leadership

Theresa Greco | June 06, 2023

Data-driven decision making is a best practice that is increasingly becoming the norm in law firm management, and the library is no exception. Information professionals can leverage reputable benchmarking data to strategically support department decision making and position department needs to firm leadership.

Senior Managers Joanne Kiley and Peggy Chevel recently hosted an online seminar on this topic, presenting case studies on how library leaders leveraged HBR Consulting’s Benchmarking + Legal Information Services Survey (BLISS) to strategically support their department decision making.

The following are several takeaways from that webinar.  

How Data Can Help

  1. Benchmarking. Good benchmarking data can provide you with powerful data to assist with decision making and planning for everything from staffing, budgets, collections, vendors, and department goals, along with other areas imperative to aligning the department with the overarching firms’ goals and peers. In the first use case, the presenters showed how library leaders use BLISS data to assist them when asking firm leadership for a budget or staff increase. Using cost per attorney data, they could show that their firm spends less per attorney on resources than their peer firms, strengthening their argument to increase the electronic resources budget.

  2. Define and close gaps. The right data can help you see patterns or anomalies within your team that you might otherwise have missed. The second use case in the presentation centered on making sure your department roles are the right fit now and for the future. Firms are using BLISS data to understand how other firms handle issues such as overworked staff, skills assessments/training, and role reorganization. Data points like the research staff to attorney ratio can be powerful tools to explain overloaded staff workloads and staff burnout.

  3. Provide clarity. The third use case showed how firms are using peer data to help plan a clear path to the future state of their library departments. Firms are always looking for ways to innovate but, being risk averse, they would like to see data on how these innovations have helped other firms before wading into the pool. Cutting-edge ideas gain credibility and become more manageable for leadership to process with the right data behind them. The BLISS dashboard can be filtered by year and Am Law segment to provide the most current and most relevant data when presenting to leadership.

Strong, credible benchmarking data is a vital tool for moving your department forward. It helps strategically position department needs to firm leadership and gain their buy-in. Currently in its seventh year, HBR Consulting’s Benchmarking + Legal Information Services Survey (BLISS) has become the industry standard for benchmarking law firm libraries. It includes data on a range of topics, including staffing, budgets, collections, vendors, and department goals, as well as timely topics for each given year. Participants receive access to the BLISS dashboard, which allows them to filter data by year and Am Law segment, visualizing the data in ways that are most useful for their firms. To participate in the 2023 survey, click here.