Mick Sheehey on data driven decision making

Mick Sheehy joined PwC as a partner in October 2018 to build and run PwC’s Australian NewLaw practice, focussed on providing strategic consulting, technology, and outsourcing solutions to legal departments. 

Mick is a recognized international leader in the field of legal innovation and transformation, having won numerous international legal innovation awards and with his work the subject of a case study for Harvard Law School.  

Mick founded and chaired the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium Australia, an industry body established to share best practice legal operations and innovation knowledge.  Mick is a director of Fitzroy Legal Service, a member of the advisory board to Swinburne University Law School, has an extensive commercial and M&A background, and before PwC spent 14 years at Telstra where he was General Counsel.

I felt that all the other departments were so adept at using numbers and metrics, in particular, to go and fight for internal funding. Whereas the legal department is hopeless at it. In fact, we weren’t even part of the conversation. So I really felt that there was a real problem here that we needed to solve. 

In the episode today we’ll talk through:

  • The research project completed by PwC NewLaw team to identify key decisions that legal departments make every day
  • Three waves of legal operations
    1. Vendor management: manage panels and understand where the money is being spent
    2. Productivity: how we manage our workflows, and getting the high volume but simpler processes done better
    3. Insights: this is where we are moving to, and provides a way to get us to look at data and focus on measurement

Most of the things that we’ve done have been done by either other legal departments, a lot of professions, and we should be trying to learn from them, bringing those insights to help make our transformation journey as fast.

  • Deciding what to measure and then what data to capture
  • Why often legal departments aren’t even part of the conversation around spend and business measurements. How measurement drives internal funding and support, and how to set baselines (even if you’re the first/only one doing something) 
  •  A deep dive into three functional examples – what to measure, how and why:
    • Business strategy
    • Technology & innovation
    • Knowledge management
  • The importance of data-driven decision making

The thing is when you invest in transformation and change, what is critical is to be able to measure the change.
There’s no point in changing something if you don’t understand your baseline. Whereas I think that perhaps again, a lot of our real initiatives were done without baselines. If you’re going to ask for more funding to support a legal operations function or to invest in new technology, you need to very clearly understand your baseline and then be able to measure, in quantifiable terms, what that change is. 

Whether it be productivity benefits, whether it be turnaround times, whether it be providing new material insight to your business, these things are capable of being measured. If they aren’t measured, you’ll never attract that internal investment to support these initiatives. So that is the reason why this has to happen. Without it, the internal funding and support will just dry up. 


You can find out more about the report and download the PDF here.

You can find Mick on PwC’s website or on LinkedIn

About the Author
Ab is the Host of the Fringe Legal podcast. He is a technologist, with an interest in LegalTech. Outside of the podcast, Ab is the VP, International Business at Litera. He is a Barrister (non-practicing), and was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 2015. Abhijat holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science and Neuroscience from the University of Keele, UK.

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