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Using data for good with Maria Pozza

"Our clients are looking for value," says Dr Maria Pozza, "and it's important for the legal profession to constantly ask, "how am I providing value to my clients?" Data can be used as a way to continually assess the value-add that we can offer."

We often discuss data's intrinsic and untapped value, although the legal world is cottoning on at a galloping rate to data's potential uses. Dr. Maria Pozza, Director of Gravity Lawyers, believes to harness the power of data for better legal outcomes; we should look at is a value add from a client's point of view.

She sagely points out that "data can help to inform us on branding, customer/client loyalty, and ways to ensure that we are communicating with our clients effectively."

Let's get a few things straight to clarify how and why data is so valuable. Pozza considers data in the legal sense to be the raw data we collect from clients, such as someone's name, address, age, and location. Data provides values that can be translated into information, providing us with key insights.

Pozza explains that basic data such as when a client last contacted their lawyer, about what type of legal request, and what industry they are working in can provide valuable insights. "That data tells me I need to keep an eye on the industry that my client is working in because perhaps there's been regulatory and legislative updates that my client should know about," Pozza elaborates.

Such information is important as it can strengthen one's relationship with their client. Fostering a counsel-client relationship built on trust is essential as it creates a sense of playing for the same team. "Technology and AI have changed the way we keep clients informed," notes Pozza. "As lawyers, we have to change how we work to become more proactive. Adopting the opportunities that new tech presents to us means that we can keep our clients up-to-date with changes and informed."

Within a business, being proactive means using data to create better systems. Pozza recommends harnessing power BI (a tool most in-house lawyers likely have access to through their Microsoft subscription) to harness data into meaningful information. "Power BI can allow us to see how our client's needs are evolving due to industry changes. That's incredibly powerful because we can start thinking about solutions ahead of time," says Pozza.

A lot of skepticism and fear shroud the conversation of the future and technology. Movies and books love to explore the themes of AI gone rogue, and as humans, there is still a strong discourse around AI taking our jobs. Pozza makes a very sage point about AI and data's ethical use and safety. She notes that, as humans, how we analyze and sort data will be different on an individual level versus AI due to inherent biases.

"There may be human errors in data collection, and AI systems can do much to eliminate those errors so that the quality of the data is more accurate. However, there is an ethical element to consider here," she says. "If using an AI, it's equally important to remember that AI can indiscriminately collect as much data as possible unless programmed otherwise," she advises.

As we move into an increasingly data-driven world, Pozza implores us to remember the importance of ethical data practices. She explains that we need to be really careful about the data collection process, questioning our intentions for data analysis. "We've got to have a good methodology. And we need to make sure that when capturing data, we've done everything we possibly can to make sure that the framework in which the data is captured is accurate," she remarks.

"People may have contested personal data collection, but we've got to be ethical about how we use it," stresses Pozza. "We must only use data for the purposes we collected it for." The same rules apply to business. As in-house teams gain more information about their wider business, they still must treat that information with care, after-all it is personal information.

Data can and will continue to transform how lawyers provide services to their clients. Used with consent, it can transform how we work, providing invaluable insights that strengthen client relationships. Used with malice, things may start to look a little Sci-Fi.

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