Legal Managers' Progression with Regression

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A Lawyer’s Gentle Introduction to Data Insights from Linear Regression


A well-known statistical tool called regression enables organizations to craft better strategies based on their data.   With regression law firms and law departments can learn how closely some important fact, such as likely write-offs, billable hours, or effective billing rates, is associated with other numbers related to that fact, such as client revenue, years with the firm, or total timekeepers, respectively.  Moreover, regression also makes predictions regarding the fact when new data arrives.

The goal of this article is to introduce leaders of lawyers to regression.  Many, many kinds of regression have been developed, but this article will focus on linear regression. In that basic method, the regression equation we discuss later has constant and justifiable numbers multiplied by other numbers, rather than powers of numbers or other transformations.  Furthermore, regression also works with non-numeric information, such as gender, publicly-traded or privately-held status, or cities where offices are located, but that is beyond our scope.

How might regression help you?  What are some decisions where managers might apply regression?  A general counsel might investigate whether and how the size of law firms retained is associated with average effective billing rate. Or she might predict whether and how more matters assigned to a firm is associated with lower effective billing rates. Law firm partners might look at several pieces of information about associates and use regression to estimate the likelihood of a particular associate making partner. Or the head of marketing might learn to what degree the number of participants in a survey influences how many times the report is downloaded. Countless examples of regression can illuminate law firm and law department operations and strengthen management decisions.

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