Leveraging APIs for Market Intelligence and Driving Revenue
By Josh Blandi
December 07, 2023 | 5-minute read
As the competition for clients continues to escalate and differentiation becomes more difficult, legal marketing and business development teams are increasingly looking to external legal data sources for market intelligence and new opportunities to drive revenue growth. Application programming interfaces (APIs) offer one route to do exactly that.
With the rising number of API providers in the legal data ecosystem and a corresponding increase in the variety of data sets being offered, you may wonder how to:
- Know which provider to choose.
- Implement these solutions and derive the market intelligence you need.
- Prove the underlying value this technology provides to decision makers in your firm.
Finding the answers to these questions will allow professionals working in the legal marketing and business development space to stay ahead of the curve, protect firm profitability and expand to new opportunities.
Business Use Case Identification
Before your team starts looking for API solutions from legal technology vendors, you must first identify what you are trying to solve from acquiring external data sources.
Determining your core business use cases for legal data at the outset will not only save you from future headaches, but will also make proving return on investment (ROI) that much easier when defending decisions to firm leadership down the road.
Start by identifying the narrow use cases your marketing and business development team wants to pursue, and consider limiting your scope to the most salient use case that rises to the top. This will help provide laser-focused attention on securing your first win with outside data.
If you need help narrowing down specific ways to leverage outside legal data, here are three of the most common problems we have seen and how data can help:
- Client litigation tracking and retention: Automate tracking new litigation connected to clients and their industry to position your attorneys as trusted advisors and uncover potential client churn when work starts flowing to competitors.
- Winning client and prospect requests for proposals (RFPs): Streamline the collection of experience data and stand out from the competition with more timely, comprehensive and accurate RFP responses.
- Identifying cross-selling opportunities: Pinpoint whitespace opportunities where your firm can expand client relationships by gathering market intelligence on key clients accounting for the lion’s share of firm revenue.
Once you’ve locked in on your core high-value problems, you can move on to choosing from available API solutions on the market.
After identifying the most salient business challenges your marketing and business development team can solve with data, the next step is to select the API solution that fits the specific, high-value problem your firm has set out to tackle.
At this stage in your selection process, there are three initial considerations to review before selecting an API solution for your team:
- Data coverage: Even if a legal data provider says they have the coverage you need, what do things look like under the hood? Are there significant gaps in certain data points or fields that are mission critical to the use case(s) you have identified?
- Data normalization: The “bad data in, bad data out” adage gets exponentially more important in the context of legal data APIs. Does the provider normalize and clean their data for you, or is your team expected to do most of the heavy lifting to make the data usable?
- Data interoperability: With the myriad data sources that firms are ingesting, the interoperability of a new provider’s data is paramount. How structured is their data? Are they using SALI standards? How open is their licensing model and will it allow you to run large language models (LLMs) on the data you purchase?
The graveyard of great ideas and initiatives for leveraging data in law firms is littered with projects that failed in implementation and lost the pivotal momentum needed to reach the finish line.
With your core use case(s) identified and the firm-solution fit confirmed, don’t sleep on the need for a smooth implementation when selecting the best API solution for your business development and marketing team.
Here are some of the crucial questions you should consider and ask any potential legal data API provider before finalizing your selection process:
- What existing integrations does the API provider have? Are they already integrated with the key systems and tools your team is using?
- How easy is it to develop custom integrations you might need?
- Does the provider have integration partners and managed services providers to assist your team if you lack the technical expertise or bandwidth to move implementation forward?
- What kind of support can you expect from the provider? Can they provide the white glove service you need without significant added and/or hidden fees?
The last point here bears repeating. When it comes to API integrations and implementing a new legal data solution, it’s impossible to overstate how important it is to find a provider who wants to be your partner and see you succeed. Look intently for providers seeking partnerships, not just another signature on the dotted line.
At the end of the day, legal marketers and business developers have to prove the ROI on any activity requiring precious firm resources. Using external data sources is no different. So, get your quick wins, measure your successes and look for opportunities to expand.
Don’t go through the process of identifying your core use cases and high-value problems to solve, selecting the right API solutions, implementing those API solutions and lose sight of what really matters — driving revenue and proving ROI.
By keeping this in mind from start to finish, you will not only position yourself to be able to push back against inevitable detractors, but also to win them over when they come up for air and give you more breathing room to build upon your successes.
Want a more detailed resource for choosing the right API solution for your firm? Here is a detailed API checklist to help your team navigate through choosing the right legal data provider for your firm, regardless of the type of data you need to move your business development and marketing efforts forward.