Kerry Benn is excited about how data can help attorneys make strategic decisions about their practice.
Whether they’re surveying 2,500 attorneys about returning to the office or hearing from over 1,200 potential summer associates, Kerry’s team uses real-world data to provide lawyers with actionable insights.
This trove of information calls for outstanding graphics, and Law360 Pulse is rising to the occasion, developing interactive tools for fascinating issues like partner compensation.
With so much happening at Law360 Pulse, Kerry sat down with Above the Law to discuss her team’s biggest projects, the trends they’re discovering in the legal world, and how Law360 is a hotbed for Jeopardy contestants.
This interview was conducted at the end of May and has been edited for clarity and length.
ATL: What types of new content does Law360 Pulse offer?
We’ve been envisioning Law360 Pulse as a complement to Law360, offering a deep dive into the business of law. It provides news and intelligence that lawyers can act on as part of their business and practice.
I run our Law360 Pulse Insights team, which uses data and analytics in our reporting, allowing us to provide in-depth reports about the business of law and the legal industry.
ATL: Tell us about some of the fun projects that you’re working on for Pulse Insights.
We’re actually just about to release our summer associates survey. We really wanted to get a sense from prospective summer associates of their concerns and what firms were at the top of their list. We ended up surveying more than 1,200 law school students.
The firm most people cited as their top choice was Latham & Watkins. Number two was Kirkland & Ellis and Skadden came in at number three. The firms that made the best impression on the students put a lot of effort into their associate programs.
ATL: It’s clearly a unique time to be surveying summer associates — this is a very different summer coming out of the pandemic. Was there any data to suggest that priorities had shifted for summer associates, in terms of what made a law firm great versus working somewhere else?
I don’t think we dug into that angle of it, but we definitely did see people saying that COVID had some effects.
For example, 53% of respondents cited that they were nervous they wouldn’t have an ability to connect with colleagues or receive sufficient mentoring, just because everyone will be remote.
ATL: You’re also looking at how attorneys are feeling about coming back to the office. I know that there was a new survey with over 2,500 attorneys that was completed in conjunction with the legal recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa (MLA). Tell us about that study.
We asked 2,500 attorneys about how they felt about returning to the office, and people were spread about it, as you would expect. We definitely found that there was a generational difference.
People who identified as part of the baby boom generation were much more likely to want to return to the office full-time than their millennial counterparts. And nearly half of attorneys at every level said their preference would be to go back to the office a few days a week.
Additionally, 27% of partners said they would come back every day, but only about seven percent of associates were interested in coming back every day. So, it was definitely a big split along generational or age lines.
ATL: We understand that, in addition to these surveys and projects, there’s some significant work going on around data visualization. Tell us a little more about what attorneys are looking for when it comes to taking in all this data.
We’re really trying to beef up our visualizations and make them interactive. We did a great visualization with one of our earlier surveys this year about partner compensation, where you could select from a bunch of different menus.
So, you could say, ‘Okay, I’m a woman in my thirties and I work for a firm that’s in the top 200. How much do my peers report that they make as their salary? Does my compensation match that?’
We’ve also found attorneys are really looking for any kind of data that can help them make decisions about their business. So, things like hot practice areas, cold practice areas. Diversity and inclusion data is also a big one.
ATL: I’m really excited to see some of those new charts and some of the new interactive data visualizations. Are those currently available?
You can check out some of them on Law360.com/pulse/insights. We also put together white paper reports for each of the projects we do, and those are available there, as well.
ATL: It’s so exciting to see all this innovation happening at Law360 — what else is coming down the pike?
We’re actually going to circle back with summer associates later this year and see how those programs went. And you can look for reports throughout the summer on our lawyer satisfaction survey, which looks at how satisfied folks are with their jobs.
We’re also doing a pro bono survey that’s looking at firms’ pro bono efforts. And we’ll be publishing enhanced versions of our usual Glass Ceiling and Diversity Snapshot reports.
We’ve been doing both of those for nearly a decade at this point — tracking data on diversity, attrition, hiring of women, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ folks.
ATL: Is there a way for me to get this in my inbox every day?
We have dedicated newsletters that are delivered to your inbox daily. They’re actually an afternoon newsletter, which is fun. Law360 Pulse has four teams with distinct coverage areas, including our Modern Lawyer section, our Courts section, and a bunch of different state sites, as well. So, folks can sign up for all those newsletters or choose the ones they want.
ATL: So many reasons to check out Law360 and the new Pulse site. Before I let you go, though, tell us about why Law360 might be a magnet for Jeopardy contestants — and you had some success on the show as well, from what I understand.
Yes, that’s right. I am a Jeopardy champion, which I’m extremely proud to be able to say. I competed on two games back in May 2017. Law360, for whatever reason, is just a haven for Jeopardy contestants. We have several others in our newsroom, including one guy who was a Teen Tournament champion back in the nineties and also competed on Battle of the Decade. So, we have a really fun time.
ATL: Where can our audience go to learn more about Law360 Pulse?
You can go to Law360.com/pulse, where you can explore the different sections of coverage and the deep dives into the business of law. On the top of the page, there’s a button for Insights, which you can click for my team’s data project work. Hopefully, people will enjoy reading it as much as we love putting it together.