Big Data, Big Benefits for Lawyers

Mar 20, 2020

Big DataBig business is leveraging ‘big data’ like never before. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other related technologies are playing a significant role in helping companies everywhere increase efficiency and boost profits.

According to a recent McKinsey Report, high-performing organizations, across all industries, claim that at least 20% of their large increases in earnings in the past three years have come from data and analytics initiatives. Other key revelations of data-driven organizations:

  • 23 times more likely to win new customers
  • 6 times more likely to retain customers
  • 19 times as likely to be profitable as a result of the use of analytics

Can legal professionals use big data to get these same big results? It might come in a more indirect way, but if better case outcomes lead to happier clients, the answer would be a resounding ‘yes’.

Data Analytics: What Does It Mean?

Data analytics involves analyzing and modelling large sets of data to understand how real-world processes work so you can make predictions and decisions about how to proceed. In legal terms: to predict the likely outcome of a case, or to judge the best strategy to pursue.

Without data analytics, these actions might require a team of legal beagles poring through stacks of old documents, searching for cases and decisions that pertain to the case at hand. Anecdotal evidence and intuition also play a part in this ‘tech-less’ decision-making process.

With all case data recorded digitally these days, applying data analytics to these processes would not take a huge leap. Instead of doing it by hand or by guesswork, each method prone to errors, technology can run the analysis for you.

Although lawyers have been late to the game, it’s clear that some are now seizing data analysis in a big way.

In Defence of Data

A growing number of in-house defence attorneys and other defenders are using predictive modelling in litigation to assess the probability of case outcomes.

Predicting a motion’s success in front of a certain judge, determining which lawyer to use in which case, and even deciding when to settle – these can all be gleaned through analytics.

But wait, aren’t both sides trying to win the case?

Plaintiffs Missing the Boat?

With comments like “I would rather talk to members of the bar and lawyers I respected about their experiences with a specific judge”, and “I’m not running a data analysis on what motion I’m going to file … I’m just talking to local counsel,” many observers believe that plaintiff attorneys are missing out on a golden opportunity to capitalize on the treasure trove of data available.

The mistake here is the belief (fear?) that A.I. is replacing their expertise. In fact, it can provide a valuable enhancement and extension to a lawyer’s wisdom. The number of experiences any particular lawyer and their colleagues might have had with a specific court would be microscopic compared to the massive volumes of legal data that could be accessed by an analytics program.

Imagine being able to tell a client, with confidence, and precision backed up by reams of empirical data, their odds of winning a case, how long it will take, and how much it’s going to cost.

Winning Begets Winning

While commercial industries may have a head start, it’s not too late for lawyers to take advantage of data analytics. Big data can help you win more cases and secure better outcomes for your clients. And making that kind of positive impact can help you land new clients, retain old ones, and improve profitability.