The Surprising Impact of Big Data in Legal Professions

Big data touches nearly every industry, and the legal world is no exception. Here, a few surprising notes on the impact of big data in legal professions.

July 1, 2018
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I have been to countless big data conferences over the past few years. I see lots of presentations from developers, actuaries, analysts, and other professionals. Most of their work emphasizes the importance of using big data for industrial applications, marketing and finance. However, there are some other industries that are being affected by it as much as any other. The legal profession has been touched by the world of big data, just like almost all other professions. It hasn’t received as much discussion, but the implications of big data in legal professions are just as significant.

How Big Data is Disrupting the Legal Profession in Ways Pundits Never Anticipated

Big data has disrupted nearly every industry

 in the world. Did you know that 90% of the data in the world today was created in the last two years?

It has grown at an incredible pace and it’s not going to slow down. Big data is changing every industry, and the legal industry is no exception. Let’s take a look at what big data in legal professions means for the legal system.

A Greater Need for Data Protection

There have been countless high-profile incidents where data has been leaked or manipulated by outsiders. The legal industry is a sensitive one.

Liability for data breaches will sit with the legal firms themselves. As well as losing trust, they could find themselves in serious financial trouble as a result of fines and external legal action against them if they fail to protect client data.

Legal firms maintain highly sensitive details and the need for comprehensive data protection plans will only grow. This traditionally conservative industry is one that can’t afford to be left behind in this field, or clients will find it difficult to put trust in their lawyers.

Finding the Right Precedents

The United States and most other countries use common law legal systems, rather than Napoleonic ones. This means that finding similar cases with relevant precedents is very important.

However, precedents are often difficult to find. The legal system has been in place in the United States for nearly 250 years.

The good news is that big data makes it much easier to track relevant precedents. Almost all of them have been archived. Lawyers can use Hadoop tools to find case laws and precedents with relevant keywords. For example, if they are working on a property dispute case, they can search all precedents with keywords such as “property dispute” or other terms that are likely to show up in these types of cases.

Knowing When to Take a Case

The benefit of data analytics is its ability to provide users with the chance to spot trends. Lawyers could use data analytics to figure out when to take a case and when to recommend that their clients don’t pursue it. They will be able to look at whether similar cases have succeeded in the past and whether a client has a reasonable chance of success if they go to court.

Understanding the Legal System with Data Analytics

Lawyers are often playing a guessing game as to when they file a case, where they file it, and whether the judge is likely to side with them.

It’s possible to analyze thousands of cases in seconds and find out information like how judges rule on specific cases, whether they rule a certain way at a certain time of the week, if the season impacts their judgments, and if sentences are harder at certain times of the day.

These may seem like minor issues, but judges are human and seemingly minor factors may influence how they rule.

Why Did a Case Fail?

A lawyer who lost a case always wants to know what they could have done better. Data analytics can help with that.

By analyzing thousands of cases, they can discover if judges commonly rule against a specific pattern of reasoning. Lawyers can learn where they went wrong and how they could have gotten a better verdict for their clients. It could help improve the skills of lawyers across the country.

Dealing with Administrative Issues

Administrative issues are just as important as handling cases themselves. Big data helps facilitate billing, marketing and other core functions of law firms.

Last Word – Big Data is Here to Stay

The fact is that big data is not going away anytime soon. The legal industry has to adapt to the brand-new possibilities offered by big data, ranging from lawyers all the way to court reporters. It’s now time for the legal industry to change and they have to take action soon to avoid falling behind. How do you think the legal industry will be impacted by the coming of big data?