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The Value that Legal Analytics Can have in an Organization’s Data Stack

In this special guest feature, Aria Nejad, In-house Counsel at Lex Machina, discusses how this additional data source can have organizational value across departments, the type of data that this gives them access to, and various potential applications. In his role as In-house Counsel at Lex Machina, Aria provides guidance to in-house counsel clients with the relevant information about using legal analytics to uncover strategic insights. Prior to Lex Machina, Aria practiced law as an immigration attorney, representing clients in immigration courts in Utah, Nevada, and California. Prior to that, he worked at two Am Law 100firms, advising new partners and associates on client development strategies and serving on each firm’s Pro Bono and Diversity & Inclusion Committees. While in law school, Aria assisted the ACLU by drafting memoranda on various bills over two legislative sessions on Utah’s Capitol Hill and testifying in front of the Utah State Senate and Utah House of Representatives on public policy matters. He was awarded the Fabian Law Scholarship for his dedication to pro-bono work.

Corporate counsel are tasked with operating legal departments like any other business unit, delivering faster and better service at less cost. They are expected to provide metrics that help assess risk, validate their legal strategy, and help them win cases. Corporate law departments have become a powerful force in molding the future of business, and resultantly deal with a steady stream of challenges. But forward-looking law departments are not intimidated. Increasing numbers of corporate counsel across the globe are seizing the opportunity presented by data and analytics and transforming their departments around the insights they provide.

It has been said that if you want to learn the story of an organization, look at its business records. When analyzed with intent, the data resulting from a business’s daily operations and interactions can be more revealing than one might guess. Data is often used for both the business and the practice of law. Legal departments can use analytics for both legal operations as well as determining legal strategy. Within each category, there is an entire universe of applications including spend analytics, performance analytics, decision analytics, compliance analytics, and judicial analytics, to name a few. However, it is of critical importance to assure the analytics are accurate and complete. Many legal analytics platforms offer “quick and dirty”analytics, which raises concern for the legal professionals who take on the dangerous risk of professional inaccuracy by relying on those analytics. It’s irresponsible to provide analytics that are partial or incomplete and claim that an area of law has been covered, because when it comes to legal analytics, anything less than the best, most comprehensive data is not good enough because it opens you up to risks caused by inaccuracy.

The insights derived from the business of law analytics are primarily process-oriented. They can be used to improve legal operations by promoting transparency, predictability, and cost certainty. They help in establishing benchmarks. To reach those goals, sophisticated law departments track metrics related to budget and service delivery. The creation and capture of the data necessary to support these goals are made possible by the explosion of new business intelligence tools and platforms that have become essential for modern legal departments. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the arena where the business and practice of law meet – the courtroom – and make use of the judicial analytics to get an edge over your competition.

Judicial Analytics:

Who are the players in a case? Often the judge, opposing counsel, and parties influence the outcome in a case just as much, if not more, than the law itself. Having the full backstory on these players is essential when using legal analytics to determine case strategy.

When it comes to judges, a fundamental question for case strategy is “How much experience does my judge have in this practice area?” Before legal analytics, practitioners would ask colleagues and learn about judges from anecdotal evidence. Now, searching the judge’s past docket for similar cases is a critical piece of the research process. One can’t always predict what a judge will do, but their past behavior is usually indicative of their future behavior. With just a few clicks, you can now get the full picture of a judge’s docket and can make informed decisions about their experience in the matter of law you’re facing. Then, you can dig deeper to see the judge’s findings, case resolutions, remedies, and damages. Lastly, you can read actual orders from that judge in relevant cases.

Similar to the judge’s docket, you can determine the opposing counsel’s past experience with relevant cases. Besides outcomes, proper legal analytics platforms can show you opposing counsel’s motions and publicly-available settlement information. Legal analytics done right provides an idea of opposing counsel’s writing style, what arguments have been successful, and see what types of settlement agreement information they include with court filings.

Parties can be just as influential in determining case strategy as the judge or counsel. By seeing their entire litigation history, you can understand better who you are up against or who you may want to take on as a client. Strategic decision-making is often driven by the players in a case, and understanding past behavior is key to knowing what to expect. Arm yourself with the most comprehensive, accurate, and transparent legal analytics about judges, parties, and counsel when preparing your plan of action.

In summary, legal analytics is already the must-have tool to help companies and their counsel make smarter, faster, data-driven business and legal decisions. Certainly, the technology around legal analytics is having a profound impact on the way corporations and their law firms approach the practice of law. Companies and their counsel aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit – their outside counsel firms will also make increasing use of litigation analytics in order to become better lawyers, and new applications for legal analytics in the business world will likely emerge. In the meantime, in a world that already relies heavily on data and predictive analytics models to assess new approaches in their respective fields, legal analytics is a welcome addition to the existing tool sets of business professionals and their counsel.

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