Posted by: johnocunningham | April 20, 2014

Law Firm Using Big Data For Lower Costs and Better Results

This week, Law Technology News reported that international law firm Reed Smith is using a home-grown software program known as “Periscope” to analyze current and historical data related to e-discovery, discovery costs and the efficiency of various discovery reviewers (see story in Law Technology News).

The end result is a dashboard of useful information that can help the firm manage discovery better, lowering costs and providing predictability of future costs and timelines for discovery based on past cases. The management tool reportedly can also assess the demonstrated efficiency and accuracy of individual reviewers so that they can be put to work on critical cases. Interestingly, the tool has determined that efficiency is not at all related to a reviewer’s school “pedigrees” or even how long they have been in practice.

Real-time reports on discovery-related billing, collections and comparisons of budget to actual spending are also made possible by Periscope.

This is the kind of attention to value and service that is based on listening to clients’ longstanding concerns about lack of predictability and control over discovery costs. A law firm that “gets” this is the kind of law firm that will attract more and more clients in the future. Law firms that don’t will lose market share over time, wondering why.

As noted in this blog’s prior references to IBM’s Watson, the day of big data is upon us, whether law firms like it or not, and third-party providers will develop these tools for assessing the efficiency and performance of individual lawyers and firms even if law firms do not. Eventually, third-party providers who learn to master predictive coding and discovery management software could take the lion’s share of litigation revenue from those law firms that resist technology and refuse to master its use.

I can hear partners at law firms saying now, “We’re in the profession of law, not the business of technology.” Oh, if the world were only that simple. EVERY organization that competes for customers (or even, gasp, clients) had better develop a technology edge, and soon, or they will be out of their business (or their profession). Every business in the world is competing for market share based on price, value and efficiency, and prudent use of technology is the critical difference maker on those drivers now.

There are many competent lawyers and law firms out there. The choice that clients make now is based on service, value, and efficiency just as much as results.


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