Posted by: johnocunningham | November 13, 2014

Big Data Coming to Big Law?

When I have asked C-suite officers what they would like to see from their outside legal counsel that they don’t get now, one of the common replies is about data, particularly trial-related data.

Executives run their businesses on data used to forecast costs, revenues, depreciation, and hazards of all kinds. When you ask them about a product or service they provide, they can tell you the line item cost and the expected margins related to every component part of what they are selling, sometimes down to the penny.

So they just don’t get and can’t understand how law firms run without knowing how to accurately forecast the chances of success in a given case, or the likely costs of discovery and trial.

Fortunately, a number of professionals outside of law firms are working on this. Lex Machina, for example, is now using big data to check on case outcomes based on jurisdiction, judge, type of case, and other factors. For patents, they can search by type of patent to see how often an issue has been litigated, where and with what outcome.

TyMetrix, a division of Wolters Kluwer, similarly offers the ability to analyze data related to transactional matters, according to hours, fees, geographic location of service, matter duration, industry and other factors.

So we are starting to see solutions to the dearth of data that clients want. Law firms will either embrace the idea of budgeting and forecasting scientifically, or they will have it imposed upon them by clients who figure out the solutions before they do.

If you want happy clients, it is probably a good idea to learn the mastery of big legal data before they do !

[Disclosure: Neither TyMetrix nor LexMachina is a client of mine, and I am not endorsing their products, but merely providing examples of ways in which big data is influencing the professional services field.]

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