Legal Practice

A Beginners Guide to Legal Analytics

Guide to legal analytics and research

A for … Analytics?

The legal profession is the subject matter of great stereotypes. People often joke that a good lawyer knows the law, while a better lawyer knows the Judge. While this saying may seem to paint the legal profession in a negative light, it need not necessarily be so. Why is it, you ask? Well, we shall find out through this article. Here, we will be discussing the begginer’s guide to legal analytics.

Most of the law is codified. This implies that most of them are written down. Additionally, this means that law can be found in statutes and journals. Case laws, which form a vital cog in the arguments stage are also codified. Anything that is penned down, is easier to track and trace. Basically, being written down simplifies research.

Being a data-driven profession, sound legal research is extremely vital. It refers to looking up case laws and law provisions, which fit the point of law to be argued upon. Legal research, rather good legal research, is the first step towards a legal professional’s preparedness, but it is not enough.

Presently, as the world is becoming increasingly digital, it is needless to say that legal research may not be enough. While legal research would grant any lawyer the edge, legal analytics would surely provide the cutting edge. Sometimes, the existence of analytics or the lack thereof may dictate the difference between a positive and a negative verdict.

Knowledge is Power

We have to consider that legal research tools are available at large. The only way to beat the competition, therefore, is to have that extra something. Legal analytics is nothing but accelerated or transcended legal research. It is the analysis of the data lurking within the field of law. Analysis of data results in Big Data.

Analytics tools help normal data, which is pretty basic information, mature into big data after being assimilated and collated. The power of analytics could help uncover data patterns which in turn would assist in strategizing. Mind matters and the first step to deliver a winning argument is to be confident about it in the head. Strategizing could help with that.

Legal data analytics uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology to sift through bytes of legal documents and establish intelligible patterns. These tools would reveal any decision patterns in similar cases, or in similar cases heard by such and such Judge. Knowledge regarding the quantum of damages awarded, or perhaps how evidence is heard would indeed become commonplace. Trends relating to various courtrooms, Judges, expert witnesses, can all be collated by implementing legal analytics. When we say “know the judge”, we refer to the outlook and mannerisms of the judge. This knowledge is free for all and can be a weapon in your arsenal.

Precisely, the nitty-gritty of advocacy would be readily available at the fingertips. As an advocate, you would revel at such advancements, for if knowledge is power, then you would now play God!

ABC’s of Legal Analytics

The basics of legal analytics encompass the following:

1. Knowledge of the temperament of the Judge/adjudicator

Temperament refers to the outlook or disposition. Knowledge of the Judge/adjudicator’s temperament would show how he has dealt with similar issues and points of arguments in the past. These tools could also help indicate whether and to what extent the adjudicator has a relief-oriented mind.

2. Knowledge about the pet-peeves of the Judge/adjudicator

Knowledge about the pet-peeves would tell you what to argue, what not to argue, and most importantly how to argue. This knowledge would help to strategize and steer clear of points of arguments that the adjudicator is not favorable towards. Additionally, you would be aware of mannerisms that the Judge endears or loathes.

3. Probability of receiving a favorable decision on a set of facts

Depending upon the probability of a favorable decision, one can divide the time and effort spent on preparing for arguments. Often, there may be multiple hearings on a given day. Paucity of time requires better marshaling of resources to every matter.

4. The estimated amount of damages on a set of facts

An estimate of the damages made payable or receivable in similar cases would illustrate the extent of the stakes involved. These estimations could help devise arguments accordingly. A more experienced counsel would have to engage for a more high stakes matter.

5. Knowledge of favorable local customs and rituals

An immersive knowledge of the local rituals and customs would only help reinforce your arguments. Favorable local customs and religious practices can influence the judicial mind in your favor.

6. Knowledge about clients, counsel, and solicitor firms

One of the most interesting elements of legal data analytics; this basically makes the profession an open book. Just as data could be found about Judges/adjudicators, the same is possible for clients, counsels, and organizations as well. The win/loss ratio of clients, counsels, and solicitor firms would be readily available. These tools could also help surmise the strengths and weaknesses of advocates.

7. Knowledge about costs and pricing

Every matter requires an investment of a considerable amount of time, money, and human effort. The tools of legal analytics could help define and determine the costs and pricing structure amongst competitors. Thus, law firms as well as independent counsels will be able to adopt a competitive yet rewarding price and costs model. Legal Analytics will also help in time management thereby allowing a seamless shift from non-billable work to billable work.

Beyond Legal Research?

Having reached so far, you may be wondering about the difference between legal research and legal analytics.

While the research focuses solely on case laws and law provisions, analytics dabbles with the factors influencing such laws and provisions. Analytics attempts to look beyond what is readily visible, and map what is scarcely visible. Moreover, digital tools like AI and Machine Learning would help derive the data at a much faster rate than manual techniques. Such tools can help discern legal language and relevant paragraphs from a plethora of judgments. This would save the hours spent in perusing pages of case laws in the hope of coming across something relevant.

Remember, good legal research is no doubt extremely valuable and acts as a foundation for good legal analytics. Legal analytics, however, adds several teeth to the tiger that is sound legal research, and therein lies all the difference. A lawyer is only as good as his research capabilities, and it is up to you to help mould people’s outlook towards this noble profession.

Today, a good lawyer knows the law, a better lawyer knows the Judge, but the best knows and applies analytics! 

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by Biswaroop Mukherjee

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