It makes sense that law firms are reluctant to digitize their data. They possess a multitude of confidential information, and are concerned about privacy and security issues.
Certainly, digitizing their data poses challenges and risks, but similarly to every other industry, it is the only way forward. Soon enough we won’t be able to imagine a world in which all data is not digitized. They even say that big data is the new competitive advantage. In the recent past, it has been competitive advantage that has driven innovation and success in business.
So, let’s discuss some of the ways that big data is transforming law, for the better.
Speeding Up the Process
Typically, we picture law firms as a series of offices that have been turned into war rooms. There are papers scattered everywhere. They have to spread everything out so that they can see it all; if its locked up in a storage cabinet, it could be forgotten. It gets messy, so they must carefully and slowly reorganize it as frequently as possible. They must carefully and accurately collect, store, organize and catalogue all of the information. This certainly takes time. Once it is old news, it is stored in old case files and stacked away.
Now, however, law firms have the ability to take advantage of the modern day computing power. They can quickly store whatever they want, and however much of it they’d like. This enables them to gather more information in the first place. They can also analyze a great deal more, and in a shorter period of time. Therefore it is more likely that they will have a piece of information that is valuable.
Using smart data, law firms can even shorten 20 days into a mere 20 minutes. Typically it takes a firm roughly 20 days to determine if a case is worth taking. Now, they can use an algorithm that do this for them. The algorithms can predict which cases to take based on how similar cases in the same jurisdiction worked out. This prediction takes only 20 minutes, and is just as accurate as the 20-day process.
All the old case files that are stacked and stored away? They take up a lot of space. And space is expensive. Furthermore, you are going to need to pay a very, very patient person (which there are almost none of these left in our society anymore) to collect, store, organize and catalogue all of the physical information. Someone that is doing that tedious of a job must get paid a lot.
With today’s computing power, law firms don’t have to worry about any of the above. Computing power has become both strong enough and cheap enough for firms to store a plethora of data.
Furthermore, they can more appropriately determine costs. A new data analytics tool allows firms to benchmark themselves among others in the industry to determine the right price for a case.
This same tool also gives companies a better idea of the right price they should be charged. It gives companies a macro view of the costs of legal services, across space and time. It can even give them advice on how to get the best deal on legal services in any given location.
This can also be accomplished at an individual level. A new app, RateDriver enables any user to determine an approximate rate for services. It works quickly, and works in 51 states. It enables users to determine the appropriate rate they should expect to pay for legal services, so they can be confident that they won’t overpay.
New and Better Evidence in Court
To me, this is the most important. There are countless stories of our system convicting the wrong man, or incarcerating an innocent man. The evidence may not be sufficient, the lawyer may not have noticed a minor detail, or maybe even several jury members are sick and not able to focus on the evidence that is being presented.
Data can help solve this immense problem.
Today, big data that has been collected and analyzed from public data sets can be used as evidence. While the law has always been data-driven, previously all the data was on paper, and therefore difficult to analyze, assess and especially compare. Now, with digitized data, a law firm can easily connect its data to other public data sets. This can provide tremendous insight, and also clarification.
A legal big data firm, Juristat, says that they can even predict how a flu outbreak might affect a jury verdict.
While legal firms are concerned about the challenges of digitizing their data, the benefits of doing so are grand. It enables the firms to be more efficient, and even makes the system more fair and just. Now, if we can challenge ourselves to eliminate the current risks associated with digitizing their data, we will soon have no excuse to not digitize data in the field of law. Before, everyone catches on to this, it might be time to find Data Solutions for your law firm.