How Big Data Is Transforming the Legal Industry
In this special guest feature, Jennifer Roberts, Data Scientist at Intapp, observes how many industries, in general, find big data. Legal will also find out. The day will come, but not fast enough for most companies and their clients. Jennifer has spent the last six years studying data science applications in the professional service market. At Intapp, he is responsible for analytical and research components that support new thought leadership and initiatives. By utilizing his skills to advocate, evangelize, and build data-driven products and insights, he examines the legal industry to encourage analytical intelligence that informs strategic decisions and resolves organizational needs. Jennifer received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Minnesota, focusing on anthropology and applied statistics.
In many industries, “big data” is used to encourage better and more informed decision making. But its use in the legal industry is relatively new, mainly because most law firms are resistant to new IT changes and expenditures on unknown initiatives.
Many companies are also reluctant to embrace big data solutions because they only have incomplete, inaccurate or outdated data – aka “dirty” (or even “dirty,” as some companies explained to me). Results? Faltering trust in data and cultural barriers within the company provides little momentum for companies to believe that they can achieve ROI from big data solutions.
In addition, whatever form of corporate data, there is no point without analytic resources to turn it into actionable insights and information. Despite the growing role within the company, it is another area where most companies fail, because the staff graph analysis from the 2018 ILTA Technology survey shows:
Also important is the fact that most companies believe that using data driven insights is important, but few really support actions and resources, as shown by a recent survey by The Lawyer. One example relates to the important task of managing client terms, where 90 percent of companies believe that is important but only 16 percent use technology solutions for this purpose.
The examination of the reality of big data that I described here is a big problem for the industry considering that basic implementation can drive efficiency in the company’s processes; for example, improving workflows to encourage more efficient internal procedures and data retrieval, which leads to faster and more capable client services.
On the other side of this “half-empty” view is the current environment, where costs go down and data collection technology becomes more effective. Results? Big data now offers tremendous potential for law firms to improve their entire business model, exceed client expectations and increase profitability.
One area where big data plays an important role is management and case / project preparation. Thousands of cases are filed annually in the US alone – and the number is increasing. Every problem requires tracking information about jurisdiction, decisions, precedents, interpreting laws, witness statements, court records, summary judges, and more.
In addition to enhancing experience throughout the customer lifecycle, big data helps law firms achieve efficiency in time management and billing, including developing a deep understanding of the most profitable types of material and a team of lawyers for various things to predict which clients are the most profitable team and pricing model .
Big data is also used strategically by smart companies for business development and marketing efforts. Better solutions inform more targeted and effective marketing and customer relations strategies; encouraging ROI while allowing a tax-excess business development team to focus on the most profitable opportunities.
Some suggestions for starting the path to a big data solution that will win even the most skeptical partners:
Data rules the king. Outside the law, most other industries have embraced strong insights that are driven by data and operationalize those findings, which results in large gains in efficiency and profit. Current time for law.
Start small and wake up momentum. Be a change agent, starting with a small guerrilla team; Members do not even need to be “full time equivalent” colleagues (FTE) because there are more non-legal resources with analytical experience available. Focus on practice or industry with groups that are more likely to be data. This can be a team that uses phase codes and assignments as part of client compliance, or perhaps the nature of the work requires additional coding.
Do not delay the use of data productively. There are legitimate reasons for ownership of data, problems, and politics, but they cannot be overcome. Also, you don’t need a data scientist to run data. By starting small with a smart team, you can get something that can be consumed (albeit static).
Other industries, in general, have found big data.Legal will also find out. The day will come, but not fast enough for most companies and their clients. On the market today, empowered clients expect more from their law firms and are willing to leave when their needs are not met. In the end, it is the clients who will drive this change, along with companies that embrace modern technology. Invest in it and plan for the long term.