Apr 18 2013

There’s a New Judge in the Legal Industry: Big Data

The future for Big Data-based business intelligence could drive decision making both inside and outside the courtroom.

Silicon Valley visionary Marc Andreessen famously wrote in The Wall Street Journal, “Software is eating the world.” While that may be true, if software is eating the world, Big Data is washing it down with a tall glass of lemonade.

Almost every industry is scrambling to put together strategies and solutions to respond to the Big Data challenge. Far too many data sets that could unlock potential insights are currently left either unanalyzed or left uncollected.

The legal field, with its reputation for intense documentation and records management, has Big Data on the brain.

During The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology podcast, Jim Calloway, director of the Oklahoma Bar Association's Management Assistance Program, and Sharon Nelson, president of digital forensics and IT security firm Sensei Enterprises, spoke with Jobst Elster of the InsideLegal blog about Big Data’s present and future role in the legal industry.

“Corporate law departments today can analyze large amounts of data from invoices that they get to determine which factors most influence rates and negotiate better deals based on that data,” he says. “There’s currently an app called RateDriver, which is in the iTunes Store, which crunches data from thousands of law firm invoices and comes up with a billing rate.”

Having access to this kind of business intelligence can help firms get a better picture of their most valuable clients, making it possible to adjust resources to support the clients that benefit the firm the most.

But Big Data can play a role beyond the firm and in the courtroom as well. Lawyers can tap into the wealth of case history to better understand the likelihood of winning a case, based on historical data.

“Lawyers can use Big Data analytics when it comes to winning cases. Much like an ROI calculator, it would show consumers the likelihood of winning a case and the true cost,” he says.

Using Big Data to predict case outcomes might prove useful in reducing frivolous litigation, but in criminal cases, where “guilty” and “not guilty” rulings are on the line, people might want to take the leap of faith, regardless of what Big Data predicts.

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