A game changer for the legal sector in this era of information technology is Data Analytics. Prosecutors in a German case of murder in January 2018 presented data from an iPhone in court suggesting the suspect had climbed a flight of stairs when it was alleged he had been dragging a body down a steep bank. Data management will change the way both law firms and their clients view the Legal industry in Nigeria. Having access to data, capturing data and storing it properly for easy retrieval will cut down time of investigation by almost 40%, this will help both lawyers and investigators spend more time working on technicalities of the actual case and covering more grounds in generating new leads. Over time, clients’ expectations have changed and there are demands on the legal sector to be more efficient and deliver better services.

Legal firms are more involved in finding and synthesizing relevant information more quickly, even as the body of information you are sifting through continues to grow. This problem should be addressed, as the pressure from clients is not easing up.

Fortunately, there are effective solutions tailored to overcome these challenges. A data management system that can properly manage all supporting documents pertaining to a case are kept together and are easily accessible to all legal counsel with permissions to work on the case. These solutions are empowering “data-driven” legal firms, for whom the big data phenomenon represents an opportunity, rather than an intractable problem.

So how is the legal sector today preparing to accommodate the data-driven legal firms of tomorrow?

Before legal practice is data-driven with the right software, a significant change in mindset and also the willingness to change workflows will definitely be required. Those required fundamentals can change the culture of an organization as well as the ideas, ways, and mindset of those operating the organization.

Data within the legal sectors for decision making are significant but fragmented. Those very important data are sorted through government sources like court data and regulations etc. On the other hand, some legal organizations operate internal data such as data on outcomes and matters. However, based on the fact that the legal sector has not been fully incorporated widely with the use of data, lawyers have often made decisions solely on personal experience and also on their specific expertise.

Moving ahead to a new beginning; data can be leveraged to support legal decision-making in particular, we can look at three areas below:

  • Strategy and Litigation planning— Obtaining data from court dockets to predict the likelihood of success on a motion.
  • Reviewing of Documents — This operates by using predictive coding in eDiscovery tools to determine the relevance of a given document to a legal issue.
  • Budgeting and Pricing— Obtaining relevant data from past billings to predict the cost of a matter and also make provision for a fixed fee to the client.

Below shows a list of several steps to becoming a data-driven practice:

  1. Walk before you run and start with the low-hanging fruit — The place to start with using data to enhance your practice is probably in comparatively mundane applications like billing and matter management systems.
  2. Identify and organize your data — Simply understanding what data you have is an important first step.
  3. Clean up your data — Data hygiene is a critical step. 
  4. Collaborate with those who know data well — Leveraging analytics in a legal organization requires lawyers to work in collaboration with people who understand data and data structures.
  5. Build a data-driven culture in your organization — Building a data-driven legal practice is not something you assign to a task force, department, or an individual.

 

Written by Pauline Odey