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5 Ways To Use Legal Analytics Tools To Work Smarter, Not Harder

More seasoned attorneys will tell stories about the days they had to go to a physical law library to do legal research. They’ll explain how they learned to collect data about court outcomes informally through word of mouth in the hallways and how they were forced to spend hours painstakingly organizing discovery by hand during litigation.

Luckily, the legal world is changing. While some of this manual work still exists, advanced technology, such as legal analytics, has revolutionized the practice of law, making lawyers’ work easier, more productive, and more profitable. Law firms and corporate law departments that want to succeed in the modern era must embrace legal analytics and wield the power of artificial intelligence for their benefit—or else be left behind.

In this blog post, I’ll explain what legal analytics tools are and how they’re useful. I’ll then explain where the data underlying legal analytics comes from and suggest five ways you can use legal analytics to work smarter, not harder. 

Contents 

What are legal analytics tools?
Why are legal analytics tools important?
What data is incorporated into legal analytics?
5 smart ways to use legal analytics
1. Streamlining eDiscovery
2. Facilitating law firm marketing and increasing client satisfaction
3. Making informed, risk-based litigation decisions
4. Improving legal research
5. Promoting lawyer productivity
With legal analytics tools, you can work smarter, not harder 

What are legal analytics tools? 

Legal analytics tools are technologies that compile and analyze legal data to inform lawyers’ decision-making. Starting from large data sets, they reveal patterns and extract insights so that lawyers can make smarter, risk-based decisions for their clients and their business. For instance, lawyers are using legal analytics tools to answer questions about the likelihood of winning a case and whether they should hire an additional lawyer.

Of course, data itself is a valuable tool, and many lawyers already collect data about their clients, employees, internal business practices, and the larger legal market. The problem is that, without legal analytics tools, raw data can be overwhelming and confusing. It’s difficult to sort through a morass of information to figure out its true meaning or what it portends. And if the data is not collected and analyzed objectively, it loses its value.

Luckily, advanced legal analytics tools can assist counsel in collecting and synthesizing volumes of data into useful information to help law practices flourish. 

Why are legal analytics tools important? 

Legal analytics tools encourage informed, rational decision-making and empower lawyers to run an organized, productive law practice.

This means that law firms can make smarter business decisions that help them improve their clients’ outcomes, save money, and increase their profitability. Instead of guessing whether cases are strong enough on their merits to win, lawyers can use legal analytics software to predict case outcomes or suggest winning arguments based on patterns in historical case data.

Analytics can also inform settlement negotiations and guide lawyers on how to use their resources wisely. Ultimately, legal analytics saves time for lawyers while also enabling them to deliver better service and make the best use of their resources. 

What data is incorporated into legal analytics? 

Legal analytics tools collect three broad categories of data and turn it into useful insights: 

  1. individual data,
  2. internal data, and
  3. legal industry data. 

Individual data is information about a firm’s current and future clients, including information that is collected whenever someone peruses the firm’s website. This encompasses information collected from consultation request forms and data about how potential clients interact with the website, such as search terms used and time spent on particular pages. Individual data can also include client data stored within a firm or corporate law department’s secure file storage system. With that data, certain legal analytics tools can analyze documents and document metadata to inform case management and guide eDiscovery strategy.

Internal data is information about a firm or law department’s business practices, such as billing rates, legal spend in practice areas, and billable hours. This data might also include productivity data related to individual lawyers and support staff.

Legal industry data is data that has been externally collected from outside research groups, court dockets, and sources that cover the wider trends within the legal community. This might include data about case outcomes or trends about hot practice areas or changing client preferences. 

5 smart ways to use legal analytics 

Legal analytics has changed over the years, and providers are constantly updating their software and improving functionality to adapt. While early legal analytics software generally provided fewer features, the advanced tools available today serve a wide range of goals for legal professionals. Below are five ways to use legal analytics tools. 

1. Streamlining eDiscovery 

While eDiscovery was once tedious and time-consuming, legal analytics tools have helped lawyers simplify its complex processes, making it both more efficient and more useful for determining likely case outcomes and guiding litigation or settlement strategies. These tools detect trends and patterns in client data using artificial intelligence to help lawyers understand data better and make better strategic decisions.

Structural analytics can give an overview of the scope of a data set. For example, analytics tools can study file metadata to organize files, while email threading and duplicate and near-duplicate detection can streamline data sets.

Conceptual analytics can help lawyers understand the relationships between documents and provide a high-level overview of a corpus of documents. These tools can recognize concepts and use them to group related documents together and can even identify the sentiment or emotion behind documents, flagging concerning documents for review.

Finally, predictive analytics, such as technology-assisted review, can prioritize the documents most likely to be relevant and make educated predictions about privileged documents or content; they can also detect and classify contract clauses. 

With these insights, legal teams can conduct more accurate early case assessment, reduce the volume of eDiscovery data advancing to review, accelerate and improve the quality of document review, and substantially lower the total cost of eDiscovery. 

2. Facilitating law firm marketing and increasing client satisfaction 

A law firm is, quite literally, nothing without its clients. Fortunately, legal analytics tools have revolutionized lawyers’ ability to recognize “ideal” clients and design effective marketing strategies to capture those clients. Many helpful tools can analyze the characteristics of the ideal client, identify the target market to maximize profitability, and channel business to the firm.

These tools can also help with benchmarking. For example, law departments can compare their performance against peer departments. And instead of wasting money on unsuccessful marketing campaigns, legal analytics tools can help a firm craft a plan—based on real data—to target and draw in lucrative clients and increase the firm’s profitability. 

3. Making informed, risk-based litigation decisions 

Clients are in the pesky habit of asking their lawyers to predict the future, but few lawyers are naïve enough to make the attempt. Predictive legal analytics tools, however, give lawyers the next best thing: a way to accurately predict the specific characteristics of a case based on real case data.

For example, modern analytics tools can predict the likelihood of winning a case, the probable length of litigation, and the number of hours that the firm should allocate to working on it, all based on past data. This insight is invaluable for saving time and money because it lets counsel know which battles are worth fighting and which should be promptly settled (and for how much). The best part is that these predictions are personalized based on the specific jurisdiction, judge, and even opposing counsel in question. 

4. Improving legal research 

Lawyers are intimately familiar with legal research and are accustomed to digging through reams of case law to identify the nuggets of wisdom they need. Luckily, legal research has been revolutionized in the past few decades so that lawyers no longer need to spend hours flipping through dense books in the law library. Instead, relevant legal precedent from around the country, and even around the world, is available with a few keystrokes and clicks on a keypad.

Analytics tools for legal research save lawyers time and effort—and help them win cases—by rapidly identifying relevant and significant cases that can inform their arguments and strategy. Most legal research platforms clearly identify the procedural posture of a case and whether it is controlling. Searches can be narrowed by practice area, date, location, or even the number of times that a search term appears within the opinion. These capabilities all arise from data analytics.

Not only do legal research tools create an easy way to sort through legal cases, but they also provide access to treatises, pleadings, jury instructions, and other helpful materials. In fact, many state bar associations provide free access to legal research tools so that all lawyers can benefit from this powerful technology. 

5. Promoting lawyer productivity 

Legal analytics don’t just help clients; legal analytics software can also tell partners and law department leaders which lawyers are the most productive, efficient, and cost-effective—and which lawyers need to improve. This data is critical for making decisions about assignments and promotions and deciding how to manage attorneys and their workload.

For instance, with legal analytics tools that track billable hours, you can see how long a lawyer spends working on a specific case and dedicate more expensive resources (partners and senior associates) for only the most important work. Law firms and corporate law departments can also explore hiring remote lawyers and see how the costs and benefits stack up against full-time employees. 

Not only can managers get unparalleled access to data about associates, but legal analytics can also provide tools to help underperforming lawyers get back on track. Many products have attorney dashboards, automated document management, and client collaboration tools to boost productivity. 

With legal analytics tools, you can work smarter, not harder 

Given the many ways that legal analytics tools can benefit clients and legal professionals, it’s no wonder that 70 percent of law firms are already using them. Lawyers can leverage legal analytics tools to increase profitability and improve client outcomes while saving time and reducing the frustration of laborious manual work. With legal analytics tools, eDiscovery is faster and more affordable, firms can market themselves more effectively, lawyers can provide more informed guidance to their clients about litigation decisions, legal research is easier and more comprehensive, and lawyers can be more productive.

Instead of letting your competitors or opposing counsel get the edge, try working smarter this year by implementing or upgrading your legal analytics software. To learn more about legal analytics tools and how they play into digital transformation, check out our digital transformation roadmap