Will data-driven law firms act differently to the top firms of today?

18 November 2021 18:06

“Analytics”, “Artificial Intelligence”, “Machine Learning” – these have become the ubiquitous catch cries of our world, the fear mongering we hear at conferences about what is about to hit our firms.  They describe a future wholly different from the present, where the very fabric of the law firm is irreparably changed.

Yet this future never seems to arrive.  The promised disruption seems close but still thankfully just out of reach.

In the meantime, we build and refine what we do.  The best of us measure our internal processes, our market share of new matters across different practice areas, and our performance. Performance both in our win/loss ratios for cases and in the return on investment we provide our clients.

We use the measurements to get better at what we do; we learn through measuring. This learning changes how we do business.  If we are losing market share because we are unprepared in a practice area, we hire external talent, change our business development approach, or do both.

We are in fact using data, and the analytics that visualises this data, to change our business approach.  We are using a ‘build – measure – learn’ methodology like the way a lean start-up business would.

In the US, over 80% of the AMLAW 250 law firms use analytics in the business of law: understanding the competition, their firms’ market share and demonstrating their expertise to win business.  Over 77% also use analytics in the practice of law: gaining competitive insights into opposing counsel, judges, and parties; plus determining case strategy and case assessment.

These are not futuristic use cases; they are already used widely.  Law firms are both building their own and using market insights from legal tech businesses like LexisNexis. LexisNexis for example has invested heavily in building strong analytics capabilities – such as Lex Machina in the US, or in Australia the court and regulator analyser products such as the ACCC Analyser.

Artificial Intelligence is also coming into its own, and again not through disrupting but enabling.  Natural Language Understanding and Generation has progressed enormously since 2015, with technologies like OpenAI’s GPT-3 significantly advancing the state-of-the-art last year.  These technologies are starting to rival humans in their ability to understand and generate language.

Similar technologies are being used in AI powered tools available to law firms. For example, inside Lexis Advance, practitioners can link otherwise unlinked cases through the ‘similar issues’ tool that uses advanced AI to identify legal and factual issues in cases with over 80% tested relevance.  This can significantly improve case outcomes for clients through helping practitioners find relevant unlinked cases.

Is the law firm disrupted?  Hardly, the practitioner is still firmly in control.  Only they now have better legal and market insights.

Disruption, when it comes, is more likely to come from the law firm that operationalises a learning culture and uses all the data available to it.  The firm that uses internal and market data to get more efficient and effective.  The firm that is not hobbled by strong opinions but rather embraces learning from the objective data it has, experiments in how to get better using data to measure, and then grows market share and client outcomes.

To know more about LexisNexis Legal Analytics solutions contact us on 1800 772 772 or email Sales.Enquiries@lexisnexis.com.au

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