Bob Ambrogi and I have a running dispute. He says I was the first one to ask whether it might be malpractice to not use legal data analytics in today’s litigation world. I say he was the first one to ask that very legitimate question.


But it really doesn’t matter who first coined the question. Recent results from the third annual Legal Analytics Survey by LexisNexis suggests if the answer is not already yes, it’s getting darn close to it.

Here are some key stats from the Study entitled Bringing Legal Analytics Into Focus:


  • 70% of large law firms use legal analytics tools,


  • 75% of respondents report an increase in usage at their firm over the last year.


  • 73% of respondents at firms with access to the tools report using legal analytics, either directly or indirectly.


  • Among users, 90% say the technology makes them better lawyers, and 92% plan to increase use over the next year.


Litigation analytics is now mainstream

Pretty impressive numbers. Clearly, among large firms, litigation analytics is now mainstream.


And analytics are not just used to gain litigation insights. According to the Survey, over three-quarters of analytics users say “gaining competitive insights'” is very to somewhat important. Other important uses include “pricing projects or legal matters” (68%) and “competitive intelligence for pursuing new business” (67%). What this means is that if you aren’t using analytics, you simply are at a competitive disadvantage especially in the large law firm market.


Another vital metric: 81% of users say use of legal analytics is encouraged or looked upon favorably by clients. “The results from this year’s study clearly show we’ve reached a tipping point in the legal analytics adoption curve driven by competitive pressures, the expectations of corporate clients, and the need to control costs,” sys Karl Harris, CEO of Lex Machina, a LexisNexis company.


When people say legal is slow to change, they might want to consider the rise of analytics

When people say legal is slow to change, they might want to consider the rise of analytics from its inception barely ten years ago till today. I met up with Harris at this year’s LegalWeek to talk about the Survey and rate of adoption. Harris very much looks and acts the part of a Silicon Vally computer company CEO. (He graduated from Stanford Law School, and received his bachelor and masters computer science degrees from Dartmouth and the University of Texas). Harris believes that development of legal analytics stemmed from a Stanford professor named Mark Lemley wondering the best jurisdiction in which to file a patent case.


At the time (2010), says Harris, there was no readily available way to answer the relatively straightforward question. A group of Stanford law students did some research, built a database, and discovered that Florida was the place. (Lemley famously finished his Paper on this research by asking, “Q. Mark, you’ve just completed an exhaustive study of where to file your patent suit. What are you going to do now?” Answer: “I’m going to Disney World.”).

The researchers took the database and decided to expand it to other areas, and from this effort, Lex Machina (Latin for legal machine) was born. According to Harris, they didn’t even know what to call what they were doing until someone suggested the phrase legal analytics.


Says Harris: “Since law firms began using legal analytics ten years ago, we’ve seen tremendous growth and adoption, with an increasing number of Am Law 200 firms relying on legal analytics to win in the business and practice of law.”


Particularly in the last two years, the growth of analytics has accelerated, and the use cases expanded. This growth is evidenced by an equally expanding competitive landscape. Companies like Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg, and FastCase have also entered the field. In fact, last summer, I reported on a Study done by the American Association of Law Librarians. This Study compared seven programs that are competing in the legal analytics space.


Harris believes that this explosion in the use of analytics is fueled by client expectations. It’s also the result of competitive pressures, which he appropriately labels as “the fear of missing out.”


And the future promises even greater and more use. The big gap in analytics is the lack of state court data. Since most litigators practice in state court at least part of the time, that a big missing piece.  But Harris and Lex Machina is working on that too. Lex Machina it has embarked on an ambitious and costly project to get the state court data at least from areas where there is lots of litigation. Lex Machina is also working to put all that data in a useable format for practitioners. Of course, once that happens, it won’t just be big firm lawyers that use analytics, it will be most every lawyer.


At that point, the answer to the Ambrogi/Embry malpractice question will be obvious.


Photo Attribution

Marcus Spiske via Unsplash