My people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge. Hosea 4:6.
As we close out 2022, it’s customary to look back and highlight the most noteworthy events or discuss all the things we are thankful for during the year.
While I have a lot of things to be thankful for, I want to focus on what we have to be most grateful for from a legal tech standpoint. Looking back at 2022, what had the most significant positive impact on legal? And its data. What can data do for lawyers? What it can show us. Information we never had before.
The impact data can have in legal was driven home to me in a recent discussion with Jackie Bell, Research & Data Editor, Law360 Pulse. Law360 Pulse recently released its second annual Leaderboard law firm rankings. The rankings are supported by data from Intelligize and Lex Machina.
The rankings highlight and rank firms across a broad range of criteria. Criteria such as culture, reputation, and business practice. More specifically, according to Law360, the rankings “are designed to measure the relative performance of law firms against their peers and provide context for an industry…”
The rankings measure firms in three broad areas. The Prestige Report examines what Law 360 considers four indicators of reputation and prestige. These are financial performance, attractiveness to attorneys, awards for the depth and breadth of their legal work, and positive media coverage.
The Social Impact report measures law firms’ social impact efforts across five pillars. The pillars include racial and ethnic diversity, gender equality, employee engagement, pro bono service, and responsible business practices.
Finally, the report looks at firms’ practice footprint. This measurement includes an analysis of the depth and breadth of their litigation practice. Law360 looked at 10 case types, including antitrust, consumer protection, contracts, copyright, employment, insurance, patent, product liability, securities, and torts.
Why am I thankful in 2022 for data? It’s because of the kind of information and use that can be made of data
Law360 also provides an overall ranking of the top 100 firms in the three areas above, along with a more granular analysis in each of the above three areas. And yes, the overall score and rankings of the firms are interesting and what everyone first looks to. But Bell believes that the more granular data in each of the more specific reports, that’s more helpful, useful, and valuable to firms.
I reported on last year’s Survey results previously.
So why am I thankful in 2022 for data? It’s because of the kind of information and use that can be made of data like this. Law firms can use information like this to compare themselves to others in various areas of interest. Data can show firms where they need to improve. It can show a firm the firms it really competes with in various areas. If a firm’s vision statement includes taking steps to improve diversity and equality, it can see if its actions have had measurable results. And if not, it can help determine what to do next.
If a firm is concerned about its financial statement, data can help it keep score with its competitors.
Better data leads to a better understanding of the situation and can point to best practices.
In-house counsel can use data like this to make hiring decisions. It can answer questions like what firms have a significant practice footprint in an area of interest. What firms are taking impactful steps toward improving diversity?
For law students and career placement officers at law schools, data like this can help match students with firms that have interests similar to that of the students. It helps firms select new associates with similar interests. The same is true of lawyers looking to change jobs. The net result: less attrition and career dissatisfaction all the way around.
It was not that long ago that lawyers made decisions that were often wild-ass guesses.
All of which made me think of how far we have come with data science in the law. Litigation analytics can now aid lawyers in developing strategies and managing clients’ expectations. Data helps in-house counsel hire the lawyer that has the best chance of getting the desired result. Data drives automated contract management platforms like that recently announced by Lexion, among others. Data drives TAR e-discovery tools, saving time and improving outcomes.
It was not that long ago that lawyers made decisions that were often wild-ass guesses. Or based on some senior lawyers” ” intuition,” intuition that was often just wrong. Think how much information we now have to make better decisions than we had just a generation ago.
Efficient access to data may be the most impactful development across legal in improving outcomes across the board. And from a professional standpoint, that’s why I am thankful for it all. As Richard Susskind put it in a recent webinar discussion I attended, what’s most important in legal is outcomes. (See my recent post) And data analytics provides the tool to get those better outcomes.