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Long reserved for big law firms with big budgets, litigation data analytics tools have become more accessible in recent years. These groundbreaking resources allow firms of any size to gain data-driven insights into factors that influence their litigation matters, like the venue in which the case was filed or the judge assigned to the case.
Here are four reasons why your firm should use analytics in its litigation preparation.
If litigators know how to do anything well, it’s looking to the past to predict the outcome of a future case. But before the advent of litigation analytics, lawyers only had one way to do it: by reading legal opinions in similar cases. Now with litigation analytics, litigators can see how additional data points (perhaps most notably, the venue and presiding judge) correlate with certain case results.
With data analysis tools, litigators can find patterns in previous matters, like how often summary judgment motions filed by the defendant succeed in the Northern District of California, or the average length of time it takes for a particular judge in the Eastern District of Michigan to rule on motions to dismiss. Such information can be invaluable in selecting a venue and mapping out case strategy.
The information on judges can go particularly deep. Litigation analytics can reveal how a specific judge typically handles expert challenges, or whether the judge tends to admit more testimony from the plaintiff’s or defendant’s experts—all of which can inform strategic decisions.
Insights from litigation analytics extend beyond the court and judge hearing the case, too. Some analytics tools offer data about opposing counsel, including which clients they’ve represented (at least those on public record) and other cases in which they have been involved. Juror analytics programs, meanwhile, serve up data about prospective and seated jurors, including their social media activity.
Scientists have yet to build a machine that can foresee the outcome of any piece of litigation with perfect accuracy. And trials, in particular, are notoriously unpredictable. Taken together, however, all of the available analytical information greatly enhances the ability of litigators to assess the likely outcome of a given case.
Firms can use litigation analytics to estimate the level of resources a matter will require. Being able to determine how long a case might take and the chances of success for certain pretrial motions helps litigators anticipate how much the matter will cost, and in turn, how to estimate billing or pricing for their services. Contingency fee lawyers might find litigation analytics particularly useful in evaluating cases to determine the time it would take to resolve a matter at trial or settlement, and how much money is potentially at stake.
Litigation analytics help lawyers manage their clients’ expectations by giving them the ability to provide clients information about the likely cost, duration and outcome of their case based on empirical data. The use of analytics enables greater transparency, and sharing pertinent data helps clients understand their litigation strategy at every stage.
Analytics can also provide an edge in business development efforts. A firm can identify key data points that demonstrate its strategic advantage over competitors (for example, its track record against an opposing party or counsel, or experience in front of a specific judge) and present that information to prospective clients. Firms that represent plaintiffs can also use analytics to determine whether it’s worthwhile to take particular cases or choose which cases to prioritize over others.
Once the domain of large law firms, data-driven insights for case strategy have become increasingly important to midsize and smaller firms. Analytics platforms can help lawyers develop successful litigation strategies and free up time and energy to provide clients the high-level guidance and personal client service that these tools can’t replace.
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