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American Michael Phelps finished in a three-way tie for the silver medal in the 100m butterfly, his last individual race of the Rio Olympic Games.

Phelps and two other swimmers were beat to the wall by Joseph Schooling of Singapore, who set a new Olympic record with a time of 50.39. The three silver medalists stopped the clock at 51.14.

This one event dramatically illustrates that the margin of victory is often less than a split second — literally.

No Silver Medals in the Courtroom

In the legal industry there is no second place. You win or you lose. The difference between the two can be as simple as who has the best information and how quickly can it be accessed.

There’s always a lot riding on your case. As in the Olympics, the difference between victory and defeat in the courtroom is often determined by a critical split-second decision by you or your competition. No trial lawyer wants to be missing the critical tools that could be the difference between victory and defeat.

Increase the Odds of a Winning-Verdict in Your Favor

More and more, Big Data is that critical tool providing successful lawyers the winning edge. Big Data helps trial lawyers make the correct decision in a timely manner in order to get proper a settlement and/or the right (i.e. winning) case outcome.

The use of Big Data increases the variance in verdict decisions in your favor. Research shows that in both mock jury studies and in actual trial settings, using data and systematic jury selection can increase your odds for victory from 5 to 15%. (Van Wallendael & Cutler, 2004)

The potential impact of Big Data on the process of jury selection is huge. There are already applications (such as Jury Analyst) that help lawyers track information about prospective jurors – adding to the ability to pull information about prospective jurors from their publicly-available data in real time instead of relying solely on self-reported information.

Trial lawyers can now know a lot more about those twelve strangers sitting in the box. Political candidates have successfully used Big Data and applied predictive analytics to target their messages, perhaps it’s time for attorneys to use these tools to systematically shape their voir dire strategy and mold sound arguments as well.

Big data is already influencing the kinds of arguments made in class actions and other lawsuits that typically invoke statistical sampling. This technique has historically been used to extrapolate about both cause and effect, making it possible to review and evaluate the entire data set using a small representative sample.

Access Critical Information in a Split Second

Big Data and predictive analytic analysis allows trial lawyers to process huge amounts (even all) of their data instantaneously. Critical information is organized, evaluated and recalled in a split second. Accessing it could potentially be done in the courtroom while your trial is in progress.

Think of the edge that gives you over the competition as they fumble through their notes trying to find the exact same information.

Big Data Analytics and the Law Profession

Where do law firms fall when it comes to harnessing the insights provided by Big Data and predictive analytics? The use of Big Data analytics by legal firms is still in its embryonic stage. The legal field has been slow to see and adapt to the benefits. But that’s beginning to change.

Soon, law firms will have no choice but to adapt as rivals gain a competitive edge with Big Data and predictive analytics.

The industry is beginning to see the integration of data applied to both the most complex and the most routine functions of the law sector. Legal jobs and tasks once thought to be impervious to new technologies are being assimilated by the technology.

The first area of digitalization in the legal industry was development of software to handle billing, timekeeping, docketing, marketing and customer relations functions; followed by digitization of case law, which greatly streamlined and enhanced conducting research; and finally the marriage of Big Data and predictive analytics.

The Lawyers Helping Lawyers

Lawyers traditionally learn and form strategies in any given case through sharing experiences with fellow attorneys and benefiting from the insights of colleagues. Big Data analytics allow lawyers to gather this same information and on a much larger scale – helping attorneys to:

  • Craft arguments using a judge’s favorite case
  • Form strategies in terms of which motions a judge is likely to grant
  • View the judge’s history to identify the legal precedents a particular judge finds persuasive
  • Develop a sound voir dire strategy

A Game Changer

As a result, jobs and tasks once thought to be impervious to new technologies are being assimilated by Big Data analytics – changing how lawyers find clients, conduct legal research and discovery, draft contracts and court papers, manage billing, predict the outcome of a case, select juries, and more.

Most of sectors of law now use some form of data analytics, albeit in limited ways. Attorneys are increasingly recognizing technology’s potential to improve and enhance law skills.

Big Data Analytics in the Courtroom

Potential impact on the process of jury selection is tremendous:

  • Allowing the ability to pull information about prospective jurors from their publicly-available data in real time.
  • Influencing arguments made in lawsuits that typically invoke statistical sampling – historically used to extrapolate both cause and effect.
  • Making it possible to review the entire data set and not just a sample.
  • Creating more opportunities for lawyers to tell a much more targeted story than ever before.
  • Driving data and capturing insights and data from a prospect, analyzing and scoring the data and behavior, and then taking the top trigger points into an action-based analysis.

What else can this do for trial lawyers? It can:

  • Increase Settlement Values
  • Win More Cases
  • Obtain More Accurate Trial Evaluations
  • Be Used as Check & Balances In the Decline of Civil Trials
  • Analyze a Jury Questionnaire
  • Insure Settlement Money Is Not Left On the Table

Big Data Analytics and the Future

A study by the Altman Weil Group in 2015 revealed that 47% of lawyers interviewed felt it would be possible within 10 to 15 years to replace their “paralegal” employees by solutions of artificial intelligence. Additionally, 35% think that junior lawyer positions could be fully eliminated over the same period.

Meaning lawyers are keenly aware of the automation processes taking over critical parts of their core business.

Law professionals, academics, law students, and entrepreneurs need to adapt their methods to the new reality as soon as possible. The world is entering an era where even the most ancient trades are subject to the vagaries of technology.

Attorneys are already looking at the big picture and envisioning how big data analysis can affect the practice of law in the future and considering all approaches where technology contribute to improving legal work. There is endless room for creativity.