Emerging Legal Tech Forum: Analytics – Moving Beyond the Average to Prediction & Prescription

Topics: Billing & Pricing, Canada, Corporate Legal, Data Analytics, Efficiency, Law Firm Profitability, Law Firms, Legal Innovation, Thomson Reuters

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TORONTO — Legal technology get-togethers —the recent ILTA conference and this week’s Emerging Legal Technology Forum — reinforced that there is no shortage of buzzwords around legal analytics. Words such as dashboards, reports, analytics, big data, legalfintech, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI)… the list goes on.

Without getting into the weeds around defining and articulating the various nuances around these concepts, it’s worth mentioning a common thread. At the very root of these concepts it is the desire for the legal industry to move beyond descriptive statistics that render law firms reactive and push towards proactive predictive analytics.

The current state of legal analytics is static and only operating at the very beginning of the analytics maturity model. Primarily drawing on past performance and stale metrics, current analytic models in the legal industry still require a large portion of human input (on the front end, with manual input of data, data integration and facilitation and then post facto interpretation to drive decisions). As you progress through the model, the analytics become far more sophisticated and begin to drive action and this week’s conversations made a splash into these areas. The declining use of human input (as illustrated below) during maturation does not remove the human from the equation. As noted by the keynote speaker at the Forum, human + machines > humans or machines.

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In today’s legal tech climate, the space beyond descriptive analytics is wide open and some of the most interesting conversations during these conferences revolved around it. There are various factors — many of which were recounted at the Forum on numerous occasions — that damper this innovation. It is the usual suspects referenced in the form of the firm’s culture and incentivization design as well as cloud aversion and data input adoption.

Putting that aside, one panel at the Forum, entitled “Legal Analytics: Innovation at the Crossroads of Technology, Data and Law”, presented various examples of use that combine smart technology with legal specificity to move legal analytics to the “why” and “what”, and thus getting the industry closer to analytics that drive action.

Such “use cases” brought up at the Forum include, enhancing pitches and efficiency with data on judges, jurisdictions and win rates. Other examples discussed predictive analytics that empower firms to collaborate, cross-sell and better leverage their workforce; and when paired with the ability to prescribe actions with given predictions, predictive analytics has the capacity to be a powerful tool within a law firm.

To continue to drive the industry towards sophisticated metrics, the legal industry needs to attract and encourage more data scientists and look to other industries that have welcomed the intersection of data and marketing, data and selling, data and client experience and so on.

Understanding that full acceptance and inclusion of such data analytics is a steep road to climb within law firms, showing the power of data beyond descriptive measures often can be enough to build momentum for further investment at the firm.

Read more coverage of the Thomson Reuters & LegalX Emerging Legal Technology Forum in Toronto