The legal system generates a huge and ever-increasing amount of data. In the UK there are in excess of 100,000 new court cases each year which increases the body of knowledge that a lawyer has to get to grips with to do their job. Judicial ruling, precedents and interpretations of legislation all create more data and within this within witness statements, court logs and judge’s summaries contain hidden insights that could help win legal arguments.
Innovation within regime
It is surprising that until recently there has been little innovation in the way that the legal profession uses Big Data. That is now all changing with the arrival of the modern IT stack and a new breed of innovative data savvy lawyers and IT professionals.
The first data tools for lawyers focused on billing, time management, marketing and customer relations functions. Now, data scientists and lawyers are teaming up developing tools for the profession to deliver automated research and case preparation which is the core of their job.
Currently, the world of legal data-driven research is ruled by three entities; LexisNexis, Practical Law Company and Westlaw. These companies hold databases containing huge amounts of case details and are often the default starting point for legal researchers. However, they mainly function as simple text based search engines and offer little in the way of advanced analytical tools. They have a habit of being hit and miss and demand high monthly fees for the privilege
Machine learning’s core technologies align well with the complex searches lawyers perform daily but can deliver far more accurate information and great insight by uncovering patterns hidden in multiple digitised documents. Many of the algorithms being developed are iterative, designed to learn continually and seek optimised outcomes for the researcher. These algorithms iterate in milliseconds, enabling lawyers to lock onto pin-point accurate research with optimised outcomes in minutes versus months.