Few industries produce more data than the legal industry, and the amount of data produced every year is constantly increasing.
While technology adoption rates have been slower in the legal field than in some other industries, as more and more millennials enter the legal profession, they bring their technological savviness with them, which is slowly changing the entire landscape. As CEO of Transcription Outsourcing, LLC, a company that provides law enforcement, legal, academic, financial and general transcription services, I have seen that transformation firsthand. The information that can now be accessed is helping the legal field in ways that were simply not possible before.
Until just a few years ago, a large number of legal firms used to store their case files in hard copies. They reluctantly digitalized when they realized the space constraints and lack of security hard copies require. Most legal firms have moved their case files to the cloud, which makes searching and storing a hassle-free task. Instant access to large amounts of data has resulted in greater levels of collaborations within law enforcement agencies and shortened trial lengths.
Digitalizing case files enables faster analysis, which streamlines decisions. Algorithms are now starting to come into play within the legal industry at an amazing rate. Law firms can utilize algorithms to make predictions on outcomes based on data from past cases. It used to take firms several days to determine whether a case was worth taking. Use of an algorithm has shortened this process down to just 20 minutes.
Big data has also provided new insights and transparency for those seeking legal services. A new smartphone app, RateDriver, helps its users find out the fees which they should expect to pay their legal counsel for any specific case. This app contains cost estimates for legal services within all 50 states in the U.S. It also enables people to get cost estimates before contacting attorneys, so they know what to expect from a financial perspective.
Startups can target their pay-per-click campaigns down to, for example, 35-to-55-year-old male dentists in a specific zip code with the help of big data. If you know your audience, you can pinpoint your marketing with unbelievable accuracy, which means you can save money and spend it more wisely than in the past when you would just buy magazine ads or radio spots on a certain station you were told male dentists listened to.
Big data is also helpful for legal firms’ HR departments during recruitment. It can help them find the most suitable candidate for the job.
Managing the large amounts of data has proven a challenge, especially since in legal, it must be entered manually. It usually starts with a paralegal or court reporter, and now it’s becoming more and more legal transcriptionists. Legal transcriptionists are usually people like us who work remotely and with another company that specializes in legal transcription so that courthouses and law firms don’t have to have a paralegal (not trained for transcription) or a court reporter do it.
Small law firms can now compete with the international juggernauts with a few clicks of a mouse. Imagine not needing dozens of paralegals and interns to dig through files and files just to get insurance rates on men over age 50 in the state of Florida because you have all that data at your fingertips. We as small business owners can and do have access to the same data our bigger colleagues have. You can take advantage of it or plow through the mud at a snail’s pace. We can target law firms in the state of Texas who do a certain number of depositions per year and send them our company information. Why would we blanket all of Texas’s law firms with our company information, when we know which firms do what we do, down to the exact number? It only makes sense to use the available data, and a lot of it is free.
Big data has shown its potential value in the legal system with a promise of reducing the time lawyers need to complete research and casework, which should eventually lower costs and increase access to the justice system for all.