Opinions on using intelligent search and analytics tools in the legal industry vary. It seems that concerns about artificial intelligence (AI) taking over legal jobs (certainly not unique to the legal industry) clash with the clear business interest that analytics can help more accurately visualize and understand legal data. To successfully turn legal data into business insights, one needs to carefully combine legal expertise and technology in the context of a specific problem or project. Humanizing legal technology, i.e., getting the mixture right for our clients is at the core of what we do at InvestCEE LegalTech Consultancy. We’ve put together this 7-step practical roadmap to guide you in legal big data analytics.
Step 1: Define your Legal Big Data
Despite all efforts to keep legal files organized through folders, sub-folders, document versions and edit histories, searching and managing legal databases can easily turn into a daily challenge. Locating relevant documents, spotting a previously well-drafted clause for a new workflow or grasping key information from large amounts of legal documents can be daunting. In this respect, corporate legal departments and law firms face similar challenges. Essentially, any extensive databases relevant from a legal perspective (e.g., contract repositories), can be a good basis for a legal big data analytics project.
Locate your own goldmine: consider where in your organization sits legal big data unexploited that could instead be analyzed computationally for key insights.
Step 2: Find your Pilot Project
Once you have realized that large amounts of legal data sit unexploited in your organization, there’s a good chance that tech-assisted analytics are more feasible than human-only traditional approach. Whether responding to a regulator’s data request, carrying out an M&A due diligence, performing an internal investigation or providing litigation services, accurately locating legal data highly improves work quality. Spotting key information in the traditional manner (i.e., by manual work) is not only repetitive, tedious and time-consuming, but typically also comes with the inherent risk that some data might be overlooked. Analytics enable lawyers to better focus on those aspects of legal review that require real expertise and judgment.
Focus on impact: where will increased accuracy of legal information make the most impact for your client (internal or external)?
Step 3: Ask a Specific Question & Supervise Results
This step may be the most comforting for lawyers, given that asking relevant questions and defining the real purpose of a project requires purely human skills. Depending on the context of the project, questions may focus on legal metrics (e.g., contract expiration, performance deadlines, amount of fees, etc.) or more complex correlations within a dataset (e.g., causal relationships, impact of certain factors, etc.). The more you can articulate your question, the better your chances to use technology in your favor. Let human intelligence shine through, keep control over the results and add real value to a project. Clearly, analytics is there to augment, but not replace the work of a lawyer.
Keep your project focused: what key insights are you looking for?
Step 4: Define Success
When testing new technology (as is often the case with using analytics for legal big data review), make sure you define what success looks like in the context of your project. To manage expectations well, tailor success to the given project and remain realistic about the outcome. In legal context, success may mean larger datasets reviewed in shorter time frames, lower overall costs spent on review, increased accuracy of findings, more transparency in work processes, higher customer satisfaction, better team cohesion, you name it. Also, be fair: technology vendors cannot be held liable for your impossible expectations.
Keep your project on track: what are you aiming to achieve with technology?
Step 5: Pick a Diverse Internal Team
Despite focusing on legal workflows, the successful implementation of new technology requires a dedicated internal team with varied skillsets. Depending on your organization, this may mean various levels of expertise (junior through senior) and/or different departments (legal, IT, marketing, client management, HR, etc.). Make it clear to your team, that this is not a case of man versus machine. Ideally, your pilot project will reveal the enhanced quality of legal work resulting from a combination of human and technological abilities. Internal champions are key for long-term success: they will coordinate internally and ease the way for change.
Value your people: how would you harness technology without their expertise?
Step 6: Involve your Client
The ultimate aim for using technology in legal big data projects is making legal data more accessible to clients. Whether in a corporate setting (where legal functions serve other departments and overall business goals) or in a law firm environment (benefitting external clients), it is essential to get feedback on how technology enhances the quality of work and improves collaboration efforts between client and lawyer.
Ask for client feedback: track how better insight into legal data leads to better business decisions!
Step 7: Celebrate Success & Expand Use Cases
Celebrate if you reached or perhaps over-delivered on your success metrics (Step 4 above). Keep your eyes open to see how technology raises professional standards and increases demand for value- added legal services. Leverage the power of internal positive communication and allow exchange for creative ideas about other use cases for analytics in the legal field.
Leverage the power of positive communication to help people across the change process.
Orsolya Szabó is CEO and co-founder of InvestCEE LegalTech Consultancy, a Budapest (Hungary) based management advisory firm focusing on the strategic implementation of legal technology solutions in Central Eastern Europe. InvestCEE is building a LegalTech Marketplace and helps companies and law firms redesign legal operations and better access their legal big data. Previously, Orsolya was an M&A transaction lawyer and spent 11+ years in BigLaw offices advising on cross-border deals. Follow her on Twitter @orsi_investcee and LinkedIn.