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October 17, 2022

Legal Analytics: Benefits and Limitations

I. Introduction

In the modern world, the wheels of technology and innovation are spinning faster with each day that passes, and the wind of discovery is reaching almost all paths of sectors of life, and the legal sector is here no exception.

One of ways the legal sector is changing lies within the introduction of technology to it, which advanced the way the legal sector works and allowed the various professions in the legal sector to work in new ways, and one of those new ways to conduct business is the concept of “Legal Analytics”. Legal Analytics can be defined as “The application of technology in collecting, studying, structuring and analyzing raw data extracted from legal documents and resources.”

By looking at this definition we can understand the main concept, which in simple terms can be described as learning from the past, because the Legal Analytics can extract raw data from past cases and legal precedents and analyze the data in order to help the legal experts with the decision-making process by analyzing past events and outcomes and try shine a light on what the next move should be. It can also predict future events like the decisions that might be taken by specific judge in a specific case due to the history of the judge and the legal precedents in similar cases. Legal Analytics can also be used to estimate the time needed for a judge to reach a decision based on legal precedents with the same judge or with a similar lawsuit.

II. Benefits

The benefits of such technology are many, and one of these benefits are in the ability for Legal Analytics to help lawyers win cases by guiding them through the different strategies that can be chosen when the case starts or during the trial, and the strategies can differ depending on the particular courts, judges or the applicable laws surrounding the case, and the Analytics can use the data from previous cases to help the lawyer understand the judge or the court they have to deal with throughout the trial. And another benefit of Legal Analytics is to help lawyers beat the competition, because when lawyers correctly analyze raw data, they can gain a leverage on other lawyers with the help of this analyzed data because the lawyer doesn’t have to resort to trial-and-error to figure out what to do with the case, instead they can just study the results given by the Legal Analytics and understand what are the needed correct steps to win the case. And the aforementioned two benefits are the base that helps build another two major benefits, which are correct pricing and time saving that can be achieved by Legal Analytics because lawyers can now correctly evaluate the effort and time that will go in a specific case, so they can choose a suitable price that wouldn’t make their efforts underpriced or overpriced, in addition to that they can also learn the expected time the case will take -based on data from previous cases- which would help them in planning out their working patterns and schedules to minimize mistakes that could occur if the lawyer didn’t plan their timing right for the case they’re working on.

III. Limitations

After understanding the concept of Legal Analytics, one must try and look into the effects of applying such technology on the entire legal professions that will use this new technology. The use of Legal Analytics is not widespread between lawyer, judges or legal researchers, so we can try and predict how it will affect them, for example we could argue that using Legal Analytics as lawyer is beneficial, but how much should they use it? If lawyers suddenly relied entirely on Legal Analytics, we might be seeing a new generation of lawyers who don’t like spending more time into reading and studying past cases and reading legal articles and studying laws, now this might sound like a better time management, but we should not forget that lawyers must keep reading and researching because a machine might not be fully aware of the legal data it is processing and the context. It might ignore some information that might seem irrelevant, while if a human lawyer read and processed the data, they might come up with new ideas out of the box based on past personal experience or on stories they heard or even based on psychological factors, and the same goes for a judge who starts to rely too much on processed data using Legal Analytics, they might lose they sharpness as judge and stop researching too much and stop reading.

To briefly summarize, I believe that Legal Analytics is one of the most exciting LegalTech areas, and it would certainly bring more progress to the various legal professions, but one must be careful to not over-rely on a technology that may replace free thinking and thinking out of the box, but of course the effects of using Legal Analytics are only mere spiculations because we still don’t have a full-scale implementation of this technology, so until then we should just focus on improving LegalTech and working for a better future for the legal sector.

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About Sohaib Sakran
Sohaib is a trainee lawyer from Palestine and holder of a masters degree in LegalTech. He's very interested in the way technology and law will interact and reshape each other in the upcoming years. He is currently pursuing his second master degree in Law & Economics.

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