Legal Data is King
We live in exciting times. A massive amount of data is constantly being created, collected, and stored. Data is more available than ever before, thanks to decreasing data storage costs and increasing processor speeds.
But data is like gold – a worthless commodity on its own, yet extremely valuable under certain conditions and given the right treatment.
Harnessing the power of data by mining and analyzing it can be utterly transformative for businesses and even entire sectors. Let’s take the field of health and life sciences, for example. Data has enabled more accurate care and treatment, which became crucial during the global pandemic, with countries helping one another by sharing data and creating one centralized source of truth for all.
But the data revolution has left behind a pivotal institution: the justice system. Lawyers and legal professionals have not yet effectively harnessed the power of data to truly transform the legal world. The pandemic did wonders to rapidly digitize the legal field, with more law firms embracing technology than ever before. But we have only just begun to understand the ways in which legal data can be leveraged to bring real justice to millions of people.
What is Legal Data and How Can We Use It?
Traditionally, legal data has been understood as information about the law and legal practices, referring to anything and everything from court records to case outcomes, judge’s behavior, attorney’s information, litigation history, and expert witness testimonies. What used to be stored in file cabinets and law libraries is now migrating to the digital sphere.
But legal data also includes violation data. While we once talked about wrongdoers leaving “paper trails,” we now understand that every single legal violation leaves a data trail – a digital footprint or indicator that a harmful event has occurred. The challenge lies in finding those data points and putting them together to form a coherent story. Once we can do that, the possibilities are endless. We can build a legal case, find precedent with the click of a button, predict outcomes, and even determine a cases’s value.
How We Can Harness Legal Data to Promote Justice
Today, lawyers are tasked with searching through mounds of data to find the smoking gun; the proverbial needle-in-a-haystack. But what if we thought about this endeavour more like putting together pieces of a puzzle to form a picture? To tell a story?
How can we do that? By finding every case of injustice out there and getting it to court. But is this really possible? I believe the answer is yes – and data is key. The legal industry comprises the mechanisms and processes to deal with many issues, and ultimately promote justice. The courts and law firms and even the police can all be considered pillars of the legal industry. Each of them has a specific function in the justice ecosystem, and even in connected states and citizens via legal processes.
Technology (and particularly data) plays a crucial role in this ecosystem. Data that gets created (records and details) provides a comprehensive picture and can generate specific insights, if harnessed effectively. But how is data connected? One way is by creating a joint database of all legal precedents. The sheer amount of legal data out there is massive, with new data created continuously during legal proceedings.
There is a well-known principle in engineering, and that is: that someone smarter solved this issue before you. This principle has even greater potency in litigation, where references and precedent are a requirement. Attorneys are burdened with the task of proving that any information is reliable and must look to supplement the information with data retrieved from technological advancements. Imagine, for example, that you could have all the data of similar cases you need to reference with the click of a button. But what is the definition of all the information you need? Many litigators will investigate similar cases and create their preferred references for a lawsuit. Imagine an AI tool that can create these similarities for you: connected data points with insights can create these references with fantastic accuracy.
What was once described to be a form of art based on prior experience can be formulated with the help of modern technology. Connecting data points from the legal world (like previous cases) and deriving conclusions (like the value of a case based on previous cases) in various aspects of the litigation world is the challenge we face with a strong conviction that the way we pave will transform the legal world.