Knowledge Management & Libraries – Data shepherds of the modern law firm

Over the past two years working with Loom, I’ve had the good fortune of meeting with people from different segments of the legal profession: library, knowledge management, law students, associates, and partners. While associates and partners consume the information from legal systems, and usually generate the enormous amounts of dark data in organizations, the library and knowledge management professionals are usually tasked with knowledge management, a role that gives them visibility into all of an organization’s data. They are also intimately familiar with questions that need to be answered on a regular basis for lawyers while working on matters, as they are the ones tasked with doing the research. They train incoming students and associates on the tools of the trade. From where I’m sitting, I see them as the data shepherds of the large full service firms and boutiques. And they are best suited to show the legal industry how to shed light on all this legal dark data.

When I meet with legal librarians and knowledge managers about the benefits about using analytics tools such as Loom’s Court Analytics in their organizations, and discuss use cases, they are quick to recognize the benefits of analyzing and collating large amounts of data to answer questions. They play a big part in our product development by driving ongoing feature development on the platform. Faceted search, and soon to be available open text and one box search, have resulted from the generous feedback from librarians and knowledge managers at our client firms. They have helped us understand how we might be able to position Court Analytics as an analytics tool for legal practitioners with our assisted search reports. They continue to provide us with interesting reports and use cases for the data in our platform.

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Two of our most popular reports have been Judge Analytics and Party Analytics. While all early litigation prep is done without knowing the judge, once a judge is assigned to the motion, application or trial, the question that everyone involved has is, how has this judge ruled in the past? In the past, researchers would sift through some recent case law and lawyers would ask around for this information. This would result in availability bias in the information generated, and it would be at the expense of time and resources that would have to be written off. With Judge Analytics, this question can be answered within seconds, by selecting the name of the judge from a dropdown filter. The results include decision response times, win/loss percentages in both graphical and tabular format, and lists of precedent grouped by each outcome. Adding in the hearing filter will tell you how they would rule in a specific type of motion. And adding on a practice area and facts filter will focus your results further.

Analytics tools such as Court Analytics have the ability to transform the services provided by libraries to include practice area trends as well as litigation and business intelligence and in turn drive data driven decision-making in law. With Structura, the private data complement to Court Analytics, libraries and KM departments across the world can bring together historical matter data to build practice area specific tools for knowledge management and business intelligence. Given their expertise in information management, access to all the valuable information created in law firms and legal departments, and their visibility into requests for information, they will play a pivotal role in designing and powering data driven tools. And this will help drive change in a profession that is in the middle of a huge shift from largely bespoke work to streamlined business processes like the rest of the business world.

Note: An abridged version of this post first appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of the TALL Quarterly newsletter.

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