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Comment: Data Analytics in Law is Loom-ing

Added on the 6th Apr 2017 at 5:39 am
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I often hear litigators claim that legal innovation holds nothing for them; that good litigators are simply those who outwork the other party. But what if they could now trade working harder for working smarter? In the fast and furious world of legal technology, another Canadian success story is emerging: Toronto-based, Loom Analytics is now playing a lead role in the application of data analytics to legal services.

To date, the direction of travel for law firm data analytics has mostly focussed on mining the volumes of data held by these firms; thereby allowing firms to better understand their operations and those of their clients. Few however, have seen the wisdom of such analytics. In fact the lack of uptake suggests that firms see mining their own data as dull and unexciting.

The application of analytics to publically available data however, is what the legal industry needs to wholly embrace what other industries around the globe have been doing for years. In fairness, Lex Machina has been doing this for years in the United States, but only in very discrete niches of law: patents, trademarks, copyright, anti-trust and securities.

Loom Analytics – which won the People’s Choice Award at the Canadian Bar Association’s legal technology competition, “The Pitch” last August – has taken this wider approach and is applying its expertise to all Canadian case law. Mona Datt, Loom Analytics impressive and passionate President, co-founded Loom in 2015 and, like many legal tech founders, is an engineer – not a lawyer. From her experience in other industries she understood the power of data and how it might transform legal services. By applying data analytics to case law, Loom is able to help formulate litigation strategy by setting out how certain judges rule on certain cases, or by finding what arguments were significant in creating that win. And while Loom will also allow firms to see which lawyers win or lose in front of which judges, Datt views that as a side effect of her program. She envisions law firms using the product to gain business intelligence on competitors, make human resources decisions, as well as helping lawyers make better predictions of litigation success.

Loom is now “in production” with Bennett Jones across Canada, and has also signed on for a pilot with the Canadian offices of Gowling WLG. As it goes with most legal technology, once one or two large law firms sign on, orders from law firms will soon materialize. No firm wants to be first, but also no one wants to be last.

In the United States, Premonition is also making a very strong case for case law data analytics particularly for lawyer performance ranking; giving a client access to lawyer win rates, or the win rates of expert witnesses, along with the track record of judges. Premonition boasts the largest database of cases in the world covering United States Federal System, United States Circuit Courts, UK High Courts, The Virgin Islands, Ireland, Australia and The Netherlands.

The final word on how data will shape the practice of law is far from being written but what is clear is that the days of “gut-feel” and “in my experience” are definitely numbered. 

Mitchell Kowalski is the Gowling WLG Visiting Professor in Legal Innovation at the University of Calgary Law School, the Legal Innovation Columnist The National Post, and the Principal Consultant at Cross Pollen Advisory where he advises in-house legal departments and law firms on the redesign of legal service delivery. He is also the author of the critically-acclaimed book, Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century. His new book, The Great Legal Reformation: Notes from the Field will be published in Summer, 2017.  Follow him on Twitter @mekowalski or visit his website www.kowalski.ca

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