Legal data is the collection of data and metadata about legal matters. This includes information on cases, judges, jurisdictions, and industries.
This data is publicly available, though it is also often difficult to access, with most legal data published in law books. However, some jurisdictions have begun to publish legal cases digitally. Additionally, volunteers have digitized historical legal data for public access—see, for example, the Caselaw Access Project.
Additional legal data may include interviews with lawyers and judges.
Common attributes of legal data range from the case name, docket number, court and decision date, decision, and jurisdiction. However, the core data is the actual text of the cases themselves.
Furthermore, there is obvious overlap with industry-specific data. For example, a firm specializing in malpractice suits needs access to healthcare and EMS/EHS data while a firm representing a mining company needs access to mining, minerals, and environmental data.
Generally, it is lawyers, paralegals, clerks, and other professionals who use this data as references. The development of translation, image search, speech-to-text, and other features assist them in this.
However, emerging artificial intelligence programs enable legal professionals to use data in other ways. For example, AI programs can analyze judges’ decisions and predict their rulings, suggesting approaches arguments that lawyers may find successful.
These AI programs can also enable law firms to conduct competitor and market analysis by comparing their successes against others in the same field or area.
There is little quality control to do for legal data; human beings have reviewed the cases countless times before publication. It is generally only in the digitization or database creation process that mistakes appear.
For public, open-source databases, mistakes are easily remedied due in part to the volume of database users worldwide. You should, however, check other databases to make sure they’ve been cleansed properly. Consider the data vendor’s reputation and focus on the completeness, consistence, and relevancy of the data more than update frequency as cases take years to reach any conclusion.
“On the corporate legal team side, we’ve seen groups clean and aggregate data from multiple systems to speed reporting. We’ve seen leaders set up data models and reports that are tailored to specific business units and executive stakeholders for added awareness and transparency. We’ve seen groups use analytics to “sort” or “triage” matters by risk to enhance the sourcing of work. We are seeing some interesting work around reserve setting and using data to more accurately drive those reserves. We’ve seen some pioneers create models to forecast and predict spend and outcome on matters.”
“Increasingly, the industry is experiencing advanced use cases surrounding and intertwined with this newfound data. Whether it pertains to outside counsel rationalization studies, predictive analytics for case resolutions or compliance, quantitative analysis has moved to the forefront of legal leadership.”
“From science fiction to computer science fact, artificial intelligence has come a long way, recently culminating with the unveiling with the third generation of the Generative Pretraining Transformer (GPT-3). Released by the famously connected OpenAI Foundation (think Elon Musk, Sam Altman, Mark Benioff and Peter Thiel), GPT-3 might be a game changer in legal and other knowledge-focused organizations.”
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