Information technologies and the data they create are changing the world rapidly in a multitude of ways. The legal profession, one of the most traditional and adverse to change, is beginning to adapt. A new breed of data savvy lawyers are entering legal circles everywhere and bringing with them an inertia from new technologies.
Firstly, the legal profession stands to gain from those data driven insights that are common across organizations, like more accurately targeted marketing, more informed case selection, more efficient internal procedures, and pricing models that minimize both losses of producer surplus, and dead-weight losses. But that is only the beginning.
Vast stores of hard copy legal archives are already being digitization and centralized. Harvard Law School's (HSL) 'free the law' project is a primary example. It promises to make publicly available the 'official print versions of all historical U.S. court decisions,' says HLS and Library Journal.
The digitization impact promises supply-side efficiencies that will bring down the cost of legal service. Moreover, digitization, at both the public and in-house level, has the potential, at least in terms of access to knowledge caches, to level the playing field. Fewer resources will be necessary to glean insights from the reams of physically archived print data.
Big data analytics are also changing the inter-industry dynamics of proprietary digital archives. A field that his been dominated by two main players, LexisNexis and Westlaw, is now being challenged by new comers, like Ravel Law, the big data company partnered with Harvard on the "Free the Law" project. Again, increased competition has the potential to bring down legal research costs. Lower legal research costs will enable firms to not only realize more profits, but also expand their case selection to included cases with higher anticipated variable costs.
Finally, law is an expert dependent field; both testifying and non-testifying experts are a critical input to legal proceedings on both sides. The same analytical value that can be applied to create efficiencies for organizations across sectors, can be accessed by legal organizations to better represent their client's interests. Legal organizations can gain from the data revolution by outsourcing big data analytics to analytical experts in the field where their disputes lie. The benefits from big data analytics are not likely to be underestimated in the legal field, especially in cases where data analytics can impact legal outcomes. And again, the market for stand-alone data-focused businesses can be a boon to organizations big and small.