From Gut Instincts to Hard Data: Growing Your Law Firm with Legal Analytics

By Nicole Clark.

“Three hours later, they’ll be getting full pitches,” explains Christian Mammen, a partner at Hogan Lovells in San Francisco. Mammen is referring to a practice many commercial litigators use to acquire new business opportunities. With the help of platforms like PACER and Trellis, litigators register for alerts that notify them whenever a new case has been filed against a company in their field of expertise.

As soon as an alert rings, a deluge of calls floods into the in-house legal team of the affected company within minutes. These calls contain pitches, snippets of advice on venue and strategy as well as commitments to defend the company. These pitches are backed by hard-data, serving as a reminder that legal analytics helps litigators win clients and cases.

Corporate Legal Departments

“In no field is resistance to evidence-based thinking more ferocious than in the United States legal practice,” exclaims James Greiner, Director of the Access to Justice Lab at Harvard Law School. Greiner is referring to a legal landscape wherein ‘gut instinct’ is a valued asset, driving the decision-making practices from the beginning of a case to its conclusion.

Yet, in today’s legal world, ‘intuition’ and ‘experience’ are no longer the watchwords of the legal profession. According to the Coalition of Technology Resources for Lawyers Survey, most corporate legal departments rely on legal analytics to help them evaluate and select law firms.

They do this with the help of products like LegalVIEW Predictive Insights, a software developed by ELM Solutions. The program deploys predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to rank outside law firms. By comparing billing rates and performance histories, corporate legal departments can approach prospective law firms with information about the average budget for a particular type of matter as well as statistics showing how well a firm meets its budgets and how long it takes to resolve cases.

Courting a Client with Numbers

What does it mean to say that your law firm is the best law firm? How can you convince a potential client that you have the experience, the expertise, and the skills needed to successfully handle their legal matters in a cost-effective manner?

Law firms across the country are beginning to use hard-data to court new clients by quantifying their relevant experience. They decorate their pitch decks with charts and graphs from Lex Machina, easy-to-grasp visualizations that demonstrate how they compare with their competitors. In fact, a recent survey by Lexis-ALM revealed that 100 percent of its respondents found legal analytics to be the most valuable tool they had available to demonstrate their competitive advantage to prospective clients.

How often do you settle right away? How often do you go to trial unnecessarily? Law firms can now provide new clients with quantitative answers to these questions, answers that can be made comparable to their competitors.

Keeping Your Clients Around

There is a general rule of thumb: twenty percent of your clients will produce eighty percent of your revenue. And so, while it is important to think about how legal analytics can help you grow your practice, it is equally important to consider how these tools can help you retain the clients you already have.

Descriptive analytics has helped attorneys identify emerging legal trends, keeping them abreast of the latest judicial rulings and analyses on pivotal topics.

Consider Trellis Research, an AI-powered multi-state trial court legal research and analytics platform. A simple search can uncover dockets, documents, and rulings on emerging topics, such as the unprecedented litigation surrounding COVID-19. With this information, litigators can stay proactive. They can anticipate problems that have not yet arised, keeping their clients in the loop about unfolding legal matters and the plans they have developed to protect their client’s particular interests.

Minimizing the Hurdles

The benefits of legal analytics for legal research and case development are already well-known. Law firms are now entering a new phase, one in which they are experimenting with innovative ways to apply the insights gathered from legal analytics platforms. One such application is business development. This is an aspect of the law that often sits outside the realm of expertise for most litigators, which many cite as a seemingly insurmountable hurdle to their success. Business development, however, does not need to be a hurdle anymore. With legal analytics technologies, the same information gathered through everyday legal research can also be used to win new clients and retain old ones.

About the Author

Nicole Clark is CEO and co-founder of Trellis Research Furthermore she is a business litigation and labor and employment attorney

Trellis is an AI-powered legal research and analytics platform that gives state court litigators a competitive advantage by making trial court rulings searchable, and providing insights into the patterns and tendencies of your opposing counsel, and your state court judges.

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