The Future of Data Science in the Legal Industry

new technologies Mar 23, 2023

The legal industry is notorious for being traditional and slow to adopt new changes. This can cause it to lag behind other industries, especially in terms of efficiency. 

Fortunately, legal professionals are now taking steps to adopt and maximize data and digital tools. A previous look at emerging technologies for legal professionals, for example, highlights the Metaverse and its potential as an immersive and accessible platform. With further development, the Metaverse could be used as a medium to conference with clients and provide a range of public and legal services like consultancy and contract creation, increasing speed and efficiency overall. 

It's clear that the legal industry must embrace digital transformation and data in order to streamline its processes and deliver quality services. In an industry that is driven by data — from legal documents to court evidence — data science, in particular, is the key to accessing these vast amounts of information and harnessing their value efficiently. Here's a closer look at which aspects of the legal industry could be transformed by maximizing data science. 

Data privacy and security  

Similar to other sectors like healthcare, the legal field deals with highly sensitive client and corporate information. Aside from the volume of data, the heightened risk of cyber attacks in legal services can be linked to outdated technologies and the lack of sophisticated security measures. This has led to a huge demand for cybersecurity specialists who understand offensive and defensive strategies as well as a good knowledge of how data can be used and stolen by attackers. Fortunately, higher education institutes are training the next generation of cybersecurity graduates to be adept in collecting data, conducting forensics, and remediating flaws. 

It is in this context that the American Bar Association highlights cybersecurity as a primary concern of law firms. Cybersecurity prevents firms from being easy targets of cybercriminals and also minimizes the financial losses resulting from data breaches, which can cost up to $4.24 million on average, based on a report by IBM. 

Law firms can do more than just install spam filters and software firewalls. Rather than merely responding to cyber crimes as they come, firms must understand that establishing cybersecurity teams is crucial. Professionals with thorough and up-to-date training in cybersecurity are essential in proactively identifying vulnerabilities through defensive hardware and software systems. As cyber threats continue to evolve in maturity and complexity, these cybersecurity professionals can also deploy data analytics to analyze patterns of previous attacks and predict potential anomalies across multiple data networks. 

Legal research and analysis 

Since legal research can be a laborious process, utilizing big data can save lawyers the time and effort it takes to organize and access a massive store of cases, claims, regulations, and other relevant documents. Not only does big data digitize the process, but it can also expand the scope beyond internal firm data through a form of digital investigation called e-discovery. When paired with machine learning tools, data science can even help lawyers make comparisons and extract trends or patterns between thousands of cases without having to sift through each of them. 

Predictive outcomes for costs and cases 

With access to a trove of past cases and rulings, data science also equips lawyers with more readily accessible information. A branch of data science called predictive analytics can be used to boost productivity and efficiency in reviewing precedent-setting cases and identifying which litigation strategies are the most successful during a trial. 

Hence, lawyers can partner with data scientists who can operate litigation analytics software and make accurate predictions for trial outcomes. This type of software collects data points on judges, law firms, lawyers, and litigants to make legal teams’ strategies more informed and evidence-based, as opposed to simply relying on intuition. Additionally, using data to set realistic expectations on the length and outcome of cases can help firms decide on an optimal settlement and generally reduce the risk of wasted resources on litigation. 

Ancillary staff 

Data science is a specialized area, as we have already explored, but there's also a train of thought that within the legal industry, ancillary staff may be needed to facilitate data management. This means in addition to expert staff who can handle data, manipulate it and assess the result, there may be a need for support staff who don't handle the data directly. This could be in the form of a project manager, who can oversee the implementation of a data science team, and its general management. 

Whilst data scientists have certain hard skills, there are also a range of soft skills a project manager can deliver which will smoothly facilitate the building and working of a data science team. These involve people management, communication and collaboration to ensure that individuals' needs are met as they carry out their roles. Indeed, a project manager could be the most important element of data science within the legal industry moving forward. It means the legal eagles can do what they're good at, the data scientists can focus on interpreting and delivering based on the numbers, and in between, a project manager pulls everyone together. 

Legal automation 

Yet another advantage of data science is its ability to increase productivity and efficiency through the automation of otherwise labor-intensive tasks. 

Lawyers often have to handle administrative work like managing files, creating invoices, or responding to clients’ queries. Cloud computing can integrate and automate workflows while also allowing data and analytics to be tracked and processed into monthly or quarterly reports. The time and effort saved by adopting legal automation solutions can then be allocated to higher output and more hands-on client-based initiatives. 

In order to maximize these use cases of data science in the legal industry, organizations and professionals must possess an adaptive and growth-oriented mindset. Legal Creatives plays a role in cultivating this mindset by empowering its clients to undertake continuous growth and lifelong learning through virtual experiences and immersive educational programs. 


Post specially contributed to 

Contributed by: J Bethell 

(Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash)