A. Quote of the Week

What passes today as “knowledge management” in most firms just scratches the surface of what could be done. Combine that data with the growing body of public datasets, and the world of decision making gets very interesting…. No lawyer holds a monopoly on the way to handle a matter, but data can give every lawyer an advantage. Decision making informed by data could make that advantage hard to beat.” (Ken Grady)

B. Articles to Read

  1. Legal Decision Making: Why Data Matters

Decision Making, Lawyers, And Lessons Not Learned (Ken Grady)

Key Quote:

“…the average lawyer bases his or her advice and decision making on their personal experience. In addition to being an unrepresentative statistical sample, that dataset probably includes many types of bias in the handling and outcome... In other words, it is totally inadequate for the client’s purposes. Yet, the average lawyer does not look beyond that dataset… This leaves clients in the awkward position of getting inadequate advice based on small, biased data samples.”

Why it Matters:

The field of behavioural economics is a fascinating one and it has helped shed light on the many ways in which humans act irrationally. Lawyers (at least for now) are human; therefore, lawyers are not immune (despite what they might argue) from irrational thinking. As Ken Grady points out in this excellent article, although the science of decision making has progressed quite a bit in the past 30 years, the ‘science’ of legal decision making hasn’t made too much progress.

While many challenges exist with access to and reliability on legal data at the moment (and blindly relying on the existing data would not be a wise decision), lawyers who provide advice based on both their personal experience and larger data sets should be able to provide better advice than those who solely rely on their personal experience. This is one reason why Aird & Berlis subscribes to Blue J Legal’s Tax Foresight and Employment Foresight services.

2. Tracking Legal Tech Initiatives

Is Your Legal Tech Initiative Working? (Ivy Grey)

Key Quote:

Our approach to technology and process improvement initiatives is often fueled by hope, driven by shame, and made urgent by fearful hype. Missing from that list? Data. This does little to set us up for success and leaves change efforts subject to the whims of whomever is loudest or most powerful. If we want to see change in law firms, we must prove that tech initiatives deliver results. And if our change efforts are failing, then we must correct course or cut our losses. We can’t do either without data.”

Why it Matters:

Data isn’t just something that lawyers can use to provide better advice to their clients. It’s also something that lawyers can and should use when it comes to internal initiatives. What’s the point of spending tens of thousands on a shiny new legal tech product if no one at the firm is using it, or if it turns out that most lawyers find it useless? This excellent article from Ivy Grey provides some concrete best practices for the successful implementation of legal technology, including establishing critical success factors, developing KPIs and measuring data.