With the technology industry moving faster and faster to advanced machine learning and diving deeper and deeper into data, there are new and exciting career opportunities emerging across the IT spectrum. One of these newfangled job roles is Legal Technology Analyst.
New territory for analytics
In short, a legal technology analyst is a data analyst. They just specialize in analyzing massive amounts of legal document and rulings. Think about the data driven insights you could learn from a machine going through each ruling, cross-referencing it with all sorts of items you, as a human, couldn't possibly review — all the way down to the level of what the judge ate that day.
Legal analytics relies on advanced technologies, such as machine learning and natural language processing, to clean up, structure, and analyze raw data from millions of case dockets and documents. A legal technology analyst might get through such a forest in hundreds of years by hand, but computers can shrink that timetable to a matter of hours.
Legal analytics offers litigators facts-based answers to key questions that emerge during litigation: "What are the predilections of this particular judge? Should we seek a change of venue? What specific tactics have opposing attorneys used in similar cases? Has party Y pursued litigation in this area before? If so, what were the outcomes? Should we press forward with this case or settle?"
In-house counsel at various corporations also use legal analytics to inform key business decisions, such as who to hire for outside counsel. What is the track record of any firm in litigating certain kinds of cases? Which firms have the most experience in this area, and what were the outcomes of those cases?
A large enough team with a long enough lead time could do all of this legwork the old-fashioned way. But why settle for that? With legal analytics and a good legal technology analyst, litigators can answer such questions quickly and accurately, arriving in minutes at comprehensive answers that would take weeks or more to piece together by hand from multiple sources.
For hundreds of years, litigators have served their clients by applying facts to law using legal reasoning. To identify relevant law, statutes, cases, rules to apply to the facts of a case, lawyers conduct legal research. Performing accurate legal research remains a core skill of successful lawyering.
Legal analytics is simply a new tool for lawyers to do their jobs. Legal analytics involves mining data contained in case documents and docket entries, and then aggregating that data to provide previously unknowable insights into the behavior of the individuals (judges and lawyers), organizations (parties, courts, law firms), and the subjects of lawsuits (such as patents) that populate the litigation ecosystem.
Litigators use legal analytics to reveal trends and patterns in past litigation that inform legal strategy and anticipate outcomes in current cases. While every litigator learns how to conduct legal research in law school, performs legal research on the job (or reviews research conducted by associates or staff), and applies the fruits of legal research to the facts of their cases, many may not yet have encountered legal analytics.
Data-driven insights from legal analytics do not replace legal research or reasoning, or lawyers themselves. They can supplement and augment decisions, both prior to and during litigation. Think of legal analytics as Moneyball (beloved baseball book and movie) for lawyers.
Just as a Moneyball approach to managing a baseball team supplements the hard-earned wisdom of managers, scouts, and team executives with data-driven insights, legal analytics supplements a lawyer's legal wisdom. In law, as in sports, data and analytics can provide the margin of victory.
As a legal technology analyst, you would write machine learning algorithms to ingest and analyze case documents across a whole branch of case theory. You could examine an entire judges' career, cases involving a certain topic, venue treatment, jury selection, and so forth. There is no end to how detailed and creative you can be in fulfilling your job duties.
The legal technology analyst job role is quickly gaining interest from employers across numerous industries. Up until now, to get insights into the behavior of specific attorneys, firms, judges, or parties, litigators have had to rely on querying colleagues who may have personally dealt with them in the past. But such anecdotal data often relies on a small sample size. It may well be misleading and is unlikely to provide a complete, accurate picture.
One area where the profession is evolving rapidly is in the development of arguments. While technology cannot infallibly predict the outcome of a particular case, it can provide insights that increase the odds of an accurate prediction, enabling its users to pursue accurate litigation strategy that is more likely to succeed.
For example, a litigator representing a client in a securities case could determine which motions or other tactics have been most successful in other securities cases tried before the same judge. It would be reasonable to predict that similar motions or strategies may be successful in the current case.
The attorney still needs complete command of the relevant law, which traditional legal research provides, to set and execute the right strategy. But the outcomes of these motions or tactics are not quantified in the documents accessible via legal research, so there is no way to uncover these insights using traditional research tools.
You can actually take your key legal argument from a prompt by a machine learning algorithm. This is truly a new branch of technology.
Training and background
For this position, you need to love the law and all things about it to begin with, as well as have a background as a clerk, a case review, a researcher, or a lawyer. After you have that, you may discover that you have a knack for logical processes and computers.
You can go to school for the machine learning and the data design you need. If you would like to go into this type of law/technology, I recommend learning the law first and then pursuing specialized schooling for the added technology learning.
For certification and software, Lexis-Nexis, PACER and Westlaw are some of the software packages I would focus on. Get a degree or a two-year certificate in machine learning or algorithm development and you will be sought after by all of the top law firms.