Much news about legal technology focuses on the latest invention or development. In several areas of practice, however, we have already reached a point where enough data is available to significantly improve our work: all we need to do is to find it, and to use it.

One area that is rich for mining is in the field of litigation. Nicole Black points out in an article in the ABA Journal that with existing software, “The foundational technologies needed to support machine learning have made advanced data analytics and sophisticated language processing possible on a scale never before seen.”

Black says that “These capabilities are particularly useful in the litigation arena. Court data and filings provide a wealth of information about judges, their rulings, the litigants, their attorneys, expert witnesses and more. [L]itigation analytics software […] accesses and harnesses relevant data sets and then makes sense of them and provides the user with the information needed to make informed decisions about the course of a litigation matter.”

Black points out that one of the problems associated with the current abundance of data is the issue of “garbage in; garbage out,” and that several companies including Thomson Reuters (for which Black works), Bloomberg Law and LexisNexis are moving into the business of sorting the useful data from the junk. Specialized computer programs from these and other sources offer insights into a range of litigation-related areas, such as details about judges’ past decisions, analyses of specific cases, and many others.

Black provides a thorough overview of the litigation data-analysis services now available so that readers can consider which may be of use to them, and she points out that several companies offer free trials of their technology. With this kind of software now available to lawyers in many locations around the world, those who take advantage of it are likely to see bottom-line improvements for both their clients and their firms.

I invite you to share your thoughts on this or any other matter related to the law, either in the comments section below, or directly via email.