How Big Data is Transforming the Legal Field

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Big data refers to the massive volumes of data collecting on everything from internet searches to app usage to IoT devices such as connected wearables. The development of tools able to find the useful pieces of information in this firehose of data and collate it into patterns is likely to impact numerous sectors.

One of the areas where big data has already started changing the business practises is the legal field. Examining this particular example shed some light on how big data is about to transform all the sectors where data intelligence really makes a difference. Here are a few ways massive data collection and computing is already transforming the legal field.

Identification of Potential Clients

Big data is allowing many law firms to identify potential clients much more strategically and at a lower cost. The classic case of sending a postcard to everyone who has recently received a DUI ticket is being replicated by law firms using data analysis tools to find clients like those who are running a business out of their home and may want business legal advice.

Another variation of this is the analysis of law enforcement actions, such as finding that one cop issues five times as many tickets as others or one specific jurisdiction is responsible for the vast majority of civil forfeitures. These abnormalities are not necessarily bad since Pareto’s Law says that you’ll have a few outliers in any situation. However, identifying the oddities gives you the situations that require investigation, as well as hard data that can be used to prove the case that cops in a particular town are looking for cash to seize or issuing citations for profit.

Offensive and Defensive Database Analysis

Data mining can find potential cases of fraud in billing, contract awards and sales. Data mining provides hard evidence of potentially biased hiring, promotion and firing practices. Conversely, data mining by police and data-driven policing can snare people who did nothing wrong but fit the “bad” profile or did something out of the ordinary.

Another form of data mining is the mining of social media, whether looking for the source of a data leak, determining the timeline of activities by a subject or getting a bigger picture of the impact on a business’ reputation after false allegations. In this regard, social intelligence tools used by marketing companies can be used to prove the harm caused by slander and data mining tools like RIOT and PRISM by the feds can likewise prove that someone was not where the state says they were. This is where the USD Law School and other institutions have started teaching data mining practices as part of their curriculum. It’s an interesting topic for law students and one that is likely to crop up more frequently in the future.

The massive amount of legal records to be mined offers opportunities, too. The ability to search for legal records about nearly anyone allows attorneys to identify those who have a pattern of filing frivolous lawsuits or suing for personal financial gain.

Data-Driven Decision Making

Data analysis and artificial intelligence can mine databases and connect different data sets, providing insights that otherwise take months or years of research. This can save massive amounts of time for law firms that know how to use these tools.

Big data is about to prompt one of the biggest shifts we have ever seen in the world of law. But it is also going to have some major impacts in the business processes of many other industries. And IoT, should play a key role in this transformation by fueling the market-specific’s big data algorithms with new types of information and insights coming from the billions of connected devices out there in the field.


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