Agent of Change: The Impact of Data Science on the Practice of Law

January 27th, 2021


Agent of Change: The Impact of Data Science on the Practice of Law

January 27th, 2021

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has focused a harsh spotlight on the ability of organizations to work remotely, including many law firms that found themselves scrambling to get the right tools and infrastructure into place. As a result, we’ve seen an exponential acceleration in digital collaboration across industries and sectors – what firms may have expected to be doing in 15 years’ time has now been fast-tracked. And it’s likely we’ll continue to see significant advances in the next couple years.

How law firms choose to approach and embrace this new wave of digital collaboration and remote work will have a major impact on their ability to use analytics and data science to gain insights that will improve their practice of law in both the short and long term.

Putting Analytics to Work

The more you use remote and collaborative tools in your daily work, the more data exhaust you create. Analytics and data science can be applied to all that data to benefit firms in two major ways:

  1. Gaining insights. The programmatic use of tools creates data exhaust that can be analyzed to gain insights into work, such as success rates, what led to certain successes and what could have gone better. When you can analyze the factors that contributed to success, it’s easier to replicate that success in the future and avoid bad outcomes.
  2. Increasing automation. If you’re using your tools programmatically and performing processes the same way every time, you can analyze the data exhaust created to determine whether those processes can be automated. The ability to automate tasks is revolutionizing the practice of law. Junior associate time doesn’t need to be devoted to manual tasks that can easily be automated but can instead be spent on work that is more insightful and leads to better outcomes. This is particularly useful in a world where the billable hour continues to decline in popularity.

Positioning Your Firm for the Future

The combination of remote work, increased automation and more insights gained from analytics presents an opportunity for law firms to gain a massive competitive advantage.

Some experts estimate organizations can save more than $10,000 per employee per year by having them work remotely. That money should be invested in better tools to improve remote work and collaboration. With analytics and data science, those better tools will lead to valuable insights and more automation, increasing the firm’s profitability and attracting clients who are worried about their bottom line and increasingly demand that firms do more with less.

Remote work success requires the ability to quickly scale to take advantage of new opportunities. Do you have the capability to remotely handle a large case if it comes in tomorrow? The time to answer that question is now, not when the case shows up.

To get started, review the technology you already have and determine how well it handles the work you routinely perform and whether there are any gaps or room for improvement. Those gaps are where you should be investing the money you save from remote work so that you can continue to offer clients the most innovative service and the ability to scale to meet their needs down the road.

While digital technologies require an initial investment, they are almost infinitely scalable, allowing you to inexpensively add processing power, storage and bandwidth. Such affordable scalability is not possible with manual labor – and certainly not with office space. But automation and remote work environments enable firms to leverage this advantage.

Many firms like to think that they cannot succeed without traditional offices, but success stories from the tech world suggest otherwise. And several companies that moved to work-from-home models in 2020 are finding such positive results that they are offering the option to employees on a permanent basis.

Law firms can position themselves for success in the new digital world in which we find ourselves in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By embracing remote work and adopting the right tools, firms can increase automation and harness the kinds of insights from analytics that will provide a competitive advantage and enable them to capitalize on the new opportunities arising from today’s uncertain times.


Today’s blog post was written by Dave Schwab, chief product officer at AdvoLogix.

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