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Guerrilla Analytics: Weaponizing and Mechanizing Law

The governing dynamics of innovation in the legal technology field have been largely to enhance efficiency, speed and cut costs. Which is great, I offer the same thing to my own clients. That being said however, I think it is time to re-calibrate that governing dynamic. Lets just for a moment forget the practice and Case Management tools, whimsical Cloud Solutions, presumptuous Billing Software, e Discovery, etc. you know; all the lofty platitudes that your tech-savvy opposing counsel would rather have you concentrate on. To date, the introduction of these technologies has been viewed as disruptive. I however see them as being fairly innocuous in the context of a highly competitive legal profession. These competition-averse technologies have created the prevailing “Khumbaya” delusion in legal innovation circles, giving each other high fives and holding hands at legal tech gatherings. However, this is a farce. The reality of it is that lawyers need instruments that allow them to destroy each other in court rooms and board rooms with deft scientific precision, not technologies that enhance arbitrary legal tasks like diarising depositions and pre-trial’s. Let’s focus on weaponizing legal technology, give lawyers what they truly want, which is to wipe the floor with their opponents.

One of the reasons for this plethora of ineffective (in legal combat) legal technologies is that they are largely developed by non-lawyers. They therefore humour the eccentricities of genius scientists, but ignore the nuanced, crudely combative art of legal practice. I prefer the gritty boot-strap guerrilla war-fare arenas of legal practice. I am the type of data science practitioner who provides Predictive Analytics to the ambulance-chasing lawyers, the type who relishes calculating Correlation Coefficient and confidence intervals within the dark-arts of legal practice. I’m the type who builds classification and regression models for the over-worked and under-paid legal aid attorney who wants to beat the high priced lawyer for a change. I concern myself with fitness functions in genetic algorithms that generate the most potent combinations of legal strategies at the lowest possible cost for clients.  That is something that non-lawyers within the legal tech field will never quite understand, the sheer brutality of every-day legal practice.

Using Predictive Analytics to inform your companies’ decision to settle out of court or go trial is more useful than arranging your trial dates into pretty patterns on a cloud-based platform with aesthetically pleasing visualizations. At best, these tools can be fairly benign, at worst; they are completely useless and expensive. While they might enhance the in-house efficiencies of the practice, they do nothing for sporadic legal wars. You should use machine learning algorithms to foresee a competitors’ next move; that is more useful to the board and shareholders than a legal research tool that brings back 256 search results. These tools lack the leanness, agility and dynamism that is necessitated by legal warfare.

Let’s for a moment consider the “Algorithmic” lawyer who operates like a super computer, hell-bent on beating you, pure and simple. In the future, the criteria for being a high priced attorney will be less about who is a Pitbull in court, and more about the robustness and accuracy of a lawyers’ data science tools. It will be less about motions and more about deploying a GSP Algorithm measuring an opponent’s motion patterns, or using item set mining to gain insights into his opponent’s argument sequence or anomaly detection in an opponent’s heads of argument or pleadings. That should be the nature of legal warfare. The benchmark will be his arsenal of machine learners instead of a team of associates doing the grunt work in research. That is the sort of technological wizardry coming after you, while you and your associates fuss over the condition of your cloud -based Case Management, all the while wading through copious but irrelevant search results.

Practising law is an inherently predictive task; it’s a summation of approximations, estimations and deductive reasoning. Needless to say, an advanced form of cognition is required to perform these tasks, especially in the back-drop of highly competitive legal battles. When I say “Data Science” I don’t mean fragmented subterranean legal tech solutions that waste good algorithms on menial legal tasks. I mean a coherent, streamlined set of tools, specifically aimed at winning legal disputes with the help of Statistics, Math and Computer Science. This you can mechanize and then weaponize, infinitely. Data Science tools like machine learning are better equipped to actively engage in legal battles, the scope of its reach should not be limited to in-house efficiencies alone.

I am not advocating for proficiency in data science, but rather an intuitive and ultimately innate comfort with its most basic concepts. Remember you are a lawyer, not a data scientist, you need not entertain these fields of practice at an advanced level at all. My advice is to get efficient and affordable data analytics services from data science firms for lawyers, by lawyers. Lawyers should not completely jettison these other tech platforms, they are very helpful. Rather, in the interest of competitiveness, you should be actively using and engaging with data science tools in your legal practice.

5 Comments

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  1. Data is one of the most important and essential component which is driving business everywhere around the world.

    That is why companies need to analyse data in a strategic and comprehensive manner, so that they can adapt to the changing demands and conditions of both customers and global economies.

    Data managers therefore need to track statistics and interpret data in a manner that allows them to make good choices regarding marketing campaigns and growth strategy. These decisions in turn affect the long term success and failure of any company. It is very innovative idea to use analytics in the legal field specially in a country like INDIA.

  2. The usage of Guerrilla Analytics in the legal firms is a very innovative idea which should be applied in solving court cases.I feel its necessary to be applied in the judiciary system of a country,this helps in solving cases and arriving at fast judgments.The cases whichever are being solved in court should be monitored completely where we can use algorithms to decide whether a person is speaking the truth or not,from their behavior,expressions and body language it can be derived.The judge who is going to take the decision to arrive at a conclusion can make the just decision from there.There should be a very effective database which maintains all the cases which have been solved and they should be retrievable when there is a similar case which will be presided in the court.To develop the way to determine what are the tactics which can be used by the opposing counsel is a very complicated task as it requires a highly equipped machine learning system which can determine the thought process of the counterpart.But it can be determined from the past cases where the opposing counsel might have presided and the tactics which they have used,its possible to determine the weaknesses and strengths of them and use them as our advantage by using different powerful algorithms.The scheduling of cases in a court also becomes digitized which makes the court to be busy so as to get the cases solved faster.If data science applications are made in the field of law,the battle will not be only between the two lawyers who are advocating for their own sides but will be for the facts and the ideas employed to find a weakness in the case and the opposing counsel, to win a case.Data Science tools can be employed to determine whether a piece of evidence can hold true or not,what percentage of it is going to be considered as an advantage to move the case towards victory or towards further judgment.A decision tool should be made depending on the laws which are present in the judiciary system,the decisions which are going to be taken must be completely based on these laws as it depends on the way the system of law works and how it can be used as an advantage,also it helps in determining whether a case is suitable for continuing in the court or for a settlement,the profitability from the case can be determined from the conditions present in the case which can be used by both the parties who are involved.This involves a lot of algorithmic applications but nonetheless its not impossible.

  3. The value proposition of using data science, machine learning in such a competitive industry can definitely create competitive advantages to firms that are able to leverage the same. It is also something that bigger law firms need to realize and invest into and the problem with big firms is general bureaucracy in taking up and committing to such “risky” R&D especially when it is not their core competency. Reaping benefits of machine learning in a rather new industry takes time/vision and good tech leadership – these become hard to find in large organisations. It is ironic that it is these same large firms that stand to benefit the most nevertheless from the efficiencies. There is a long way and a lot of investment to go to even nearly arrive at even the idea of “a coherent streamlined set of tools, specifically aimed at winning legal disputes”.

  4. Interesting article. As of 2016, there is a 22% vacancy in trial courts and 40% vacancy in high courts of India. Using ML to “mechanize and then weaponize law” as rightly stated by the author can surely help in the above problem. But its just the matter of taking a step towards it and collecting the resources. Also the same can be extended to a point where the entire nation is governed by ML based on past incidents and possible outcomes, thus helping in decision making. However these things can face an important hurdle in the form of acceptance from the leaders, but it can still be used for reference. I do believe these things can take time but are not very far from reality.

  5. This is a very well written article which talks about possible application of M.L. in the court room. Its emphasize on how M.L techniques can be used by lawyer to predict opponent’s move and destroy him in legal battle. After all law is all about appriximation,deductive reasoning.

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