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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.