593185 Future Of The Legal Industry

ANALYSIS: Legal Industry, Make Room for the Data Experts in 2023

More than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced daily, but the legal industry has traditionally been reluctant to incorporate much of that data into legal practice. The complexity and the initial cost of working with data probably cause many lawyers’ concerns about embedding data use in their practice. Fortunately for them, data scientists do exist for the legal profession to lean on.

Some firms and legal departments have already seen the value of incorporating data experts into their everyday legal practice – even if their data staff includes only a few experts – and we expect to see more of this in 2023.

Data-dedicated staff in law today

In Bloomberg Law’s most recent State of Practice survey, 316 lawyers—both in-house and at law firms—were asked if their practice had staff dedicated to data-focused work. More than a quarter of respondents reported that their organization currently has data-focused staff – meaning a majority reported that their organization does not.

And about two-thirds of those reporting no data-focused staff said their organization had no plans to hire staff with data expertise.

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The use of data is still an emerging concept in the legal industry, so it’s not necessarily shocking how many lawyers said their organizations have no plans to hire data experts.

But the main reason given for this lack of action—there is no need for data expertise—is troubling, given how data-centric society has become.

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And while the second and third most selected reasons for not hiring data professionals (cost and customer demands) are valid concerns, using analytics such as budget-to-spend, efficiency and ROI measures can lead to cost savings, making customers happy.

This inability of lawyers to see past the way things have always been done will continue to hinder innovation efforts in the practice of law. Fortunately, there are already firms and legal departments breaking down these barriers and embracing change.

Some lawyers saw the light

Attorneys who reported using data experts at their organization selected multiple areas where these experts contribute to their practice.

Legal analysis and eDiscovery were each chosen by 59% of respondents; automation and business strategy were each chosen by 42% of respondents.

There is no avoiding technology’s intrusion into the legal industry. As a result, spending on legal technology is expected to increase dramatically, and those who already work with data experts have an advantage when it comes to evaluating the technology they are investing in.

Additionally, with an economic downturn looming, companies are likely to reevaluate their needs and turn to analytics for help. Those organizations that have not yet hired data-focused staff, and do not currently have plans, may now look to data experts to help solve inefficiencies. But organizations already working with data teams have seen the benefits, according to survey data.

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Adding data staff to a legal organization is a winning decision: Attorneys who already have such staff overwhelmingly report that they are helpful to their practice and to the organization as a whole.

This encouraging feedback underscores the need for this skill set to be embedded in the legal industry.

The future of data scientists in law looks bright

With the amount of data consumed by society growing daily and the changing landscape of the practice of law, the legal industry’s need for data experts is paramount. But Bloomberg Law survey data suggests that we may be just at the beginning of a trend, and that we may see more firms and legal departments hire data experts in 2023.

Firms with data-focused staff are on the cusp of this trend, and others must take note and make way for data experts or risk being left behind.

Access additional analysis from our Bloomberg Law 2023 series herecovering trends in Litigation, Transaction, ESG and Employment, Technology and the Future of the Legal Industry.

Bloomberg Law subscribers can find related content on us Surveys, reports and data analysis resource.

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