Big Data’s potential untapped by the legal industry

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Law firms are among the many businesses capturing extensive amounts of data but still figuring out how to utilise it. 
“Law firms are typically very good at capturing the minutia around their chargeable time and what they do and the tasks, but the nexus of that with the value that they are offering their clients and their efficiency, I think is these are the next step for them,” said Anthony Coops, head of data and analytics at KPMG. 
“A lot of the organisations in the corporate world are using big data to become more efficient and to get better productivity in their work force or to get a more engaged workforce or to get clients who are far more satisfied with the services they’re offering.”
For law firms, information is collected in complex ways.  Coops, said that the biggest challenge for law firms is the unstructured nature of data, often appearing in meeting notes, forms, text books and research papers, rather than columns in a spreadsheet. 
He said while the legal industry has never been set up to consume big amounts of such data, there are ways that firms can use technology to drive efficiency.  As law firms expand internationally, up to date legislation and regulatory changes across jurisdictions may be a useful way firms can tap into Big Data to improve productivity.
“There are now products out there that just ingest all legislation, all court notes, procedures, judgements etc,” said Coops.  “That’s changing the way that lawyers work now.”
Looking at challenges or problems that might be slowing processes and figuring out where better or more easily analysed information would improve the process and avoid manual intervention, is the way to start. 
“One of the misconceptions is that you have to spend a lot of money to start to tap into some of the benefits.  With the pace of where technology is going, the cost is reducing and ease of use improving all the time,” he said.  “People often think they have to go for the über sexy solution and story, but actually that’s not the case at all.”