Daniel Katz: Data Driven Law Practice

This session is presented by Daniel Martin Katz, Assistant Professor of Law, Michgan State University & Co-Director, Reinvent Law Laboratory at MSU Law.

[These are my notes from the 2013 Ark Group Conference: Business Intelligence and Analytics in the Legal Profession.  Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error.  Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • What’s Driving the Move to Business Analytics? Moore’s Law is happening right in front of our eyes — exponential growth of computing power. Kryder’s Law is showing the exponential decay in the price of data storage. The book, Race Against the Machine, provides more detail on the unrelenting drive to artificial intelligence.
  • Law will be affected. The IBM team working on Watson, is focused on putting all that computing power in a device as small as an iPhone. They will apply all that power to the healthcare industry because that industry is worth trillions. The legal industry is worth billions, so it is a lower priority, but it will be on the list.
  • Technology has Clear Advantages. In some jurisdictions, it is possible to obtain a license for a driverless car to drive itself. (In other words, the license is given to the car, not a human driver.) Why is this? Because the driverless cars have proven to be safer than human drivers. Katz says that for him, this is “the end of history.” Why? Because this is a case where the machine outperforms humans AND the tasks involved are very complicated. Katz suggests that that the process involved may be more complicated that most legal processes. So human lawyers can’t really claim that their exceptionalism will protect the legal industry and keep it safe from machines.
  • How can Machines Chip Away at the Legal Industry? (1) With enough data concerning legal fees, the machine can help drive down legal rates. This is a powerful tool in the hands of savvy general counsel. And, this capability is available now. (2) Predicting outcomes in legal disputes is another area in which machines can outperform humans because the machines can handle many more data points in a systematic fashion. Lex Machina (which combines IP experts and computing experts) is very advanced and able to predict whether a patent will survive scrutiny by a court. To do this, they have collected and analyzed data from 30 years of patent disputes. (3) Professor William Henderson has a company that predicts how well law students can do in particular law firms. (4) Peter Thiel has provided support to Judicata, a company focused on “mapping the legal genome.”
  • Parting Words: Welcome to law’s information revolution (and math will be on the exam)!


Comments are closed.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑