Data overload placing huge pressure on barristers

Within the legal sector, barristers and lawyers are under pressure to collect, assimilate and analyse vast amounts of information on a daily basis. Legal activities such as contract analysis, M&A (due diligence), disclosure/litigation, data preservation or research, require lawyers to access the right information at the right time. Law firms need to retain and manage exponentially increasing amounts of data.

We are in a world of information overload where global data volumes are growing like never before.  Information can be accessed on any number of devices and stored in a disparate number of places as cloud technology becomes more and more prevalent. However, the more information we can store, actually makes the search process that much harder.

When it comes to data searching Google is considered the de facto search tool. As we know, type something into Google and millions of results will be presented – the onus is on the user to sift through these results to find what they are looking for.   Millions of hours are lost every day through not being able to search effectively and find the correct results – it is estimated that the average information-orientated worker spends 20% of their week searching for information – this time could be spent more efficiently.  Anyone trying to find specific information in an email thread will know how slow and frustrating this type of time consuming searching can be.

Search & Discovery Technology

The legal profession was initially slow to adopt new technology, but this is changing as increasingly law firms and chambers are now embracing it as they see the benefits.   A survey of chief information officers at European legal firms by RSG Consulting for the Financial Times found that the vast majority did not believe their firms used available technology enough; the reasons being a lack of investment in IT talent and a resistance to change.

Clients are expecting value for money and efficiency from their barrister and the proper deployment of technology can give chambers a competitive edge.   A key part of this is how to deal with the huge amount of data, structured and unstructured, created by the typical chambers.  If laborious and repetitive tasks can be automated, the chambers can become much more efficient.  Time is money for barristers – if their time can be spent on “value work” for clients rather than spending hours looking for the right information, either within the chamber’s IT estate or from external sources – it is a win-win for the barrister and client.

A Software as a Service (SaaS) high precision search, discovery and analysis platform such as Nalytics from Nalanda Technology can help to process existing data, searching through millions of documents from a wide range of sources in seconds, to deliver meaningful information.

David Rivett, COO of Nalytics says-

“We believe there is no such thing as unstructured data.  All data has an inherent structure as anything held in a digital form can be simply processed to create data sets.  These data sets can be used to locate and discover information and meaningful content within its context and structure.  

Nalytics enables connections to be made between seemingly disparate bits of information.  It is not simply about finding information but using the technology for discovery…..finding links between pieces of information and being able to cross-reference data sets in a meaningful and useful way.”

Increasingly barristers are collaborating with other professionals to service a client’s needs….this involves the sharing and discussion of vast amounts of data…a precision search tool such as Nalytics can take the pain out of what is often a time consuming process soaking up a chamber’s resources.

Data Search

For a lot of users, the experience of searching is frustrating; frustrating because it takes too long and frustrating because it doesn’t give the required results. Searching should be more than looking for a person’s name or putting a single term into a search bar and hoping that the search solution can infer other criteria. Utilising information about the user and their search habits can further support search efficiencies.

Taking case or project data as an example; why not use the information from the user’s navigation history to understand the cases/projects they are interested/involved in? Using third party information such as their history can help filter or rank results specific to the case that they are working.

Imprecise searching can be extremely problematic.  Users sometimes walk a fine line between having a level of ambiguity around their search criteria to allow for result permutations, and being explicit to limit the numbers of results.

Information within a chambers will inevitably be stored in numerous places and formats – it could be in the case management system, emails, pdfs, within SharePoint, witness statement transcripts, or even in external databases such as Lexis or Westlaw.

Search and discovery solutions such as Nalytics can find the data quickly and easily wherever it is held and the application which created the information does not need to be launched in order to access it.

New Legal Technology

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a hot topic for the legal profession at the moment – some see it as an opportunity, others as a threat.

David comments-

“I believe like all technology, AI should be seen as an enabler to make life easier and is a real talking point just now across the legal sector.  At the moment, it seems very unlikely that AI will replace barristers and solicitors, nonetheless, routine clerical tasks could easily be automated using AI.  A few minutes saved per day on a regular task can add up to many days over the course of a year.”

 Technologies such as voice recognition has progressed in leaps and bounds in recent years with services such as Siri and Cortana being commonplace.  These tools may help users access information quicker and more easily, but you still have to ask the right questions to get the right answers back.

A legal firm embracing new technology is leading full-service UK law firm, Gosschalks Solicitors.  The firm had moved to a new case management system, however, they had a vast amount of legacy data they needed to preserve, whilst at the same time, required quick and easy access to this data when required – they chose Nalytics to help them, achieving significant cost savings through reduced overheads and management time.

Ultimately, barristers will only adopt technology which is easy to use without technical knowledge, quick to implement and provides a real return on investment for the chambers.

David adds-

“With its precision search functionality, Nalytics enables better more accurate decision making, enhancing insight and improving productivity across a law firm. This not only saves time and money, but also ensures client value and supports lawyers in doing their job better.”

About the author:  David Rivett is Chief Operating Officer at Nalanda Technology, a technology firm specialising in precision search and discovery solutions for the legal profession.  Over the past year Nalanda has been working directly with a number of law firms to assist them in managing millions of documents with Nalytics. For further information or to request a free demo, please visit https://www.nalytics.com/legal

 

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