AALL Spectrum

AALL Spectrum / November/December 2019 / Volume 24, No. 2

AALL Spectrum / Published by American Association of Law Libraries

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22 AALL SPECTRUM | WWW.AALLNET.ORG © 2019 BY JOSH BECKER JOSH BECKER CHAIRMAN, LEX MACHINA HEAD OF LEGAL ANALYTICS, LEXISNEXIS Menlo Park, CA info@lexmachina.com Josh Becker is the head of legal analytics at LexisNexis and chairman of Lex Machina. A long-time recognized thought leader on leveraging technology to improve the practice of law, he is responsible for defining Lexis' legal analytics strategy and vision. Becker previously served as Lex Machina's CEO for seven years, leading strategy and operations. During his tenure, Lex Machina was acquired by LexisNexis. He was also part of the founding team of Dice.com (NYSE:DHX) and ran corpo- rate development at Agile Software (sold to Oracle). He was a venture capitalist at Redpoint Ventures and then a founding general partner of New Cycle Capital. Becker co-founded and remains chair of The Full Circle Fund, a coalition of tech- nology and business leaders that collectively funds and supports leading social entrepre- neurs. In 2015, he received The Jefferson Award for public service for his work with Full Circle Fund. 3 Research + Analytics Information Management extensive normalization to provide reli- able results to analytics solutions users. Data-Based Tools are Not Interchangeable To make intelligent buying decisions and perform effective research, it's essential that consumers of analytics tools understand the tradeoffs that vendors make in addressing these issues, such as those presented by PACER, when they develop their solutions. What are their processes for tagging and coding, and to what extent are those measures tailored to the idiosyncrasies of individual prac- tice areas and specific kinds of cases? Can a solution distinguish between ANDA (Abbreviated New Drug Application) and non-ANDA cases in searches of patent litigation, or file sharing and non-file sharing cases in copyright litigation? To what degree are individual vendors willing to invest in legal subject-matter experts, not only to help design their solutions but also to provide continual input that will "teach" machines to make better decisions and optimize algorithms? These are the kinds of questions that law librarians and other information professionals in the industry need to be prepared to ask. And then, after they've received their answers, share what they've learned with colleagues at their organizations. Provide Training and Engage with Vendors Law librarians can also take more responsibility for educating employees in their own organizations. Collaborating and sharing findings with other legal information professionals is an excel- lent first step, but the next step involves communicating those findings to the audience that needs them the most: lawyers and firm leadership. This may mean offering regular training sessions to which colleagues can bring their real-world legal and business challenges and learn the best way to address those challenges using tools that are already at their disposal. It may also mean organizing events for busy lawyers. While many experienced lawyers are reluctant to take the time to attend tech-focused "boot camps" or an occasional "Tech Tuesday" pre- sentation, holding events is a good way to grab their attention for a defined period of time and get them to listen and engage. Law librarians can also develop training programs for summer interns, who are more likely to be open to data-driven approaches to the prac- tice of law and who, after all, represent the future of the profession. Law librarians can also consider engaging more regularly with ven- dors. Law librarians can help vendors develop more user-friendly interfaces, urge them to be more transparent about their data-handling practices, demand they provide honest assess- ments of the content and functionality tradeoffs they make in developing solutions, and advocate for product features that focus more narrowly and effectively on everyday use cases. They can also insist that leadership in their own organizations gives them a seat at the table alongside lawyers when ven- dors seek help testing their products. Legal culture is a persistent barrier to data competency. Law librarians must recognize that they have an important opportunity, as well as a responsibility, to help change that culture. Risks and Opportunities Ahead Data competent legal information professionals needn't have advanced degrees in statistics or data science, nor must they have a detailed understand- ing of artificial intelligence, analytics, machine learning, natural language processing, and other data-parsing technologies. However, when specific questions arise during litigation, inves- tigations, negotiations, client pitches, business development activities, or hiring talent, the use of advanced tools to answer such questions should be second nature. As a group, lawyers still lack suffi- cient awareness of and hands-on expe- rience with a bewildering assortment of technology tools that can help them answer such questions much more quickly and accurately. As tools get better and are more widely used, there is a serious risk that legal teams who are better-informed and more techno- logically savvy adversaries in a dis- pute will have the distinct advantage of having access to a broader base of factual information and deeper insights. While that presents a serious problem for some firms and their clients, it also presents an opportunity for law librarians to provide value and, ultimately, to enable better rep- resentation for those clients. 3 EXTRA Listen to the Legal Talk Network episode "AALL 2019: Legal Analytics—Products and Best Practices," recorded at the 2019 AALL Annual Meeting at bit.ly/ND19LegalAnalytics.

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