Taking on Data Analytics

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 26, Number 2 (November/December 2021), pgs 46-48.

By Miram Childs, Director, Law Library of Louisiana Supreme Court; Andre Davison, Research & Information Operations Implementation Manager, Orrick LLP and Scott Vanderlin, Student Services Librarian, University of Chicago D’Angelo Law Library

Data is everywhere. Many law librarians’ job responsibilities increasingly require them to understand and handle data. What advice, recommendations, or tips do you have to help legal information professionals improve their data skills?

ANDRE: Fifteen-plus years ago, mathematician Clive Humby made headlines when he declared that “data is the new oil.” His metaphor explained that “just like oil, in its rawest form, data is almost useless. But when it is refined, it can be turned into something much more valuable.” Firm law librarians have the unique skills and tools to refine and transform data to perform analytics to support the practice and business of law. Data can seem intimidating, but I will offer recommendations that helped me become more acclimated to using and understanding data analytics. 

VOLUNTEER FOR PROJECTS

At my previous firm, our new CIO created a project to revise our budget reporting process. We were previously utilizing an Excel spreadsheet to track our annual budget. He asked me to lead a project where our goal was to transform the invoice data we were collecting into insights we could use in our budget report. In this project, I learned to utilize tools such as Microsoft SharePoint and Power BI to transform a considerable amount of data into a digestible format for our finance committee. I was able to take some courses to help familiarize myself with the products. My willingness to volunteer to lead that project helped me learn new methods and processes to transform large amounts of data into actionable insights.

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Ask a Director: Implementing Data Analytics

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 26, Number 2 (November/December 2021), pgs 28-29.

By Patricia Barbone, Director of Library Services, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and John Digilio, Firmwide Director of Library Services, Sidley Austin LLP

Last week, we posted an article from AALL Spectrum on How Data Analytics Can Change the Way Law Firms Do Business, as well as an article highlighting how some law librarians have made use of internal and external data repositories to launch their own data projects, DIY Analytics:  Beyond Excel.   This week’s posts from AALL Spectrum complement those articles.  One illustrates how law library directors and their teams are currently implementing analytics solutions.  The others encourage law librarians to further embrace their data scientist skills and to look into the “black box” of technology, so they can understand and present data and analytics in ways that will best benefit their firms and organizations. 

PATRICIA BARBONE

For the past three to four years, as analytics research tools have proliferated, we have familiarized our lawyers and legal staff with the concept of legal analytics by introducing them to the data analytics features in our existing legal research products. We currently subscribe to many products for litigation and transactional research that contain analytics tools. Some of the most popular products include Bloomberg Law Litigation Analytics, Lexis Context, Lex Machina, and Westlaw Litigation Analytics. For transactional lawyers, we frequently instruct them to use Bloomberg Deal Analytics, Lexis’s Intelligize, and LexisNexis Market Standards.

Analytics training for lawyers has been gradually taking place over the past few years as these tools have increasingly become an integral part of the research platform. Originally, when a database had a data analytics component, it was highlighted in training if it illustrated a typical legal problem that our lawyers were trying to solve but was cumbersome to tackle using traditional research techniques. In our current general orientation, we let lawyers know that analytics research tools may help them get to a better understanding of the legal issue, a better assessment of the strategy, or a better way to retrieve relevant precedents. ­The results will be presented in a tabular or graphical format that provides a different perspective than a list of case citations. We highlight a couple of tools when they begin, but we don’t overstress them because we find a relevant use case is needed for lawyers to fully appreciate the power of analytics. ­Therefore, we showcase the data analytics tools all year round, not just as part of the onboarding process.

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