alt.legal: Legal Analytics Is Heating Up In Hotlanta

Charlotte Alexander

I took a spoonful of soup, hoping to negotiate the delicate harmony of consuming my lunch and staying a excellent listener in a discussion. My listening was focused on Professor Charlotte Alexander, sitting across from me outside of Highland Bakery in downtown Atlanta. Alexander is an affiliate professor at Georgia Condition College with a twin appointment — tenured in the Robinson University of Small business and with a secondary appointment in the University of Law. She just began a Authorized Analytics Lab at Georgia Condition, and obviously, I required to discover far more.

The handbook exploration path

Alexander (B.A. Columbia, J.D. Harvard) moved down to Atlanta all around the similar time I did, in 2006. Her initial working day task was to work with the Georgia Authorized Solutions System as a Skadden Fellow. “I was doing the job on farmworkers’ legal rights,” she reported. As she advocated for farmworkers in her casework, she grew to become fascinated in how courts serve or never serve personnel, especially farm personnel. “How does the federal court method deal with farmworkers? Who gets to go to court, and who doesn’t?”

But the noble ranks of authorized help would not be the ultimate context for her service. “I generally experienced an desire in empirical work.” So transitioning from follow, she entered the academy with a exploration concentration on employment litigation. For some of her exploration, she hired a gaggle of law students to “code judges’ opinions in excess of the last 3-4 several years.”

To my authorized managed companies brain, this sounded a whole lot like document overview. “We examine massive quantities of opinions and reduced them to distinct variables, fields that did not get captured in Westlaw.” Informed by statistical approaches and econometrics, she pulled her exploration utilizing this protocol of law student-reviewed opinions.

Machine mastering

Then just one working day, as she began to discover about equipment mastering in unstructured info, she experienced an epiphany. “It was a eureka instant,” recalled Alexander. “I understood I experienced adopted a labor-intensive method to a undertaking for text analytics!” And as it turned out, the Institute of Insight at Georgia Condition was a best-notch info analytics group that was eager to bounce into far more use situations.

At this issue in our lunch, we geeked out for a instant — how did you translate your overview protocol into a equipment mastering undertaking, did you pick a supervised or unsupervised model, what about arbitration outcomes that aren’t generally released, and considerably far more. All the factors that make my eyes mild up and I could convey to she was excited about what she’d uncovered way too.

Finally, I tried out to get us again on track. “Tell me far more about the Authorized Analytics Lab.” For starters, if info analytics could be applied in authorized exploration, what would she do with this challenge she experienced began all around employment outcomes in court opinions?

“Well,” defined Alexander, “the Division of Labor presented a grant to essentially do a similar exercise, with broader scope. So we are undertaking the challenge that way.” Armed with these assets, and doing the job with the No cost Law Job, just one concentration of the lab is to mine all readily available opinions on PACER relevant to a topic and then “go to town on them.” The Labor Division is fascinated in the warm question of a worker’s status as an impartial contractor versus as an personnel. D&O insurers are searching at securities class motion filings. Other folks are fascinated in Good Labor Expectations litigation outcomes, or fintech patent apps.

The Authorized Analytics Lab: exploration, teaching and collaboration

So consequently is born the Authorized Analytics Lab. It’s challenging to consider that they “started last drop, and now we’re below!” exclaimed Alexander.

There are a few places of concentration for the Lab. Initially, identifying and scoping out analytics in aid of authorized exploration. “Many of my colleagues see it as the future move of their exploration,” Alexander reported. One more area for the Authorized Analytics Lab focuses on teaching. Making use of methodological skills to unstructured info in law is no simple undertaking, but the Lab seeks to “raise a new era of lawyers” that have these skills. They have certificate applications in the performs for their J.D. students, and a twin-degree (Juris Medical doctor moreover a Master’s in Analytics) could be the future all-natural move. Finally, the Lab collaborates with lawyers in follow, in business sprints, to solve or investigate a remarkably distinct area.

Into the long run

As I generally like to inquire, “What’s your long run eyesight for all of this?”

“We developed the Lab as an extension of our existing methodology know-how on unstructured info,” replied Alexander. “We have to have to preserve going and continue the work that is just receiving began. We’ll also have to have to deepen our bench of college who can consider about use situations, but also other perspectives, like ethics programs. We want to carry far more people today jointly from the GSU group, like doing the job with the Center for Accessibility to Justice.”

In sum, at the stop of the working day, these endeavours all go to “building a nationally recognized middle for analytics in the law.”

I’ve penned about initiatives like this before. Authorized instruction is altering, for the greater. No matter whether it is checking out challenge management perspectives to authorized service supply, or a disciplined method to authorized innovation, we know that before long, alt.authorized won’t be so alt any longer, as an escalating wave of authorized innovators enters the follow. One more instance of that is this Authorized Analytics Lab, in which an tutorial institution like Georgia Condition, can intersect sturdy info analytics abilities with the law and carry new insights to lifestyle.

And for the rest of us who are alt.authorized veterans, we won’t be ready to say with these ease, “Well, they never instruct you that in law faculty, do they?”

Due to the fact thanks to Professor Alexander and many others like her, before long the reaction will universally be, “Yes, they do.”


Ed Sohn is VP, Merchandise Management and Partnerships, for Thomson Reuters Legal Managed Solutions. After far more than five several years as a Biglaw litigation affiliate, Ed expended two several years in New Delhi, India, overseeing and innovating authorized approach outsourcing companies in litigation. Ed now focuses on delivering new e-discovery solutions with engineering managed companies. You can make contact with Ed about ediscovery, authorized managed companies, expat residing in India, theology, chess, ST:TNG, or the Chicago Bulls at edward.sohn@thomsonreuters.com or through Twitter (@edsohn80). (The views expressed in his columns are his individual and do not replicate those people of his employer, Thomson Reuters.)

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