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3 ways to better set client expectations with Litigation Analytics

 
Rachel Beithon
Insight Attorney

Each year, hundreds of small law firms share the unique pressures they face in their practice in the Thomson Reuters State of US Small Law Firms Study. Top challenges regularly cited include clients demanding more for less and lack of internal efficiency.

Client communication and expectation management can be some of the biggest hassles of practicing law, but also your best differentiators from your competition when done right. In the past, providing clear answers to your clients about case strategy, timelines, and budgets could take hours of research and/or require intimate familiarity with every case in a particular court or in front of a particular judge. Even then, proving value and accuracy to clients could be difficult to do.

But now, technology driven by artificial intelligence is changing the client management landscape. Litigation Analytics on Westlaw Edge gives you a concise way of explaining relevant case information to your client so they remain informed, without you having to spend hours researching. Let’s look at a few ways in which Litigation Analytics can help you prove your value to clients and improve your client interactions.

Litigation strategy often sounds like some mystical trade secret, reserved only for the inner sanctum of a law office. And while strategy is unique to each attorney, the information it’s based on doesn’t need to be a secret to the client. Transparency is a bit of a buzzword in the legal world at the moment; there has been a dramatic change since the first case law was written, making the law easier to understand. Legalese no longer rules the day, and that transparency is more in demand from clients.

Imagine being able to present your client with simple but clear charts and historical data to help them understand the basis of your case strategy. If you’re using Litigation Analytics on Westlaw Edge, you have access to the most state and federal dockets coverage available. It utilizes this huge data set to glean the most relevant information about judges, courts, attorneys, law firms, and case types. From pleading to motion to outcome to appeal, every aspect of litigation is available to provide the most insightful information for determining how to proceed.  All of this is presented in easy-to-understand charts, making it simpler to share and communicate your case strategy with clients.

If litigation is just beginning, knowing the history of your judge can help you make an informed decision about how much information you need to provide in your pleading (or response) to make sure the judge is well-educated about the issues. Determine within seconds how likely - and why - your judge is to grant a dispositive motion by simply typing your query into Westlaw Edge to get into Litigation Analytics:

Start with a case type and evaluate your venue options, based upon which location is more favorable for your desired outcome:

Or which court takes less time to process litigation for your case type:

These options (among others) allow you to inform your client of the material upon which you’re basing decisions, keeping them prepared for every step of litigation, and letting them ask more knowledgeable questions along the way.

Litigation is rarely a short process, but when clients are in the midst of it, every day waiting for action seems like wasted time. Delay may cause them to worry about a negative outcome or to think that you aren’t doing enough to move their case forward. As attorneys, we know that most litigation can take months, if not years. While it’s excellent if you have your own anecdotal evidence about a judge’s or court’s usual timeframe, being able to show an exact number, culled from thousands (or millions) of pieces of data provides better affirmation to a client that they are not forgotten. Even better, preparing your client ahead of time with this available information, even at an initial consultation, can help relieve their worries about what’s to come.

Now with Litigation Analytics, you can use data to demonstrate that the wait is nothing but the usual course of court processes, not necessarily a cause for concern. By searching across a vast number of dockets, Litigation Analytics quickly presents a visual chart you can share with your clients to inform them of the average time to rule or time to trial by judge and/or case type.

Research can take a chunk out of a client’s budget. Unfortunately, clients don’t always expect or see the value in it. They’re rarely excited to see a bill for five hours of research when they don’t understand the need for it.

Litigation Analytics helps to relieve some of those concerns about research costs, and allows you to quickly prepare your client with a better budget estimate because of the ability to do more sophisticated research on projects that used to take hours.

An easy way to begin planning a budget for a case is knowing how long that case is likely to take from complaint to completion. Once your judge is assigned, or you know your court, simply view the average time to outcome – from the shortest number of days for your case type and/or desired outcome, to the longest period it has ever taken a similar case to complete. The more granularly you filter your results, the more precise your estimates can be.

This can also help you advise your client on best practices. If you’re 400 days into litigation on a motor vehicle personal injury case in the Southern District of New York, and the trial has recently completed, your client may begin calling to find out how long it will be until the jury verdict will be delivered.

In Litigation Analytics, you can not only find out how long an average Jury Verdict outcome takes in SDNY (555 days), but also that verdicts exclusive to the plaintiff tend to take almost 150 days longer than a verdict exclusive to a defendant. You can also see a full range – jury verdicts for motor vehicle personal injury actions in SDNY take anywhere from 440 days to 665 days from start to finish. At 400 days into litigation, your client’s budget may not survive intact if they begin calling every three days to figure out the status. But by educating your client with this information ahead of time, you can prevent that kind of time usage and help keep their case within budget.

Litigation Analytics not only provides a great way to plan your litigation strategy, but also a way to better manage your relationship with your clients - making you more efficient and more competitive. With this advanced Westlaw Edge feature, you’ll be able to provide transparency in an evolving legal world, showcase your personal analytics to prove your value, show clients hard data to set expectations around timelines, and address common budget concerns.

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