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3 ways to better set client expectations with litigation analytics

 
Rachel Beithon
Reference Attorney

If you spend a few minutes searching for the impact of big data and artificial intelligence on the legal profession, you’ll see a surfeit of articles addressing how data is “impacting,” “disrupting,” and “transforming” the legal profession. No matter which synonym you prefer, there is little doubt that a revolution is under way in the legal industry. Data—good data—and its resulting analytics have become essential to the advancement of law.

Litigators can reap the benefits of data and analytics when it comes to creating thoughtful litigation strategy and setting expectations for clients. Client communication and expectation management can be two of the biggest hassles of practicing law, but they are also the best differentiators from your competition when done right.

In the past, providing clear answers to clients about case strategy, timelines, and budgets could take hours of research time and/or require intimate familiarity with every case in a court and experience in front of a particular judge. Even then, proving value and accuracy to clients could be difficult. Data and analytics provide insight into litigation in new ways, bestowing intimate knowledge of the litigation process upon attorneys, so they can better anticipate the flow of litigation.

Technology driven by artificial intelligence, backed up by voluminous, dependable data, is changing the client management landscape. Litigation Analytics on Westlaw Edge gives you a concise way to explain 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.

1. Be transparent about case strategy

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 now; 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.

2. Set timeline expectations using hard data

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.

3. Address budget concerns

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 (966 days), but also that verdicts exclusive to the defendant tend to take 76 days longer than a verdict exclusive to a plaintiff. You can see a full range of possible times to outcome – most jury verdicts for motor vehicle personal injury actions in SDNY take anywhere from 440 days to 906 days from start to finish, with 667 days as the mean for all of these outcomes. 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.

Conclusion

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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