Making open legal data valuable for lawyers and legal professionals requires automation and artificial intelligence to gather data in bulk and clean, structure, and analyze it, so it can be leveraged for more effective business development and intelligence.
We’re excited to share the second installment in our open legal data series published in Attorney at Work that was authored by UniCourt’s CEO, Josh Blandi. In his first article, Why Does Open Data Matter and How Can It Increase Access to Justice?, Josh discussed the importance of open data for the legal profession and the public at large, and why the Georgia v. Public Resource Supreme Court case is critical for moving the open legal data movement forward.
In the second article of the series, How Automation and AI Make Open Data Possible and Valuable for Lawyers, Josh details the “how” of making legal data available and useful by describing automation’s role in obtaining bulk access to data and by sharing practical examples of how normalization makes analyzing legal data for business development and intelligence possible.
Here below is an excerpt from the introduction of Josh’s article:
With significant advancements in automation and artificial intelligence, it’s easier than ever for attorneys to gather and analyze legal data to gain powerful business development and intelligence insights. This article is the second in a three-part series discussing the what, how and why of open legal data.
In the first part, we discussed what open data is and what it can do to improve access to justice and strengthen attorneys’ practices. We also discussed that, while advancements in automation and AI are beginning to turn legal data into open data to make it more useful, ultimately the Supreme Court needs to resolve the unanswered question of whether — and how — myriad forms of legal data will be made openly accessible to spark further changes in legal services delivery models.
Now, we turn to the “how” of open legal data, diving into what it takes to bring legal data into the public sphere in a way that is organized, accessible and useful. We’ll start by exploring why bulk access to legal data is necessary and how automation plays a central role in collecting and aggregating. Then, we look at how normalization helps make legal data more useful, and how lawyers can leverage it for business development and intelligence.
Bulk Access to Legal Data
Real open access to legal data means bulk access. Making legal data meaningful for accurate analysis requires access to more than just a handful of records. It requires access to millions of documents and billions of data points, which can only feasibly be achieved with automation. To illustrate, let’s take an example familiar to most attorneys: accessing court data.
As an individual attorney in a solo practice or small law firm, it’s virtually impossible to manually download all the court filings and raw data points needed to reach the critical mass for establishing patterns and deriving insights from court data. And while a few court systems provide bulk access to the data in their repositories for a fee, almost none provide bulk access to the documents connected to court cases. As such, the only way to gather enough court data for producing viable analysis is through some automated process to pull the data in a systematic fashion.
For a lawyer interested in developing the code to automate gathering the data from just one court portal, it can be a very daunting task, given the need to continually update the code whenever the portal adjusts its search parameters and key fields. But when considering the resources, infrastructure and sophistication needed to obtain data from hundreds of court portals to achieve bulk access, it’s no longer a realistic endeavor for a solo practitioner or small firm to pursue on their own. Luckily, there are now multiple legal technology companies (including, but definitely not limited to, our team at UniCourt) that have automated the process of aggregating legal data in bulk, so attorneys don’t have to.
However, even once we’ve achieved bulk access, we’re not done yet. Automating the process of gathering legal data is only the first step, as it still needs to be cleaned and structured before being made useful for attorneys.
You can read the full article here on Attorney at Work.