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Can Data Analytics Help Improve Your Trial Prep?

You're probably familiar with how data analytics can speed up the eDiscovery process, helping attorneys quickly review documents for responsiveness. You may have heard about how "big data" can be mined to improve law firm practices, helping lawyers monitor clients and improve their efficiency. You probably also know of legal tech companies who are mining data in order to make legal services and research faster, better, and more automated. In sum, there's a lot that data analytics can do for lawyers.

But can data analytics help you in trial prep as well?

Using Analytics Beyond Discovery

The answer, of course, is yes. At least according to Dean Gaida, a managing director with FTI Consulting Technology. Writing in Corporate Counsel, Gaida declares that "One of the biggest, yet untapped advantages the digital age has brought to the legal world is access to technology and electronic evidence during the trial preparation stage of a legal matter."

Those millions of documents produced during discovery? Analytics technology can add to their utility well after the production period, Gaida explains. By using the same analytics techniques applied during production, lawyers can "quickly identify key facts to assist with preparing for depositions or simply to support court presentations."

Greater Insight in Less Time

Gaida identifies three main areas where analytics can aid lawyers post-discovery and pre-trial: deposition prep, case strategy, and assessing damages.

In terms of deposition prep, analytics can be used to review the (often massive amounts of) produced material pertaining to individuals to be deposed, quickly narrowing it down to key facts:

This includes understanding key communications involving the individual, who the person communicated with and other activities that may be relevant. This level of detail-and the ability to access the information in real time as new topics or themes become more important than others-ensures counsel is prepared for anything the opposing side might try.

When it comes to case strategy, analytics can be used to help cull "bad" documents, Gaida explains. "With the flexibility of analytics tools," he writes, "attorneys can also quickly pivot their approach to different arguments in the instant they find the documents don't support their initial approach, or if the documents provide the opposing side with strong counter points."

Finally, attorneys can turn to analytics to assess potential damages and inform decisions about how to proceed in a matter.

Of course, embracing an analytics-based approach isn't a simple task. You'll need experts who understand both analytics technology and the legal industry. That often means bringing in qualified third-party specialists or, for the largest firms and in-house legal departments, developing your own, sophisticated internal tech teams. But, to the extent that analytics can allow for greater insight in less time, those efforts could be worth it.

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