We're surrounded by unorganized, unstructured data: old case files, public records, mountains upon metaphorical mountains of electronically stored information, and even the emoticons in your emails. This data can be mined for valuable information. That, at least, is the promise of "big data," that data with low information density, but huge volume can be organized and analyzed for important legal insights.
And it's already happening. Here are five of FindLaw's top posts on how big data is affecting the legal industry today.
Your firm might not have as much data to sift through as, say, Google, but it does have plenty of information that can be analyzed. Scanning not-yet-digitized documents can create a wealth of digital data that can be examined to increase understanding of best practices. Email can be analyzed to see if clients are satisfied. And, perhaps best of all, big data analytics might help you get through all that eDiscovery a bit more quickly.
The use of big data and analytics in the legal industry is on the rise. But, even as the market grows, some firms are wary of big data's promises. When it comes to the specifics of litigation and legal practice, should firms put their faith in data?
Tracking judges is hardly revolutionary. But analytics are making that tracking more legitimate and reliable, allowing lawyers to take into account all of a judge's cases and even pulling lessons from the minutiae of trial.
The growth of the Internet of Things -- that collection of web-enabled devices, from smart thermostats to fitness trackers to medical devices -- means there is now more data on consumers and consumer behavior than ever before. Now, federal and state regulators are putting pressure on data companies to handle that data with care.
Law enforcement, in cooperation with major companies, is now turning to data to fight crime. One recent effort brought together prosecutors, government agencies, and financial institutions to look at how financial data can be used to identify potential human trafficking, opening up a new front in the "data war" against human rights violations.