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Big Data and the Future of the Legal Industry

As a relatively recent Seal, I am aware I may be still “drinking the Kool-Aid”. We say we are trailblazers and state that we are the market leader in contract discovery and analytics. Often this comes down to semantics, especially for private companies who do not release their numbers publicly. But there is nothing quite like hearing one’s customers describe their success with your technology. The recent Seal Insight Customer series afforded just such an opportunity and it was clear to me after listening to leaders from several Fortune 100 companies that the technology is unmatched and, more importantly, the conversations we engage in are setting the tone for existing industries to evolve and new markets to emerge.

It is no secret that the legal industry is rapidly changing—not only is a technological shift taking place but a change in mindset as well. More and more legal professionals are embracing emerging technologies as a means to increase efficiency and keep pace with the times. Legal Ops departments, law firms, and compliance functions are increasingly abandoning the illusion of certainty and tradition in favor of a more progressive and level playing field. With increased technology adoption, they realize that the measurable value of AI-implementation will not replace their job functions but will complement them.

In a recent High Performance Counsel special issue, David Kinnear brought together some of the brightest minds in legal to discuss the most pressing and notable issues facing the industry. The piece could not have been timelier, as Seal reaffirmed its investment in the legal vertical with the appointment of Julian Tsisin, Vice President, Legal Markets, Office of the CTO and the acquisition of long-time partner, Apogee Legal. One significant trend in the special issue was that of data use. Data is a commodity and as such, it should be handled with the utmost care and consideration. Concerns around data ownership, loss and privacy were raised throughout the #TopOfMind piece, giving way to even more questions about where the legal industry is headed. Seal Software CTO, Kevin Gidney took it one step further by coupling the emergence of technology such as Machine Learning (ML) with the need for unbiased data when assessing model creation and proper information use. “As we move forward, firms are going to need to present auditable model creation and the ability for users or customers to assess where the data they provided is used and allow for its removal if they are unwilling to participate.” [1] Now big data analytics is at play, and if you’re going to leverage Artificial Intelligence, you have to make sure the data is clean.

Here are a few things to consider:

Data Bias

You get out what you put in. In other words, good data is the foundation of good outcomes. The accuracy of any Machine Learning model is only as good the data it consumes. Although most biases result from the dataset itself, it is important to remember that ML algorithms are not infallible. The model learns through trial and error and it takes copious amounts of data to teach the system. The more data, the more accurate the outcome of your AI-platform. Human error is another bias must be considered. Deliberate and unconscious biases can make their way into your model giving you incorrect outputs. Things like prejudice or stereotype bias must be controlled in order to produce viable results. Taking the time to learn the system is just as important as the results that the system achieves. As you adopt new technology, you must make it a priority to understand the data and have systems in place to address bias.

Data Privacy and Security

Legal professionals are in the business of risk mitigation and when it comes to company data, that responsibility should be threefold. As massive data breaches continue to occur in the US and worldwide, it is a wonder that more data privacy legislation has not been passed.The increased responsibility to secure and share sensitive information with vendors whilst ensuring compliance should be reason enough but it has taken the recent publicity of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to prompt many American companies to put proactive policies and procedures in place. By prioritizing data quality and security, you significantly lower the risk of exposure, making it easier to build and maintain trust within the industry.

These are only a few things to take into account as the market continues to shift. The conversation doesn’t stop here, in fact, this is just the beginning. Personally, I’m excited to see where the legal market is headed and equally eager to see how Seal will facilitate the industry’s progression. With thought leaders such as Kevin at our helm, Seal continues to push the boundaries of market disruption. By thinking ahead, we are redefining the landscape and setting the foundation for what it means to be competitive and sustainable.

If you are in the legal industry and exploring emerging technologies role in your practice, I invite you to learn more about how Seal can help facilitate your transformation; or better yet, if you are attending the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Annual Meeting, stop by booth #516 or visit our Classroom Product Showcase on Monday, October 22 at 6:30 pm. The Seal team is eager and excited to discuss the challenges facing your organization and how we might support your transformation journey.

[1]: | Kevin Gidney excerpt