Παρασκευή, 26 Μαΐου 2017

Playing the numbers game: 21st Century law will be based on math and data analytics

Playing the numbers game: 21st Century law will be based on math and data analytics



Drew Hasselback
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Lawyering in the 21st century will have a lot to do with math and data analytics Files
As Zev Eigen explains it, the future of law will have a lot to do with math.



Eigen is a lawyer in Los Angeles with Littler Global, a worldwide
firm that focuses on management-side employment law. He’s also a data
scientist with a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He
has combined his expertise to become global director of data analytics
at the law firm.


So Eigen seems to know a thing or two about the kind of math that
sprawls across black boards in a fog of letters and symbols. This is
precisely the scary kind of math that a good number of lawyers fear.


But Eigen says that’s okay. The future of law won’t demand that
lawyers know how to build those equations themselves, he explains. The
future will be about knowing how to benefit from the information such
math can provide.


Eigen is an advocate for the use of data to discover things like
how people collaborate, to predict how a regulator might respond to a
case, or to streamline decision making so lawyers — or perhaps even
machines — can make snap decisions on certain matters.



Lawyers can benefit from this information without having to know how the math behind it works, he explains.


It’s like driving. A car may be a complicated machine, but you
don’t need to be an engineer to know how to drive a car. Eigen wants
lawyers to learn how to “drive” data analytics.


“I’m a big proponent and a big advocate of making sure we’re all good consumers of the information,” Eigen said.


Eigen was a keynote speaker at Lawyering in the 21st Century, a
forum hosted by LexisNexis and Ryerson University’s Legal Innovation
Zone. The event, which took place at Ryerson in Toronto on last week,
was based on the premise that change is coming quickly, and lawyers need
to be ready.


Postmedia Network
Postmedia Network
Lawyers have been comfortable with incremental change, but technology
is empowering consumers to disrupt the profession faster than lawyers
have been used to, said Chris Bentley, executive director of the Legal
Innovation Zone.


“Consumers want what they want, and the way they want it. And
they want it at the price they are prepared to pay,” Bentley said.
“Amazon and Google got big not by serving the richest, but by serving
the rest.”


Change will not come solely in the form of technology, the forum was told.


Ben Heineman, Jr., who was the top in-house lawyer at General
Electric Corp. for about 18 years until he retired in 2005, said a
corporate general counsel must do more than rubber-stamp a CEO’s actions
or a board’s decisions.


He said a GC must also be an outstanding expert, a wise
counsellor and an accountable leader — someone willing to make not just
legal decisions, but also moral judgments.


Heineman said the skill of the future will be knowing where to
land on the decision-making continuum. Some general counsel are
inveterate naysayers, and they risk being excluded from future decision
making, he said. Others are inveterate yeasayers, and they risk being
indicted, he added. “Somewhere between those two extremes is where we
have to operate.”



The forum involved more than sitting and listening. In a design
workshop, participants had to brainstorm ideas for a system or app that
might get people to actually read legal documents before agreeing to
them. In a “Lean Six Sigma” workshop, lawyers had to build a flow chart
of a typical legal task so they could pin point the root cause of a
specific problem or streamline ways to complete the task faster.


But a lot of the future involves math, and some Canadian firms are already diving in.


McMillan LLP, for example, is working with a data scientist to
analyze the firm’s dockets, personnel assignments, timing, and document
flow. The idea is to see if there are ways the firm can more accurately
determine its own costs and margins. “Most law firms have this
information. What they’re not doing is analyzing it systematically,”
says Tim Murphy, a partner with McMillan in Toronto.


Other firms are pursing other forms of innovation. The Toronto
office of Baker & McKenzie LLP has just been chosen to serve as the
firm’s global Innovation Lab for Multidisciplinary Collaboration.


For some, the math underpinning a lot of these developments is
complex, but Eigen insists that lawyers should never be afraid to admit
that they can’t understand it.


Eigen said that before hiring any data scientists, lawyers should
ask them to explain their methods and their math. This could well be an
efficient way to determine just how well they know their stuff.


“They should be able to explain it to you in the same way you are tasked with explaining things to clients,” Eigen said.


Financial Post


dhasselback@nationalpost.com

twitter.com/vonhasselbach

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