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More progress toward the empirical turn for law department management

Having a big dog in the fight, as a compiler of law department benchmarks on staffing and spending, it’s gratifying to find others who struggle against the darkness that devalues management metrics. As more data about processes and outcomes in corporate law departments become available, it will become clear that evidence-supplemented management surpasses instinct, anecdote, fingers crossed, and selective memory. Hence, it was exciting to read in Law Tech. News, June 2012 at 54, about some instances of quantitative legal prediction in the law.

LTN quotes Daniel Katz, an assistant professor at Michigan State University College of Law, who has done research on statistics and legal data. The article also dwells on the Real Rate Report of CT TyMetrix and possible extensions of that company’s initiative (See my post of June 2, 2010: hourly rates of US partners from the Report; June 3, 2010: “standard billing rate” is illusory; Jan. 19, 2012: U.S. litigation firms charged a blended rate of $385 an hour; Jan. 23, 2012: clear data on the rising rates of law firms as they grow larger; and Jan. 19, 2012: gaps between average billing rates of U.S. litigation associates and partners.).

The article then moves to the Harlan Institute which analyzes Supreme Court decisions and allows crowd-sourcing predictions about upcoming decisions (See my post of March 22, 2011: crowd-sourcing game to review invoices.). Lex Machina, a spin-off from the Stanford University IP Litigation Clearinghouse, gets some coverage as it has organized and scrubbed data from 128,000 IP cases, 134,000 attorney records, 1,399 judges and other data from the past decade. Joshua Walker, the co-founder of Lex Machina, explains that the database is available for public interest research and for a fee.

The article did not mention Sky Analytics, which has also announced that it is analyzing law firm billing data on behalf of law departments or Thomson Reuters Serengeti and its Serengeti Intelligence offering (See my post of Oct. 14, 2011: Rob Thomas mentions the recent release.).

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