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The legal industry could use watchdogs, like politics has, of the accuracy of numbers cited

Two websites are particularly well known for analyzing politician’s statements for accuracy, FactCheck and PolitiFact. Reading about them in the Economist, Nov. 26, 2011 at 43, I found myself wishing there were equivalents for articles about law department management (or blogs, for that matter). In some measure I have cast myself in that role. When facts or benchmarks regarding legal departments come to my attention, one of my first reactions questions the believability and accuracy of whatever is asserted. Hardly credulous, more like a pain-in-the neck quant pedant, it troubles me when numbers are tossed around carelessly. Even if a number sounds right, was the methodology for arriving at it sound?

Surveys by interested parties leak the most, but other times writers seize on a number and don’t bother to confirm it against other sources or to poke at it for even surface plausibility. A vivid and disturbing example is all the guesstimation of the size of the U.S. legal market.

The article recommends crowdsourcing tools, comment boxes for online articles, retractions and corrections by the publication, as well as “Standardisation – of data sources, measures of factual reliability, and platforms for sharing information.” I’m all for that and I hope this blog contributes to clarity and reliability in the facts about the legal industry.

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