www.nlj.com“Big Data,” a name for new data-analysis technologies as well as a movement to develop real-world uses for these capabilities, holds big promise. With regard to the practice of law, the impact of these technologies on electronic discovery is likely the first practical application that comes to mind. Managing the burdens of the information explosion, including volumes of data that made manual review impractical, expensive, and less effective than necessary, was the last paradigm shift in the practice. With Big Data tools, the focus turns from managing the burden of large amounts of information to leveraging its value. See, e.g., John Markoff, “Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software,” N.Y. Times, March 4, 2011.

Another practical application of Big Data will be to predict the outcome of disputes with a greater level of accuracy and granularity than now possible. In one interesting study, new insights into the U.S. Supreme Court’s jurisprudence were revealed through modeling and animating the cases the Court relied upon in its opinions over time. See Computational Legal Studies, “The Development of Structure in the Citation Network of the United States Supreme Court — Now in HD!.”

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