“Law.com Radar Trend Detection”: Technology That Gives Your Company a Heads-Up on Threatening Patterns in Federal Litigation


The Point

Law.com Radar” is a dry-sounding technology and services combination that could help your company dodge bullets in its litigation exposure.

It combines court data, algorithms, and human expertise to give attorneys a fact-based heads-up to management about how their client companies are likely to be treated in court.

This Matters to Your Business

First, before taking an action on behalf of the corporation, management and their lawyers need to consider the litigation risk that the action might pose to the business. Knowing the letter of the law is a necessary beginning, but it’s not sufficient to answer the question: “How likely are we to face a lawsuit if we do this?

That question calls for an understanding of how litigants, judges, and regulators have responded in court to similar actions in the recent past.

Second, although no attorney can answer the “how likely” question with certainty, some answers from legal counsel are more helpful than others.

If the attorney has a proven track record in the industry, geographic region, or legal issue implicated by the proposed action, then “based on my experience” likely has some real value.

But it’s better if even the most accomplished veteran in a given industry, geographic region, or legal issue can offer specific, recent instances of litigation to support their judgment.

That’s where “Law.com Radar” comes in.

It uses a proprietary algorithm that incorporates the “Mann-Kendall trend test” and other statistical measures. This detects statistically significant decreasing or increasing instances of a trend in long term temporal data.

Jean O’Grady, Venable LLP law firm’s Director of Research, is one of 5 or 6 individuals who I view as the best in the business at evaluating effectiveness, and explaining how-to’s to practicing attorneys, of legal technologies. Here’s how she describes what “Law.com Radar” does:

“The Radar Trend Scale measures the intensity and business significance based on a score of 1 to 10. Factors contributing to the trend scale include case count Z score, Sen’s Slope and degree of changes, statistical confidence, business impact and the existence of a directional pattern.”

To be sure, this obscure terminology is accessible only to data scientists and statisticians. But Jean O’Grady then explains their practical import for lawyers and their corporate clients.

“Here is what the trend scores mean:

  • Scores of 1, 2, or 3 indicate ‘be aware
  • Score of 4 to 6 indicates ‘pay attention’
  • Score 7 to 10 warns ‘take action‘. A pattern is clearly evident and may have some significant impact on a practice area or industry sector.”

Because …

Lawyers advising management now have a fact-based algorithmic and statistical foundation upon which to counsel their corporate clients about the litigation risks of a future course of action. Until now we have had mere hunches. Experience-based (and expensive) hunches — but mere hunches nonetheless. This technology enables the legal profession to do better by accessing and analyzing data from the federal litigation system.

When I was a boy, my airplane pilot father stressed the importance of flight instruments for reliable data on altitude, airspeed, and the aircraft’s attitude. Dad contrasted those flight instruments’ accuracy with the false confidence afforded by seat-of-the-pants impressions. Like aircraft instruments, Law.com Radar enables attorneys to supplement traditional seat-of-the-pants instincts with a more trustworthy reading of the actual data. So that the managers those attorneys advise can base their decisions on facts — not merely what their lawyer’s “gut” tells them.

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