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3 Focus Areas to Transform Your Legal Career

Daniel Pelc

Let’s be frank: most of us didn’t go to law school with a burning desire to tackle big data challenges or find the smoking gun email to bring to the negotiating table. But times have changed.

The practice of law—like everything else—is becoming intertwined with the growth of data. Data helps virtually everyone do their jobs better. Lawyers—who serve every field in one way or another—are no exception.

Across industries, massive amounts of data are created every day. Some of this data is helpful; some is extraneous or of unknown value. This data wave began building momentum years ago. By now, there’s no escaping it. So, are you riding the wave or getting swept away?

Start surfing by exploring a few key ways in which data is making the biggest impact on the legal world.

#1: Proactive Data Analysis

Your data has a story to tell. Are you listening? It could make or break your next case.

A modern e-discovery review can—and should—be so much more than a reactive response. By simply starting at email 1 and reading to email 10,000, you could miss clues lying just beneath the surface. Your client’s data can provide you with a clearer view into your litigation strategy and uncover hotspots for future trouble. The right e-discovery strategy will potentially make data your best friend instead of just an enemy to overcome.

That strategy begins with steps like early case assessment to drown out the noise—or, take it a step farther and start examining data before litigation arises to understand risk and perform responsible information governance. There are a range of tools and techniques available to help focus your efforts around the information you don’t yet know.

Take a Deeper Dive at Relativity Fest: Attend “Look Beneath the Surface: Using Proactive Data Analysis To Find What's Hidden

#2: Artificial Intelligence

Industry after industry is being revolutionized by AI. Those who are waiting to see the impact of AI on the legal world are already missing it.

Back in 2015, a court decision blurred what it means to practice law. The consequence of this decision also blurred the lines between human and machine when it comes to the practice of law—and it’s having an impact. The emergence of AI in its many forms doesn’t mean that men and women will be completely replaced by machines anytime soon, but it is already changing the game when it comes to legal innovation and emerging technology.

For example, the use of AI in applications for e-discovery and other types of data review is well known. But did you know it’s also being used to predict legal outcomes and automate other work? That’s freeing up attorneys to course correct on strategy early, and focus on the tasks that need a truly human touch.

Take a Deeper Dive at Relativity Fest: Attend “Will Artificial Intelligence Supplant the Practice of Law?” (submitted for CLE accreditation)

#3: Proportionality

The data wave has both a legal and a technical component. While proactive data analysis and AI focus on the technical, proportionality has roots on the legal side. Still, tackling it well requires a strong grasp of both the technical and the legal intricacies of your data.

The pursuit of proportionality is based on a need to be resourceful and strategic, which means both technical know-how and a quick legal wit are key. Today’s most successful attorneys have a well-rounded skill set in these areas, which help them approach cases with an efficient mindset as well as a winning strategy. In the current landscape more than ever, having a solid grasp of both will win over clients.

Competency in this area requires following emerging case law as well as understanding how the right tools and techniques can help you put case data to good use.

Take a Deeper Dive at Relativity Fest: Attend “Is Proportionality Really Happening?” (submitted for CLE accreditation) and “Practical Guidance for Lawyers and Lit Support: Winning Case Strategies with Proportionality

Bonus: Sharpen Your Focus with Personal (and Team) Development Opportunities

Developing the hard skills is one thing; acquiring the soft skills that will help you apply them to affect real career growth is another. Take advantage of networking opportunities that will help you build professional muscle, pursue certifications and other types of formal recognition to prove you know your stuff, and work hard to develop the kind of team that will support each member’s quest to keep improving.

Take a Deeper Dive at Relativity Fest: Attend “The Plight of the Lawyer Technologist,” “e-Discovery Certifications: Why, Which, and in What Order,” and “Making the Team: How One Law Firm Supercharged e-Discovery”—all part of the professional development track at this year’s show

Your—and your colleagues’—ability to ride the data wave will be the difference between success and failure, and a key indicator of your firm’s strength in a highly competitive space. Get started.

Browse the Relativity Fest Session Catalog for More Lessons

Daniel Pelc was a senior manager of industry marketing at Relativity. He is now director of client solutions and integration at NightOwl.