Why the Legal Industry should pay attention to Visual Analytics

  • Written By WHISHWORKS
  • 17/11/2021

Data is the oil standard for businesses today and has proved the fastest-growing trend of the global economy. However, lawyers have been on the resisting end. Factors such as lawyer hubris, legal culture, conservatism, and resistance to melding law practice with business have been key factors.

Despite this resistance, legal services consumers are becoming more demanding, wanting legal providers to use data as the basis of recommendation. They expect their legal counsel to be predictive, proactive and holistic, fast and cost-effective.

Data and the ability to interpret it is valuable and can satisfy this growing client demand. There are many articles, reports and books around, showcasing the benefits enjoyed by data-driven organisations, with a common thread around customer acquisition and retention and long-term profitability.

So, why should the legal industry pay attention to visual analytics? Read on.

What is Visual Analytics?

According to Tableau, visual analytics is a means of exploring and understanding data. It uses tools and process to display data in an interactive visual and graphical manner that viewers can easily understand and use. 

Visual analytics solutions include data visualisation tools, dashboards, data source integration software, and collaboration tools.

Visual Analytics in the Legal Industry

Proper investigations and disputes often take a legal team through lots of historical fact-finding, which sometimes spans several years and events and can involve multiple entities. This process takes time, is labour intensive and prone to human error.

“You can have the best [data] model, but if you present it to your users in a way that makes it impossible to consume and understand, it will quickly become an unused asset.”
Scott Springer, HBR Consulting 

With visual analytics, law experts can:

  • Secure good outcomes. Robust analytics uncover how certain courts have ruled cases in the past. Other insights include how long a case might last, as well as helpful analytics about the opposing team.
  • Attract clients. Law firms can quantify their experience against their competitors, performances in past appearances, and client bandwidth. Clients get to know what to expect from their cases.
  • Understand their operations. Visual analytics give a picture of resource deployment and cost control for quick and efficient decision-making.

How Visual Analytics helps unlock legal data

Visual analytics brings together the concept of adding creativity, art and math to make sense of piles of data visually. By transforming data to graphics, it becomes easier to understand.

Legal companies can use the following process to unlock insights from their data.

Visualization of data

The visualisation provides a unique perspective on the dataset. You can visualise data in many different ways:

  • Tables are compelling when you are dealing with a relatively small number of data points.
  • Charts, in general, help you map dimensions in your data to visual properties of geometric shapes.
  • The power of maps is in relating data to the physical world. For instance, a dataset of geo-located crime incidents.

Analysis and Interpretation

Once you have visualised your data, strive to learn from what you’ve developed. Ask yourself:

  • What’s the purpose of this chart/diagram?
  • How has the data assisted me in creating it?
  • What does this chart/diagram communicate? Is it what I anticipated?
  • Is this relevant in the context of my query?
  • What interesting patterns exist?

Transformation of dataset

You might have found some interesting patterns in the dataset, which you now want to inspect in more detail.

Possible transformations are:

  • Zooming: Helps you tone down to a particular part of the data visualisation. 
  • Filtering: Removes data that doesn’t align with your focus
  • Aggregation combines the data into one.
  • Outlier Removal: Eliminates single points not represented in the majority of the data set

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Benefits of Visualization to the Legal Industry

Better customer service

Legal teams can use data to maintain client relationships through tools that provide collaborative and real-time diagramming tools. 

Visualisation tools help law teams go beyond words to communicate complex ideas easily to clients, thus winning trust and expediting cases.

Makes complex ideas easier to understand

Legal transactions can often be complex and resource-intensive. Often, information pertaining to a case is stored across different systems and files, making it cumbersome to get a detailed view and proper understanding of the subject at hand. Such cases demand a methodology that keeps everyone on the same page and reduces the risk of misinformation.

Visual analytics tools help law firms mitigate complexity and streamline communication. Law teams derive detailed and interactive visual models of legal transactions. Paralegals don’t need to spend painstaking hours drawing diagrams using legacy drawing tools with these visualisation tools. Instead, they’ll turn to visual modelling technology for a faster turnaround.

Connecting visuals with legal information

Using Computer-Aided Design (CAD), law teams can mould visuals to provide a detailed view of the legal subject matter at hand, bringing together a balanced view of the contracts, entities, individuals, and assets involved. 

Consequently, lawyers and other stakeholders get the information as a single source of truth and finally understand and clarify complex issues.

Choosing the right Visual Analytics technology

Several tools exist in the market to aid Data Discovery and Visual Analytics. A visual analytics tool should provide the following essential features:

  • Visualisation components include histograms, bar charts, scatter plots, pie charts, treemaps, trellis charts, etc.
  • Ad-hoc data discovery. Analysis can be made interactive via drag-and-drop interactions, as opposed to mere visualisation of data sets.
  • Connect to external data sources like Hadoop, Cloud services, NoSQL and Oracle, etc.
  • Provide alternative approaches to data loading and analysis, whether in-memory (spreadsheets), on-demand (event data streams), or in-database (Hadoop)
  • Geo analytics incorporates geo-location features and location-based analysis, such as location-based clustering, spatial search, and distance/route calculation.
  • Team collaboration without the need for additional third-party tools

How to Adopt a Visual Analytics Approach

Visual analytics technology is no longer an elective option. Legal providers must embrace and utilise them to serve clients effectively.

With visual analytics, you can make more sense of your data and unlock patterns that will provide a competitive edge in legal service delivery.

To adopt visual analytics, a legal organisation needs to:

  • Prioritise data as an asset that legal teams can use in business roles and functions
  • Commit essential resources to your multi-disciplinary team to jumpstart the adoption of the analytics solution. Consider support, training and transformation where necessary.
  • Adopt a scalable, flexible, governable and easy-to-use technology solution.
  • Offer the necessary training, learning, and mentorship geared at improving data management and analysis skills.
  • Reward data adoption by making it a factor in promotion consideration and performance evaluation.

Before however you commit to a specific solution or an overhaul of your processes, we recommend you try a couple of simple use-cases to really understand the value visual analytics can have for your practice. One of the market-leading choices, Tableau, offers a free trial period and might be a good place to start.

If you would like to find out more about how visual analytics can benefit your business, email us at marketing@whishworks.com

Other useful links:

Data visualisation 101

Tableau Visual Analytics

Data & Analytics capabilities

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