An Unfair Advantage? Big Data Yields Surprising Results in Litigation

Artificial intelligence and big data produce interesting results in lawsuits. An unfair advantage in litigation?

On March 1st 2014, Alvin Benton Esq. won case #2013-CA-008850-O in Orange County, Florida before Hon.Margaret Schreiber. The analysts at legal analytics firm, Premonition LLC (, weren’t surprised. “It’s the 32nd time in a row that he’s won in front of her.”, CIO, Toby Unwin, explained. Can the results of litigation be predicted in advance based solely on the Attorney and who they are appearing in front of ? “Not entirely” Unwin explains, “but it has approximately a 30% influence. Over the course of several cases it adds up to significant savings for clients.”

Premonition has a unique database that pulls records directly from individual Courthouses and pools them where they can be analyzed. “That in itself is a breakthrough”, CEO, Guy Kurlandski explains. “Until now, unless you had a Federal, or appealed case, there was no central system for searching cases, so you had to find 99% of them by hand at individual court houses around the country. Premonition can search many courts simultaneously.” Data like this can produce interesting results. Using advanced algorithms to spot trends, Kurlandski claims the system usually finds at least one outlier, like Benton, before each Judge. “We had a client in Reno, Nevada. After crunching the data on over 15,000 cases we found an Attorney with 22 straight wins before that Judge. The next Lawyer down was at 7. On closer examination we found a lot of anomalies with that Attorney/ Judge pairing these things are more common than you might think.”

"We believe data driven litigation is a game changer. It's amazing that law as an industry hasn't had these kind of metrics applied to it before. Better litigators means fewer losses, means lower premiums. It's an exciting area"

Donald MacDonald, Managing Director, Guy Carpenter, UK

How good are Attorneys ? “It’s a complicated question. They themselves don’t know and it differs per Judge.” says Unwin. “We’ve found that peer recognition and billing rate aren’t correlated with Courtroom success. The top UK law firms consistently re-hire proven losers because, until now, nobody’s been keeping score.”

“Alvin Benton is only an Associate at Holland & Knight, yet he’s the best Lawyer there for certain Judges. However, if you called the firm and asked for their best Attorney for Judge Schreiber, they’d probably give you a Senior Partner at vastly higher rates who isn’t even top 100 before that Judge. It sounds crazy to say, but law firms (that aren’t clients) don’t even know how good their own people are, let alone the Attorneys and Judges they’re up against.” Unwin says.

Former Insurance defence attorney, Brett Schlacter, agrees “Facts and law have lost too many times.” , “As objective as Judges try to be, at the end of the day they’re human and the quality of the Advocate definitely makes a difference.”

How are insurers using Premonition ? “We believe data driven litigation is a game changer”, Guy Carpenter, UK Managing Director, Donald McDonald, explains “It’s amazing that law as an industry hasn’t had these kind of metrics applied to it before. Better litigators means fewer losses, means lower premiums. It’s an exciting area” he continues. “We’re also exploring using Premonition’s general Court data in areas like Medical Malpractice. 35% of malpractice claims come from repeat litigants, so why not screen them out at the beginning? We’re exploring programs with drastically reduced premiums for clients that litigate intelligently.” McDonald Continues. 

“You have to hire an Attorney anyway, why not hire a good one ?” Kurlandski asks. “Many insurers track their internal Counsel results, but have no idea when it comes to outside Counsel, or new geographic areas. Premonition offers what some are calling a very, very unfair advantage in litigation, i.e. putting the right Attorney before the right Judge”.


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