Bloomberg Law
Nov. 14, 2022, 2:00 AM

ANALYSIS: Legal Industry, Make Room for the Data Experts in 2023

Stephanie Pacheco
Stephanie Pacheco
Legal Analyst
Princess Onyiri
Princess Onyiri
Research and Data Analyst

More than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced daily, yet the legal industry has traditionally been hesitant to incorporate much of that data into the practice of law. The complexities and the initial costs of working with data likely fuel many attorneys’ apprehensions about embedding data use into their practice. Fortunately for them, data experts do exist for the legal profession to lean on.

Some firms and legal departments have already seen the value of incorporating data experts into their everyday practice of law—even if their data staff only include a couple of experts—and we expect to see more of this in 2023.

Data-Dedicated Staff in Law Today

In Bloomberg Law’s most recent State of Practice Survey, 316 attorneys—both in-house and at law firms—were asked whether their practice has staff dedicated to data-focused work. More than one-quarter of the respondents reported that their organization currently has data-focused staff—meaning that a majority reported that their organization does not.

And about two-thirds of those reporting no data-focused staff said that their organization has no plans to hire personnel with data expertise.

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Legal Industry in the Dark Without Data Staff

Leveraging data is still an emerging concept in the legal industry, so it’s not necessarily shocking how many attorneys said that their organizations have no plans to hire data experts.

But the main reason given for this inaction—there’s no need for data expertise—is concerning, given how data-centric society has become.

And while the second- and third-most selected reasons for not hiring data personnel (cost and client demands) are valid concerns, the use of analytics like budget-to-spend, efficiency, and ROI measures can result in cost-savings, which make clients happy.

This inability of attorneys to see past the way things have always been done will continue to impede innovation efforts in the practice of law. Luckily, there are already firms and legal departments breaking down these barriers and embracing change.

Some Attorneys Have Seen the Light

Attorneys who reported using data experts at their organization selected multiple areas where these experts are contributing to their practice.

Legal analytics and eDiscovery were each selected by 59% of the respondents; automation and business strategy were each selected by 42% of the respondents.

There’s no avoiding technology’s encroachment into the legal industry. As a result, spending on legal tech is expected to drastically increase, and those that are already working with data experts are at an advantage when it comes to evaluating the technology in which they invest.

Additionally, with an economic downturn looming, companies will likely be reevaluating their needs and turning to analytics for help. Those organizations that haven’t yet hired data-focused staff, and don’t currently have plans to, might now look to data experts to help resolve inefficiencies. But organizations already working with data teams have seen the benefits, according to survey data.

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Adding data staff to a legal organization is a winning decision: Lawyers who already have such personnel overwhelmingly reported that they’re helpful to their practice and to the organization as a whole.

This encouraging feedback underscores the need for this skill set to be embedded in the legal industry.

The Future of Data Experts in Law Looks Bright

With the amount of data consumed by society growing daily and the changing landscape of the practice of law, the legal industry’s need for data experts is paramount. But Bloomberg Law survey data suggests that we may only be at the beginning of a trend, and that we may see more firms and legal departments hire data experts in 2023.

Firms with data-focused personnel are at the cusp of this trend, and others should take note and make room for data experts or risk getting left behind.

Access additional analyses from our Bloomberg Law 2023 series here, covering trends in Litigation, Transactional, ESG & Employment, Technology, and the Future of the Legal Industry.

Bloomberg Law subscribers can find related content on our Surveys, Reports, and Data Analysis resource.

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