Competence & Legal Analytics

Rule 1.1 requires lawyers to provide clients with competent representation.  Per the rule, “[c]ompetent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.”

Comment [5] indicates that competence “includes inquiry into and analysis of the factual and legal elements of the problem, and use of methods and procedures meeting the standards of competent practitioners.  It also includes adequate preparation.”

Last December, citing Moneyball, I wondered whether Rule 1.1 soon will require lawyers to scout judges.  The post references Ravel Law’s “Court Analytics,” a tool that, among other things, enables lawyers to research the cases & authorities that a particular judge finds most persuasive and cites to most often.

The use of a data-driven legal analytics continues to grow.

This morning, I came across Above The Law’s Profiles in Innovation: An Interview with Owen Byrd of Lex Machina.

Lex Machina recently launched a platform that brings legal analytics to federal commercial litigation.  Here’s an excerpt from Byrd’s interview with Above The Law:

  • We now have a system that captures every federal case with a breach of contract claim, a business tort claim, or both. 

    This lets us give commercial litigators incredible insights about those cases — for example, how often a certain judge decides contract breach cases, how she tends to resolve them, how long such cases typically take from filing to resolution, and which law firms and lawyers have appeared — and prevailed — most frequently before that judge.”

Would having this information sound like “adequate preparation” that is “reasonably necessary for the representation?  Let me ask it another way: if you don’t have the information, what will your response be when a client complains that you didn’t?

As I mentioned, for now, Lex Machina is focused on federal commercial litigation. However, as you’ll see in the interview, it won’t be long until similar analytics are available on a state-law level and in a wide range of practice areas.

As technology evolves, so does a lawyer’s duty of competence.

Legal Analytics




3 thoughts on “Competence & Legal Analytics

  1. I think the standards could be articulated better. A “reasonably necessary” competence standard should be replaced with “competence consistent with contemporary knowledge and accessible technology”.



  2. Years ago I was talking to a lawyer who practiced in a court that used a simple rotation for assigning cases. His practice, and he believed it was ethically required, was to go to the clerk’s office on the day he was going to file a case and sit there and wait until the next judge up was someone he knew would be sympathetic to the case. He might spend the entire day sitting and waiting if it was a slow day.

    I was hard put to say why he was wrong.


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