Lex Machina: Bringing Analytics to Law

Peter Neufield is a J.D. student at the Osgoode Hall Law School and the current features editor of the IPOsgoode blog IPilogue. He’s posted a short interview with Owen Byrd, Chief Evangelist & General Counsel at Lex Machina. Lex Machina started life in 2010 as a partnership between Stanford University’s Computer Science Department and the Law School with some great support from a number of “tech companies and law firms.”

During the interview Byrd describes Lex Machina’s approach as similar to the story told in the Michael Lewis book Moneyball. This is the story of the Oakland Athletics baseball team improved their success by applying objective, evidence-based statistical analysis to their decision making processes.

Byrd says Lex Machina is all about bringing “analytics to the law.”

We mine litigation data and then clean, code, tag, and build meta-datasets. This data then enables lawyers to make data-driven decisions in their strategy and tactics that they employ for their cases, transactions, and even for obtaining new clients.”

He advocates though that lawyers will “still need great legal research and legal reasoning skills but analytics supplements those skills.”

Byrd concludes that Lex Machina will continue to be successful because it allows “lawyers to make data-driven decisions and to predict what sort of approaches will affect outcomes and strategies in cases.” It can reduce subconscious biases and provide a more objective base for legal decision making, something Byrd feels “holds the most hope in transforming and improving the practice.”

As part of Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law & Technology Intensive Program Neufield was himself recently at Stanford attending Codex: Stanford Center for Legal Informatics. He’s developing his own legal analytics platform called Econo.Mine which is intended to “improve the drafting of expert testimonies and judicial education in economics so that judges can make better use of the arguments presented to them when deciding cases.”

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