Imagine you’re on a cross-country road trip, and instead of navigating with a map, navigational choices include only the following options:
- An alphabetical list of cities near your route;
- A list of cities near your route, sorted by population; and
- Either of the lists above, plus basic filtering options (distance, city size, etc.)
You’d probably cancel your trip with that kind of navigational system. Though each of these pieces of information are extremely important, in isolation their utility is limited. This is exactly the problem with legal research today. To improve the legal research process, we’re big fans of using data visualization. Data visualization allows you to: (1) better understand the legal landscape, (2) mitigate the risk of missing a diamond in the haystack, and (3) improve your personal efficiency.
Understand the entire legal landscape
When looking at a visual map of related cases, much like when using an interstate roadmap, one can easily identify the important cases (destination cities), how they connect to each other via citation (highways), and major outliers (off-route tourist traps).
When you are new to an area of law – or even if you’re researching a familiar area of law, but it is in an unfamiliar jurisdiction – it is critical for you to get your bearings straight before doing anything else. Data visualization allows you to understand how each case written on a particular topic relates to all other cases on that topic; most importantly data visualization allows you to immediately identify important cases (whether they be precedent setting seminal cases or outliers).
Mitigate the risk of missing a needle in the haystack
How likely do you think it is that you are missing a diamond in the haystack with today’s legal research tools? All you have to ask yourself is how often you read past case #20 on the search result list. In our experience talking with associates, associates duly recognize that in an ideal world they would have an understanding of the full body of cases on a particular topic but that with the realistic anchor on their time they are in far from an ideal world. This is where next generation data visualization comes in. Data visualization replaces arbitrary stopping points and helps attorneys verify that they’ve conducted an exhaustive search of the relevant case law. Instead of scrolling through the list of 100 cases, you see an interrelated map of all of these cases. At a cursory glance you can make sure you aren’t missing any relevant, recent, or otherwise important cases.
Increase your personal efficiency
It is extremely tedious and time consuming to navigate a list of 100 cases on any given topic. Data visualization reduces wasted hours by quickly pointing you to relevant law and putting you in a position to intelligently go about your research.
Whether you’re navigating a research trail or a real trail, there are few better ways to get a lay of the land than by using a map. That’s why at Ravel, we’ve mapped the law. Lawyers need a map now more than ever to navigate relevant case law. Try Ravel today.
Getting to be a law firm associate is no joke. To have beaten the industry odds and get a job as an associate you have to have excelled at law school (preceded by excellence at the undergraduate level) and made it through the bar exam. One of the biggest challenges for law firm management today is to make sure they are maximizing the productivity of these individuals and placing them in a position to continue excelling. A key to succeeding on the job is on-the-job training; in fact this might be one of the most unique aspects of being a law firm associate, as opposed to having a job in another industry. Looking across law firms of various sizes, there are three common threads that emerge which lead to maximum associate success.
Evolve Your Training Protocol
The historical practice of “sit with Sarah and see how she does it” is failing associates all over the country. It’s decentralized and isn’t systematic. One of the things we hear most when we talk with associates is their hope and need for better training. In other industries, superior results have been produced by equipping junior employees with tools that allow them to see “the bigger picture.” Giving junior employees a better vantage point into how what they are doing fits into the broader demands of the job is a great way to ramp up associates and get them through the difficult transition of moving from law school to law firm. It’s time we throw associates into the deep end with a life jacket.
It’s critical to develop a culture where it’s okay to ask questions. Often the first step to developing this type of culture is for junior employees to have confidence that the question they are asking “is not a stupid question.” We have found when talking with associates that when they are able to get past the questions they may feel are stupid, they are more open in talking to senior staff and ultimately accelerating the learning curve and performance trajectory. In the absence of questions and coaching, the environment becomes stressful for all employees and the ultimate loser in this situation is the firm.
Technology in the hands of a well-trained employee makes a good associate great, and a great associate a superstar. There are many great technologies that firms can adopt, and by developing a culture where attorneys are aware of these tools and can have a voice in adopting these tools, firms will see a substantial gain in associate productivity.
Advancing your firm’s training, culture and tools requires active effort–it won’t happen on its own. In a competitive environment, the incentives to innovate are strong, and more firms are catching on. Set your litigation team up withRavel trial access to see how the right tools can help your litigation associates become more productive.