An interesting article (available through Law360) by Charlie Morgan at Herbert Smith Freehills on how data analytics is being used in International Arbitration now and in the future. Data is key to International Arbitration as it is for any dispute. When we think about what type of data would be important, we are immediately drawn to the usual suspects: emails, user generated office documents and paper. They are all examples of unstructured data, although structured data can be of equal importance to help understand the facts around the dispute.
Data is a metric of every aspect of an organisation and forms the backbone of its business processes. When we start planning for a dispute, we shouldn't limit ourselves to either unstructured or structured data, but rather focus on how different data sources can be used to complement each other.
When it comes to the running of the business, it's the structured data sets that contain the detailed day to day information we are interested in, which can provide the supporting information required in a dispute. The true value in working with structured data lies in the power of being able to perform complex data analysis over hundreds of millions of transactions in a short period of time.
Structured data flows through all business-critical processes from something as complex as an inventory management system or through a series of Microsoft Excel spreadsheets recording the same information. When it comes to disputes, valuable insights can be gained from the data that sits in these business applications.
Legal tech has already transformed the manner in which data analytics is performed in arbitration in the interests of efficiency and effectiveness, and in the future, new technologies and new applications of existing technologies will only disrupt the arbitral process further. Understandably, there is some resistance to such change from lawyers, who fear radical changes in how the law is practiced, and at worst, their jobs being rendered obsolete. Not too long ago, similar fears were prompted by legal research moving from books to computers. However, the advent of computers has only made lawyers better and more effective at their jobs, instead of reducing the demand for skilled and talented lawyers. Similarly, improvements in legal tech will not make the judgement and expertise of lawyers obsolete. However, those lawyers who embrace, instead of resist, these changes will gain a competitive advantage, by representing clients in a more cost-effective manner and tailoring their advocacy to the relevant audience. Further, the adoption of these technologies will generate new kinds of disputes, which will keep lawyers (and their artificially intelligent assistants) busy for years to come.