Peter Kwan, Jeremy Tilsner and Louis Konig in our US team here at A&M talk about the increasingly important nature of structured data in this useful article here on Law 360. It’s a really insightful read so I urge you to take a look.

My colleagues contend that the role of structured data in the legal context has often been “overlooked, underappreciated or at best secondary to its unstructured data counterpart that includes emails, files and agreements.” I couldn’t agree more with this. There is often a push on an investigation to look at emails and communications first and structured data often gets left behind or left to the internal accounts team to do on the internal systems, producing reports and summaries that can then be reviewed. This is not always the best solution. This can lead to a number of problems, including not obtaining enough granular data is obtained and leaving some issues hidden if the internal reporting does not reveal them. A better approach is to start from the ground up with a low-level data analytical approach, where that is possible and feasible.

In this article, Peter, Jeremy and Louis argue that structured data has a much larger role to play, potentially enabling parties in civil litigation to realise efficiencies without losing accuracy. This provides a number of advantages to a case, including:

Having more confidence in the findings and conclusions the data drives to as you have built models from the ground up using source data, rather than summary management reports or summaries.

It enables 100% of the data to be incorporated into the approach and modelling needed to form opinions and views on a case rather than a sample approach. Therefore, I would argue it can often improve the accuracy as well as drive efficiencies.

It can discover any issues or problems that are inherent within the data, the reporting or the use/understanding of the systems. In some of the cases I have worked on there have been deliberate actions taken to conceal data in reporting which were revealed through the detailed analysis.

Ultimately structured data can be as valuable (if not more valuable) than unstructured data in some cases and therefore analysing it thoroughly and at a granular level can drive many advantages.