Duty of care as a lawyer towards clients: Can technology help?
Legal services have seen a significant evolution over the past few years. The three major areas of change have been:
Advancement in client-lawyer relationship,
Growing alternate business structures like remote offices and outsourcing, and the
Tectonic shift in integrating technology and artificial intelligence as drivers of the legal practice.
The most significant outcome of this tectonic shift has been the incorporation of technology in organising and analyzing mounts of information and data that is integral to a law practice. Lawyers have at their disposal today data that can help them defend/service their clients better, and ensure that they get a fair trial with the best prosecution and defence possible.
Technology has made their jobs faster, taken out the grunt work and helped them focus on innovation in their arguments, pleas and persuasion strategies.
Technology vis-a-vis human bias
As a lawyer, while preparing for a case, what do you look at? You look at the applicable laws and precedents to persuade the judge presiding over the case to rule in favour of your client.
However, here’s an interesting proposition for you.
Have you heard of two judges in the same courthouse give markedly different sentences to people who have committed the same crime? Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment - Cass Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University, deliberates in detail how there are inherent human biases in the most objective of judges, and how they can influence their sentencing.
To illustrate, in the context of Indian judiciary, take elevation to the higher judiciary after X years of legal practice. The judge who had been a successful defence attorney would be favourable to allowing appeals. This deduction is based on the premise that the defence attorney, now a judge, understands that the accused should be given every chance to prove their innocence as per the Indian Constitution.
On the other hand, a judge who was a successful attorney doing administrative matters would not be favourable in allowing appeals, for the simple reason that efficiency is what he has pursued during his work with the government bodies. Thus, he would push for irrefutable merit in the case. He is not motivated by personal gains, but is cognizant that the judiciary is over-burdened.
Therefore when your case is listed, it is natural that you first check which judge would be presiding over your matter, and how the said judge has dealt with similar matters earlier. This is where Litigation Analytics comes into play, which gives you objective data on the above parameters, helps shape your perspective and build your arguments.
Litigation Analytics explained
Litigation Analytics [performing a systematic analysis of the judgments handed down by individual judges] is a trend which has gathered significant momentum across the legal fraternity, especially for crafting litigation strategy. A litigation analytics software or tool examines the judgment of each judicial officer and offers insights into patterns and tendencies of that judge. This enables lawyers to base their litigation strategies on comprehensible data, instead of the hearsay circulating in court corridors and lawyers’ gut feelings.
Manupatra offers as part of its online legal research platform the feature of Judge Analytics. This gives the user a bird’s eye view of:
The number of judgments authored and cited by each Supreme Court and High Court Justice.
The number of times their judgment has been cited in the Supreme Court, as well as in the High Court.
Clicking on a judgment gives you an analysis of the number of times the judgment has been Mentioned/Cited/Affirmed/Dissented/ Relied On or Distinguished, across all the courts in the country, as appearing in the Manupatra database.
Here’s an example of Judge Analytics for former Supreme Court judge, Justice AK Sikri:
Advanced Judge Analytics: This advanced feature of legal analytics depicts the detailed analysis of various judgments of the judicial officer over the years in a pie chart. The areas of analysis include the following parameters, furnishing a 360-degree interpretation and review of each judge’s outlook:
Citations (separate for Supreme Court and the High Courts),
The judges cited by the judicial officer in their pronouncements
Plan your Litigation Strategy with Litigation Analytics
Litigation analytics tools provide insights into the views, outlook and nature of decisions of the judges to all practitioners alike, making it a level playing field, and not an expertise of the experienced alone. Apart from providing a smarter litigation strategy, and better chances in the courtroom, litigation analytics enables a lawyer to present a more confident brief to their client, strengthening the client’s faith and boosting the overall dynamics of the client-lawyer relationship.
Below are a few pointers on how to leverage the information provided in the Judge Analytics tool to build an effective litigation strategy:
Analyzing the year-wise and subject-wise judgment pronouncement pattern provides insight into the disposition of the judge and the kind of cases they have presided over.
The user can determine which counsel appeared before the judge and study their arguments and submissions for further reference to strengthen submissions and litigation strategy.
Understanding the disposition of a judge in quantitative terms and visually using the visualisation tools helps you in a brief instant gather the inputs you require to plan your litigation strategy.
Studying the data on which judge they cite and who they are cited by gives further insights into their disposition and provides you data to base your litigation strategy on.
Manupatra Judge Analytics captures not only the judicial history and disposition of the judge during their tenure at the Supreme Court, but also during their time at High Court/s, which provides a complete picture.
In addition to the laws and statutes, using Judge Analytics can give a formidable edge.
Duty of Care of a Lawyer towards their Clients
A lawyer’s biggest duty is towards the client. To provide them the best possible defence, any and every opportunity should be leveraged.
Through this new-age tool of Litigation Analytics, Manupatra has introduced objectivity by applying data analytics to judicial pronouncements and has made mountains of unstructured data relevant. It has also facilitated a level playing field for professionals across different years of experience, since data and inputs are not restricted to individuals.
Manupatra's Saumya Snehal has assisted professionals and students in India and overseas, to integrate the use of search and judge analytics in their research, through webinars and training sessions.