Trellis Blog - Legal Analytics

Using Data To Help You File Better Motions

May 7, 2019 11:56:00 AM / by Tony Depa


Using Data to Help You File Better Motions. Image of gavel.

Law, in many ways, is a game of research. You gather evidence, history, and precedent on behalf of your client, and try to use that gathered research to present a case. In that regard, it’s a surprise that databases and legal analytics haven’t grabbed a foothold here sooner.

In the same way that businesses use analytics for their risk management, lawyers should use data when planning litigation strategy. Here’s how.

How Data Helps You With Legal Motions

When it comes to legal motions, you want to ultimately weigh the likelihood that your motion will be accepted, and that the motion will help your client’s case. This is easier said than done in some cases. The biggest role of data is to help you predict the way your case will go based on existing figures.

For example, say that you are assigned a specific judge, and you want to know the best motions to file based on the judge’s past ruling history. You could use existing data on the judge to construct a “report” on how they are most likely to react to a motion that you put forward. You can also do the same when it comes to opposing counsel. As a lawyer, you’re already used to using research to strengthen your case internally. Data helps you prepare for the outside factors as well.

Where To Find The Data You Need

We’ve established how data can help your motions get a better chance of being accepted, and have a greater impact on your clients. But exactly what type of data should you be looking for? Here are some key examples.

Judges: All judges are sworn to uphold the law, but they are individuals with individual interpretations of said law. This is why it’s important to learn about your judge’s background before getting started with a case. For example, in our data on California judges we’ve noted some of the most popular judges in terms of searches. Learning not just the history of the judge, but also some of their past rulings and actions could go a long way in terms of getting your motion through.

Dockets: Every lawyer understands the importance of looking through past dockets for precedents. The advent of online legal databases and other tools makes this far easier. By looking at different cases, you can quickly know what judge was assigned, as well as the progression of the case. If you see that this case had the desired result, you can try and emulate the approach, or look elsewhere.

Counties: In a state the size of California, the county a case is filed in could significantly alter its outcome, from the history of cases in that county to the judges assigned. In addition, each county courtroom has its own set of rules. Use data to your advantage here to see the history of cases similar to yours in that county, as well as what judge is most likely to preside over your case.

Note that these aren’t the only metrics you can use to try and analyze different legal scenarios. From the party to the case category, data can help show you what type of motions are most likely to be filed, as well as their history of past success. All of these can inform your case for the better.

The advent of Big Data has opened up a sea of new possibilities across the board, the legal world included. In order to increase your chances of success, query a reliable database with the figures and statistics you need.

(Trellis opens up over a decade’s worth of past Superior Court rulings in California for lawyers to examine and analyze. Give it a try!)

Written by Tony Depa

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