Lawyer selection analyzed using big data

Premonition’s technology looks at the win rates and billing rates of attorneys

BY Juliana Kenny in Inside Counsel Magazine
FEBRUARY 23, 2015

How do people select the lawyers they work with? How do they choose between associates and partners? What influences their decisions when finding attorneys to represent them in court? Do attorney track records in court truly demonstrate their litigation-based abilities? These are some of the questions answered by a study done using Big Data by Premonition LLC, a Florida-based artificial intelligence company targeting the legal industry. The group uses Big Data to analyze trends and outliers in litigation.

The group’s report, Everything You Know About Lawyer Selection is Wrong: Big Data Analyzes Litigation – Moneyball for Law?, points out some of the elements that are at play in firm success rates, individual attorney win rates, and lawyer selection.

Toby Unwin, inventor of the Premonition system, writes: “Win rate. The only item that affects the likely outcome of a case is the attorney’s prior win rate, preferably for that case type before that judge. Attorneys themselves don’t know their own statistics, nor do the firms they work for. The only thing that gets tracked in law is hours and fees.”

Premonition’s technology helps lead clients to the best possible attorneys. As the group notes, many people select attorneys through hear-say processes, “recommendations from friends, online reviews, because they’re friends, friends of friends, went to a particular law school, have nice offices, work for a well known firm, saw an advertisement, their name was first in the phone book, etc.” But software can pinpoint the best lawyer for the job in a given area. A testimony from the company details a case in which a client was searching for a lawyer for a paralysis case on the verge of trial.

“Premonition downloaded 15,000 cases, three years worth of civil actions in the Reno, Nevada Courthouse. The system found an attorney with 22 straight wins before the judge – the next person down was seven. …Premonition advised he be hired as co- counsel. The case settled within weeks.”

The system also has found no correlation between the win rate of an attorney and the billing rate. The group notes that the legal system plays into the cultural concept that the more one pays for something, the more valuable it is. Such is not the case with lawyers. Premonition says that — “while there are highly paid top performers amongst the big firms, the majority of the most successful Counsel in each court is found amongst the small firms and solo practitioners”.

Big data is more thoroughly being used in various industries to analyze and interpret data. It looks as though the legal industry is on its way to adopting similar practices.


Juliana Kenny is a contributor to, covering a range of topics including patent litigation, conflict mineral laws, executive compensation, and antitrust regulation. Juliana earned B.A.s…


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