A new French law designed to restrict use of legal and judicial analytics is unlikely to catch on in the U.S., legal tech experts say.
The law amends France’s judicial administration code to limit the ability of legal tech companies from identifying judges or magistrates in connection with analysis or predictions about how how they might proceed in the court.
The move could slow the drive for legal tech innovations in France, but is unlikely to have much of an impact in the U.S., said Nicolas Economou, chair of the law committees of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ global initiative on ethics of autonomous and intelligent systems.
“I think this is going to be an exception,” Economou said of the French law. “I think this will be confined to France, and could be overturned.”
Legal tech vendors in the United States have invested millions to create tools designed to mine litigation data. One vendor, Lex Machina, touts that its data reveals “insights never before available about judges, lawyers, parties, and the subjects of the cases themselves, culled from millions of pages of litigation information.”
Lex Machina, purchased by LexisNexis in 2015, and other products such as Ravel Law, which also mines judicial decision-making data, are now widely believed to be used by a clear majority of the top-earning U.S. law firms.
Lex Machina declined comment through a spokeswoman. Ravel Law officials couldn’t be reached.
The reasons data use in law firms is on the rise are clear, said Ralph Baxter, an adviser to law firms, law departments, and legal tech companies.
Litigation-focused data can save firms and clients money by determining when to file certain motions, and before which judges, and in a range other ways, said Baxter, a former chair and CEO of the law firm Orrick who also previously sat on Lex Machina’s board of directors.
More generally, he said the use of big data has huge potential for the modernization of legal service. “Big data is here to stay,” he said. “With law, it’s at an early stage, but it’s coming.”
Baxter agreed that France’s law was unlikely to reach American shores—and shouldn’t, in large part because legal tech advancements, including in legal analytics, aid access to justice by allowing smaller law firms and poorer legal consumers data that can be key in how they pursue cases.
Freelance correspondent Rick Mitchell contributed to this report.
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