In the information age, data is a valuable commodity. But can it help lawyers with case management, due diligence, strategy and decision-making?
The answer is yes: Litigators — including civil and business litigators, as well as class action attorneys — can leverage different types of data to strengthen their practices and assist with the abovementioned.
Before we get into this topic further, let’s first define what we’re talking about when we say “data.” There are many types of data available to lawyers and law firms, but the data we’re focusing on is data about persons and businesses from both public records and proprietary sources, including public-facing content from social media sites. This data includes names, phones, emails, addresses, relatives and associates, vehicle, criminal, business, judgments, bankruptcies and employment information.
So, how can litigators benefit from data and data analysis? Here are five ways your law firm can leverage the power of data:
1. Conduct verification and due diligence on your client and the opposition
As part of the new client intake process, it’s a good idea to conduct verification and due diligence before you get too deep into the relationship or case. By doing so, you can:
As you embark on handling a case, you’ll also want to conduct initial due diligence on the opposition. Even a simple records search can reveal critical information that can help guide or strengthen your case. For example, you can review the opposing party’s criminal convictions and arrest record history, judgements, assets, bankruptcies, liens and foreclosure information, employment information, including current and former employers, business affiliations, and associates and aliases
2. Review public-facing content on social media
Recent statistics show the United States has more than 300 million users on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. While many users set their privacy settings on these sites to private, several make some or all of their content public. Knowing on which (if any) social media platforms a subject has a presence can elicit beneficial information for a litigator.
Locating and conducting due diligence on witnesses, including expert witnesses and victims in the case, is important for case planning, preparation and management. This includes checking professional licensing and employment history information on expert witnesses. It also includes verifying the identities of, locations and contact information for witnesses and victims for pre-trial investigation work, interviews and case preparation.
By accessing and reviewing relevant data through the various stages of your trial preparation, you can arm yourself with information and insights to efficiently and effectively investigate, organize, manage and prepare your case — be it for a pre-trial resolution or trial.
4. Locate and contact interested parties
Another valuable use case for data is locating interested or impacted parties for your matter. Data can be leveraged to identify, search for and notify missing, unknown or hard-to-locate beneficiaries and heirs for a legal proceeding. It can also be used to search for and contact existing or former customers or employees for legal purposes. Data can streamline your investigation and notification processes.
You can leverage data for various legally required identification and notification needs where the interested or impacted parties aren’t readily known, are missing or have out-of-date contact information. This can include product recall notifications and unclaimed property situations, as well as your legal process service needs.
5. Use data for class notification
One challenge of class action lawsuits is the requirement to notify members of an established class. Finding and verifying class member information, including names, addresses and email addresses, can be a time-consuming process. To make the task even more difficult, this information is always changing. People move, get married and undergo other life events that result in alterations to their personal information. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 8% of the US population moves annually.
A data search not only helps you verify class member contact information, it can also help you maintain good data hygiene. By comparing a list of current class member information against a repository of updated personal records, you can easily identify changes and update accordingly.
Where to find data solutions for litigators
The first step to using data to enhance your legal practice is to get access. There are a variety of ways to obtain data, including Internet searches and accessing public records databases — but it can be a time-intensive, manual task to identify and search several sources, and assemble what you’ve located in a manner that meets your needs.
TransUnion offers the legal industry several data solutions that provide lawyers with access to billions of data points. TransUnion TLOxp® enables lawyers to search data about persons and businesses from a wide variety of sources, including public record and proprietary sources via a single intuitive interface. For litigators with large data needs — such as class action attorneys and mass tort attorneys, as well as class action administrators — we offer batch processing and monitoring services. Our batch services apply lawyer-defined search criteria to search and retrieve thousands of relevant records quickly.
Learn more about TransUnion’s data services or get a demo of TLOxp.