In the litigation space, harnessing information is the key to success.
With thousands of cases shuffling through the courts every day, the act of gathering relevant data and drawing conclusions based on past cases with an eye towards your strategy in the courtroom can take a team of legal professionals several weeks working on their own.
Legal Analytics from Lex Machina cuts through the noise of any irrelevant legal data, allowing attorneys to make informed decisions and understand how past matters and outcomes for relevant firms, individual attorneys, courts, judges, and parties might demonstrate how their own case could play out.
“We built out Legal Analytics. It’s our focus, it’s what we do,” says Carla Rydholm, an attorney who joined Lex Machina in its early days and currently serves as the company’s Senior Director of Product Management.
Today’s Lex Machina product can create analytics driven by data from federal district and appellate courts, bankruptcy courts, administrative and specialty courts like that of the International Trade Commission, and a growing number of state courts.
With successful launches early in 2020 regarding new coverage of state courts serving major population centers (such as the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Houston’s Harris County District Court, New York City, and more), Lex Machina turned its attention to broad state court coverage across jurisdictions to cover venues of all sizes.
“With the success of state courts so far, we really are aiming to bring the idea of using data and Legal Analytics to all practitioners,” Rydholm says.
Expanding Coverage Of State Courts
Rydholm explained why having data for state courts is powerful. “Since the volume of litigation in civil trial courts is so high and there are so many courts, it is really difficult to know every law firm, attorney, and judge out there. It can always be helpful for practitioners to have real-world benchmarks and the complete litigation history to draw from.”
For example, Lex Machina has expanded its Legal Analytics capabilities to cover the entirety of Delaware — including all three Delaware Superior Courts and the state’s popular Court of Chancery. Lex Machina also covers the five Supreme Courts handling civil trials cases in New York CIty: New York County, Kings County, Queens County, Bronx County, and Richmond County.
In December 2022, Lex Machina added broad coverage for civil trials courts in Georgia, announcing coverage of 26 courts. The company is building similar capabilities for state courts across the nation.
“State court data can be messy,” Rydholm says. “Courts are often responsible for their own website and really are focused on doing a lot of the day-to-day running of the justice system. They’re not building a database for us.”
Undeterred, Lex Machina’s team of engineers and attorneys has set out to tame the chaos of state court data, applying the lessons learned while building out coverage of the federal courts to the massive volume of data produced by many courts at the state level.
Lex Machina has honed the technology to extract counsel, judge, and party information from documents and has invested in obtaining those documents (especially pleadings filed by parties and orders filed by judges) in order to create the best data for state courts.
The documents that are systematically collected to create datasets are also available as a resource for customers.
Enhancing State Court Analytics Through Motion Metrics
One of the key features empowering Lex Machina users to make tough decisions when forming a litigation strategy is Motion Metrics, which display historical outcomes for different motion types in a specific court or from a specific judge.
Rydholm gives the unique summary judgment grant record of Chancellor Kathaleen St. J. McCormick of the Delaware Court of Chancery as an example of the essential, strategic information attorneys can find through Lex Machina.
Through Motion Metrics, Lex Machina reveals how McCormick, who serves as head of the court, is more likely than the court’s vice chancellors to grant a motion for summary judgment — her grant rate for this motion type at the time of this writing is 79%, while the grant rate for all judges in the court is just 42%.
In practice, this might inform how an attorney might advise a client whose case is before McCormick on whether to submit such a motion or wait for the matter to develop further.
(Click here to view Chancellor McCormick of DCC State Motion Metrics for 3 motion types including SJ.)
(Or here for Chancellor McCormick compared with other judges at DCC.)
Lex Machina dives deep into its state court data in order to provide the high level of detailed, accurate, and nuanced Legal Analytics for state court litigation that their customers have come to expect. They do this by digging into everything from dollar amounts attached to past damages awarded, to the number of times your opposing counsel has appeared in the venue for your current case. Rydholm shared an example of damages awarded in Torts cases in front of Judge Sapp of Chatham County State Court (which serves Savannah, Georgia).
Rydholm also shared an example of venue experience for the McArthur Law Firm in Georgia state courts.
And, if a user wants to know more about the underlying cases used to create the analytics, Lex Machina links to the entire docket for each case result, allowing that user to review case documents directly. This thoroughness allows attorneys to confidently make decisions based on information they’re sure is accurate.
Know Your Opponents in State and Federal Courts, and Build Business Wherever You Practice
Judges aren’t the only category of legal industry player Lex Machina can pull extensive reports on. The platform can also deliver insights on everything from how many times an individual attorney has appeared in a specific court to records of a law firm’s successes and failures in a specific area of litigation.
These insights can, for example, give attorneys a better picture of opposing counsel’s experience and past work, Rydholm suggests.
“I could get intelligence about opposing counsel to share with my client and say ‘I’m going to look at all these cases and understand the outcomes,’ or I can share analytics about myself,” she says. “A lot of the time, you’re trying to keep your client happy and make sure they know what you’ve done before.”
Lex Machina’s usefulness isn’t limited to the courtroom or client meetings, however. According to Rydholm, many users take advantage of Lex Machina insights when sizing up the competition or when highlighting their own firm’s success for an upcoming pitch for a potential new client.
For example, if Five Star Electric Group was searching for a law firm to represent it in New York state court, you could use Lex Machina to assess your potential competition for this business.
Even for attorneys not gearing up for a pitch, Lex Machina can give an overview of the legal matters current clients have engaged other firms to handle, allowing users to stay up to date on what is happening in their clients’ worlds while spotting potential weaknesses in the competition.
For example, in representing your new client Lyft in Georgia state courts, you can use Lex Machina’s state court Legal Analytics to understand their litigation history in order to provide the best advice and counsel to your client.
To learn more about Lex Machina, please visit lexmachina.com.