The Age of Data-Driven Lawyering: How Lex Machina is Changing the IP Litigation Game


As part of our Legal Tech Low-Down Series, we spoke with Owen Byrd, General Counsel and Chief Evangelist at Lex Machina. Lex Machina is an IP litigation analytics tool that mines litigation data for insights and information about judges, lawyer, parties, and patents. Lex Machina won American Association of Law Libraries’ award for Best Product of the Year 2015.

1. In a sentence, how would you describe what Lex Machina is doing for the legal world?

Lex Machina is transforming the business and practice of law by providing Legal Analytics, which enables lawyers to make data-driven decisions based on insights into the behavior of judges, parties, lawyers, and the IP assets that are the subject of litigation.

2. What large scale changes could we see in the legal industry if everyone used Lex Machina?

Analytics have transformed almost every industry and profession, so why not law and lawyers?  Legal Analytics enables lawyers to employ data, rather than "anec-data," to serve their clients.  I like to call it Moneyball for lawyers.  The Moneyball book and movie told the story of how data and analytics changed baseball.  Now Moneyball lawyers are practicing data-driven law.

3. Traditional litigation research tools require lawyers and law students to go through painful and time-consuming training sessions.  What’s the onboarding process for new Lex Machina users?

Lex Machina's onboarding process involves one short, simple training. Our platform is designed to be as easy to use as any e-commerce website (think eBay, Amazon, airlines). Users leave a Lex Machina tab open in their browser and return to it throughout the day to access critical information. One law firm partner user was recently on a call with the general counsel of a major pharma client, who was supervising the acquisition of a large competitor. The general counsel asked for a summary of all IP litigation involving the competitor and asked to receive it within two weeks. The outside counsel said "would you like to have it in 15 seconds?" and proceeded to deliver the summary in real time on the call. The general counsel was floored.  That's how easy it is to use.

4. What were some of the biggest hurdles that Lex Machina encountered when introducing new technology to law partners and practice leaders in the legal industry, and how did you overcome them?

We lawyers are often slow to adopt new technologies. And we learn, as we advance in our careers, to delegate traditional legal research to associates and library staff.  When Lex Machina shows up and presents a new technology -- Legal Analytics -- that is meant for partners and practice leaders to use themselves, we're asking successful people to change behavior that has already gotten them far in their careers. But once they do see the power of our tool, and experience how easy it is to use, most quickly come on board. That's how we've signed up half of the AmLaw 100 as subscribers in just a few short years.

5. What can we expect to see from Lex Machina in the next couple of years?

Our mission is to bring analytics to the law. We've had a great run in our beachhead market of patent litigation. More recently, we've rolled out Legal Analytics for trademark and copyright. Our next step is to cover other federal subjects and eventually state subjects too.

6. Lex Machina provides free services to public interest users. Are there any academic/public interest studies, initiatives or programs that Lex Machina is being used for that you’re particularly proud of?

Our public interest program helps us fulfill our goal of bringing openness and transparency to the law.  We've recently worked with a couple of law professors to provide access to all of their students in specific classes for the duration of those classes. The professors baked use of our platform into their curricula, which exposed students to the new world of Legal Analytics.

7. If you could change the legal industry in any way (besides what you’re doing via Lex Machina), what would you do?

I would pursue every opportunity to bring more openness and transparency to the law, which I think will increase and improve justice.

8. What does a day at the Lex Machina office look like?

We are a Silicon Valley tech startup, which means no two days are the same. It's been a rocket ride since we spun out of a public interest project at Stanford five years ago. Our culture is intense but informal. People from across the company -- engineers, data scientists, salespeople, marketing and customer success staff -- all collaborate on building our product and getting it into the hands of our users.

9. In the spirit of National Donut Day (which falls in June and is the theme or our newsletter), what is your favorite donut and where can we find it?

My favorite donut is a graphic in our product that displays all the case resolutions for any specific list of cases, for example all cases involving a particular judge or party or lawyer.

For more information about Lex Machina, visit their site, check out the Lex Machina blog for insights on patent cases and the legal industry, or follow them on Twitter at@LexMachina.