Legal Process Outsourcing

Strengthening your legal practice: How advanced research tools are changing the game

Building capabilities is essential for any organisation to thrive, and the legal sector is no exception. To achieve consistent performance, legal practices must integrate their people, processes and technology efficiently. One crucial aspect of this integration is legal research, which serves as the foundation for making informed legal decisions and providing valuable insights for cases.

In a broad sense, any research is a methodical quest for the collection, categorisation, and analysis of the right information. This holds true particularly for legal research, as answering legal questions correctly helps to form a sound base for legal decision-making.

Understanding legal research

As a legal professional, it is a lawyer’s duty to understand the distinctions within the law and have the capability to interpret legal precedents. Legal research is the method to first determine the steps required to answer the legal query and then follow the process to collect relevant data to answer those questions. This entire process makes legal research an integral part of the legal profession and an essential skill to have when working on any type of case.

It may sound simple, but legal research is quite demanding and requires not only an in-depth knowledge of the law but also a good grasp of information analysis. Organisations are building this capability so that it can be leveraged as a managed service offering to make the legal research process more efficient, both in terms of time and cost. This way, many law firms and in-house legal teams are earning profits by opting for automated legal research solutions powered by predictive analytics to provide cutting-edge solutions and using their domain expertise to help lawyers.

Constructing a solid foundation for your legal practice

Legal research is not an optional or incidental part of the process but a necessity before starting work on any legal matter. Commonly, any legal practice will search for primary and secondary sources of legal information, irrespective of jurisdiction and subject matter. The two information sources of legal research — primary law (focusing on case law, status, and regulations) and secondary sources (explaining the legal theory, such as treaties, journals, and digests, etc.) — are the stepping stones in identifying key facts, legal arguments, and doctrines relevant to the issue at hand. In addition, legal research provides a comprehensive understanding of any legal issues using the following methods.

  • Analysing the law by breaking it into separate elements, simplifies understanding and the interpretation of specific statutes and cases.
  • Forming coherent legal standards by blending distinct elements of different cases and statutes, justifying specific legal decisions which may be very useful in building an argument.
  • Breaking down doctrinal issues and advising legal professionals or clients about the application of legal theories in specific cases, or criticising judicial opinions and resolving conflicts based on legal doctrine.
  • Curating teaching material for legal professionals and students to help them understand legal theories, doctrine, statutes, and case laws.
  • Arguing for improvements in legal practices and examining crucial legal doctrines from the perspective of economics, sociology, politics, and other sciences.
  • Leveraging AI/automation to access, analyse and apply legal information and augment the process.

And with these, legal research offers benefits to legal professionals as well through:

  • Fact-finding: Providing comprehensive knowledge about cases, including all the facts and evidence of the case before the authority and the jury.
  • Understanding key issues: Simplifying issues by eliminating unnecessary or irrelevant data and allowing focus on core facts to argue the matter at hand.
  • Finding answers: Getting accurate answers to understand the whole issue with the concerned authority and developing a strategy to effectively counter any arguments.
  • Value add: Providing more value when presenting case evidence and other details in front of the concerned authority while interpreting the underlying legal theory and precedent that supports the argument.

Fundamentally, legal research ensures better clarity on any issue and anticipates different arguments that may come up in court.

Steps to successfully execute legal research

Legal research is a comprehensive process; and here are a few things to consider while undertaking legal research:

  • Understanding the issue: It is critical to be cognizant of the issue under consideration to better evaluate the core details and supporting information uncovered during legal research.
  • Recognising the primary and secondary sources: Primary and secondary sources of research must be correctly identified to generate a cohesive representation of the collected information.
  • Evaluating information: The knowledge of the issue at hand and the information collected from both sources must be aligned to evaluate accuracy.
  • Selecting core information: Data collected is evaluated and the findings are used to build well-researched legal arguments and an informed strategy that incorporates core details with supporting background information.
  • Studying deviations: It is important to study deviations from the norm to understand potential counterpoints and prepare strong arguments to support the required issue.

It is time-consuming to follow these steps manually and there may also be ancillary costs to accessing reliable data sources, which is one of the key reasons prompting modern law firms to consider outsourcing legal research. With the intervention of modern technological solutions such as automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud-based services, legal research is now easier, faster, and cost-efficient, resulting in its emergence as a promising service line in the legal managed services space.

By harnessing the power of technology and following best practices, legal professionals can conduct effective research, leading to better decision making and improved client representation. In this rapidly evolving legal landscape, organisations that prioritise legal research can thus gain advantage and stay ahead in delivering better services.

This article was first published on Business Insider

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