Who are the players in a case? Often the judge, opposing counsel, and parties influence the outcome in a case just as much, if not more, than the law itself. Having the full backstory on these players is essential when using Legal Analytics to determine case strategy. Partial information can lead you down the wrong path and give the wrong impression. Only Lex Machina does the engineering work to find full case sets for judges, counsel, and parties.
Now that we’ve discussed finding relevant cases and reviewing outcomes, let’s look at why having the most comprehensive data sets available for judges, counsel, and parties means having the best strategy information for your case.
A fundamental question for case strategy is “How much experience does my judge have in this practice area?” Before Legal Analytics, practitioners would ask colleagues and learn about judges from anecdotal evidence. Now, searching the judge’s past docket for similar cases is a critical piece of the research process. One can’t always predict what a judge will do, but their past behavior is usually indicative of their future behavior.
Lex Machina takes judge information from court systems and then cleans and enhances that information so users can view the full case set for a judge. This means we are able to find judge information that other tools miss. Other tools often rely solely on information from the court, but this information can vary between different court systems. PACER provides data on judges, but not all courts do.
Lex Machina provides complete sets of judge information because we:
- Maintain canonical lists of judges and use outside data sources to maintain up-to-date judge lists
- Find judge names in underlying documents and match misspellings so that there is only one entry for each judge in our system
- Keep District Court judges and Magistrate judges separate in the software, even if the same judge has held both positions
- Preserve historical information so that if a judge ever presided over a case, he or she is properly matched to that case
Takeaway: You get the full picture of a judge’s docket in just a few clicks and can make informed decisions about their experience in your specific practice area. Then, you can dig deeper to see that judge’s findings, case resolutions, remedies, and damages. Lastly, you can read actual orders from that judge in relevant cases.
A Federal Judge’s Case Filings by Case Type
Lex Machina helps you answer questions like “How often does this law firm settle in cases like mine?” or “Has the opposing attorney won a motion to dismiss in similar cases?” While Lex Machina does similar work to maintain its counsel information as it does for its judge information, this is a much bigger task because of the sheer number of firms and attorneys that appear in our courts.
Lex Machina enhances attorney data in a number of important ways:
- Signature Block Analysis – Lex Machina scans the signatures from important documents, rather than solely relying on metadata. This helps catch a broader set of attorneys including pro hac vice attorneys that are often missing from metadata.
- Attorney firm changes – Lex Machina stores historic snapshots of attorney data in order to make sure that the attorney is attached to the firm where he or she worked when they were on the case.
- Normalization – Lex Machina supplements and corrects attorney and organizational names including misspellings. This information, as shown below, is included on Counsel pages in Lex Machina as part of our commitment to transparency.
Takeaway: Similar to the judge’s docket, you can determine opposing counsel’s past experience with relevant cases. Besides outcomes, Lex Machina can show you opposing counsel’s motions and publicly-available settlement information. Dig in using our document searching tool to get an idea of opposing counsel’s writing style, find out what arguments have been successful, and see what types of settlement agreement information they include with court filings.
Lex Machina is the only litigation analytics provider that lets you start with a party to find their litigation history. This helps you strategize questions like “Does the opposing party file a lot of cases looking for a settlement?” or “Does my potential client have a conflict because of previous litigation?”
Given the nature of corporate structures and naming conventions, finding complete sets of data for particular parties can be difficult. Lex Machina makes it easier to see a party’s litigation history by including enhancements such as:
- Party Group Editor – see the litigation history of several related parties together, for example Alphabet and Google.
- Party Role Filter – view only cases where the party was the plaintiff or defendant.
- Outcomes by party – review findings, damages, remedies, and case resolutions in cases where the party was named.
- Damages Explorer – see if damages were awarded to or against the party at issue.
Takeaway: Parties can be just as influential in determining case strategy as the judge or counsel. By seeing their entire litigation history, you can understand better who you are up against or who you may want to take on as a client.
Strategic decision-making is often driven by the players in a case, and understanding past behavior is key to knowing what to expect. Arm yourself with the most comprehensive, accurate, and transparent information about judges, party, and counsel when preparing your plan of action.
Request a live demo with one of our experts to gain personalized insights from Lex Machina’s Outcome Analytics.