I am nowhere near the most plugged in when it comes to lawyers on the forefront of tracking the ways in which rapid developments in technology are changing the practice of law. I’m a bit more aware than likely most lawyers, in part because I’m constantly looking for things worth writing about here, but also because I’ve been fortunate enough over the last two years to be a members of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market.
For a combination of those reasons, I’ve been reading a bit about the latest tool that Ravel Law has unleashed on the world, “Firm Analytics.” Among other selling points that Ravel Law touts, and the one I want to leave you to think about over the weekend is:
In another first, Firm Analytics also provides rankings of firms across key variables including practice area, case volume, venue experience, and motion win rates. These leaderboards allow comparisons across substantive performance metrics, a significant innovation to traditional revenue and size rankings. As part of this launch, we are releasing rankings of the top five law firms across employment, securities, antitrust, administrative law, and bankruptcy (more below).
This is, of course, excellent information to be made available in the marketplace and with the constant creation of new ways to better, and more quickly, aggregate and synthesize data it is also inevitable for it to come into existence.
The thought I want to leave you with though is this — how crazy is it that, in many U.S. jurisdictions, if a lawyer or law firm wanted to advertise themselves using this same kind of data (win rates, success history, etc.), they would likely be opening themselves up to a disciplinary complaint under state advertising rules that prohibit lawyers from touting past successful outcomes in matters?
For example, let me pick a state at random and not a state that has any reason at all to be in the news, Montana. If a law firm in Montana or a lawyer there decided to aggregate this data and tout their win percentages, they’d likely be at risk of seeing bar regulators accuse them of violating either or both of these provisions in Rule 7.1 prohibiting communications about a lawyer’s services that:
(b) is likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve;
(c) proclaims results obtained on behalf of clients, such as the amount of a damage award or the lawyer’s record in obtaining favorable verdicts or settlements, without stating that past results afford no guarantee of future results and that every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.