‘Moneyball’ legal analytics helps lawyers assess judges

Intellectual property lawyer Huong Nguyen walked into a federal courtroom a few years ago to defend a case for a maker of generic pharmaceuticals. Another lawyer told her that the judge had a reputation of favoring name-brand drug makers, which would normally suggest that Nguyen might lose at the trial level. But one source of information made her believe that she had a better shot: legal analytics. Using software made by Menlo Park startup Lex Machina, Nguyen was able to see how the judge had ruled in previous cases that matched details of hers. She found that he had once ruled in favor of a generic maker, like the one she was representing. The parties ended up settling, she said — far better than losing. An increasing number of artificial intelligence tools is helping lawyers comb court documents to learn more about judges and even other lawyers. Opposition research has long been a standard practice in the legal industry, of course. But the data tools, many of which are developed in the Bay Area, may take the possibilities to the next level. “The time is coming when it’s going to be universal,” said Kirk Jenkins, a Chicago lawyer who chairs…

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