According to a recent article in Corporate Counsel magazine, more legal departments are now experimenting with alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) in litigation (29%) than in other practice areas. However, litigation is not at all where the greatest impact of AFAs are going to be felt for many in-house legal departments and law firms.

The Brad Pitt film, Moneyball, portrays Billy Beane as the baseball team manager of the Oakland A’s struggling against accepted dogma in player selection. Beane’s insight was to use readily available data to pick his players. This flew in the face of conventional wisdom for choosing drafts by gut feel, pitching and batting style, even factors such as their demeanor off the field and the attractiveness of their wives or girlfriends. Using available data that others neglected to analyze, the Oakland A’s put together a roster of players believed to be lacking in talent, past their prime or unusable. Not only did the team prove itself by results, they were assembled with one of the lowest budgets in the sport.

In a similar vein, today the choice of a litigator is much like the bad old days of baseball player selection. Many will pick their lawyer based on the recommendation of a colleague, an online review, because they went to a particular law school, have nice offices, work for a prestigious firm, or perhaps are people recognized by their peers as supposedly being “the best.”

So, if these generally accepted methods for selecting a trial attorney aren’t the most effective, what is?

Today there is a new Artificial Intelligence-based system that is actually mining courthouse websites for litigation data, reading hundreds of thousands of cases, and analyzing them into an accessible database. That system, using the application of AI and Big Data, can now help clients identify precisely which attorneys usually “win” before which judges, handling which kinds of cases. Wins and losses have traditionally not been tracked in law, perhaps being viewed by the profession as a bit tawdry. Most attorneys don’t know their own statistics, however, nor do their firms. The only thing that gets tracked in law is hours and fees.

Read the rest of the post at Legal Executive Institute.