A lot has changed with Practical Guidance from LexisNexis in the past year. The leading product on the market for practical know-how for attorneys has been building out its dataset, creating new tools, and continuing to make improvements to its interfaces to create a seamless experience of being able to go from research to guidance and back again.
We recently sat down with Daniel Lewis, Vice President of Practical Guidance and Analytical Content at LexisNexis, to discuss Practical Guidance’s new data-driven approach, how they’re incorporating data visualization into legal guidance, new offerings like Market Standards and the Commercial Leasing Survey, and more.
Can you give us a brief introduction to Practical Guidance from Lexis?
Practical Guidance helps attorneys handle legal tasks from start to finish across 20 different practice areas. It offers guidance on how to do particular tasks and why they’re done in a certain way, as well as checklists and template documents to build from. Practical Guidance gives practitioners data to make better, more informed decisions. It’s designed to help lawyers be able to take on new tasks quickly and confidently with the help of insights and know-how from experts in the field.
Can you explain Lexis’s new data-driven approach to Practical Guidance?
For many years, legal guidance has been driven primarily by text and know-how from practitioners. Increasingly, however, doing great legal work requires an understanding of broader patterns and trends and using data to make decisions that are both tactical and strategic to offer clients advice about what’s likely to happen.
That’s why we’ve taken a concerted approach to building data into our guidance in a variety of different ways for different practices. It’s something that distinguishes our offerings from other guidance tools on the market. It’s all for the purpose of helping lawyers spot trends, predict outcomes, create plans that are more cost-effective, and have a greater chance of success.
Our data-driven strategy essentially has three pillars to it. The first is data and analytics derived from public datasets. The second is data derived from unique and exclusive private data sets that we’re creating. The third pillar is integrating unique data and analytics from other parts of the Lexis ecosystem like Lex Machina and Context, with a special focus on litigation.
Why is a data-driven approach to law so important right now?
Legal practice today requires connecting lots of different pieces of information and forming them into an argument or strategy. By using data, lawyers can spot trends, better predict what’s likely to happen, and create plans that are more likely to be successful. Data also gives them a competitive advantage against attorneys who are still practicing based solely on intuition and their own personal experience, which, even for the most experienced lawyer, is still limited. Clients are also increasingly expecting lawyers to use data to make decisions and provide advice.
How does Practical Guidance incorporate data visualization?
We use charts and visualizations in many aspects of Practical Guidance. The idea is to make data and insights more accessible. The visualizations allow attorneys to engage with the analytics intuitively without having to interpret them on their own.
You can think of it like the kind of visualizations that you see in theNew York Times. What the visualizations do is help you understand a data point or a trend or a pattern in ways that are difficult to do if you’re just dealing with numbers. To me, it’s all about helping attorneys quickly understand the data and be able to take action from it.
What is Market Standards in Practical Guidance?
Market Standards is an example of the first pillar of our data-driven strategy, because it’s derived from public datasets. We launched our first module last fall and it covered mergers and acquisitions. Market Standards collects publicly filed deals and deal documents associated with them from the SEC, which is thousands of documents every year. On top of that, we’ve built out detailed filters and data so lawyers can quickly click a few buttons and see exactly the deals they want to see.
We’ve also built out charts and visualizations to help lawyers make sense of what the patterns and trends are. We highlight key deal points so lawyers can glean insights and make actionable decisions without having to sift through thousands of deals and create charts in Excel.
Last year Practical Guidance launched the Survey of Commercial Leasing Terms. How does that offering fit into Lexis’s Practical Guidance strategy and what benefits does it offer lawyers?
The Survey of Commercial Leasing Terms falls under the second pillar of our data-driven strategy, because it’s derived from unique and exclusive private data we create. It’s the first one we’ve been building out and it’s essentially a contributory database where lawyers provide information about recent leases they’ve transacted, and in exchange for that contribution they get access to the broader data set of everybody else’s contributions.
We’ve anonymized the data so the individual fields can’t be traced back to their contributors, but the broader data set provides insights into what’s happening in specific leasing markets. This data is exactly what practitioners need to know about the market, but there aren’t public data sets to work from that cover it. This is a unique opportunity for us to build high-value datasets by collecting what exists privately.
What can users expect to see from Practical Guidance in the near future?
Right now we have activity in all three pillars. With Market Standards, we’re building out two new modules that will launch soon, one for finance that covers credit agreements and one for employment that covers executive employment agreements. (Editor’s note: The finance launched in late June.) We’ll also see more modules toward the end of the year. We’re also working on expanding our integration of data to new practice areas, bringing in insights from products like Lex Machina and Context.