FirstEval-Melissa Kovacs


Why Should Attorneys and Data Scientists be Friends?

Here’s what happens when data scientists and attorneys hang out together – data scientists help attorneys do their jobs better.  Law firm analytics can help guide practices towards better legal outcomes and better bottom lines.  Data mining can assist with big e-discovery data.  And, statisticians can provide important expert opinions to interpret and use DNA evidence, calculate damages in all sorts of industries from public health to the environment, and make demographic arguments in housing and employment discrimination cases.  Data analytics tools and statistical methods can glean information from existing evidence, while statisticians can expertly compile useful external data sources to support arguments.Capture

Importantly, attorneys can benefit from incorporating data into the civil litigation courtroom, particularly for discrimination cases.   In this post, I’ll focus on one specific source of external data useful to discrimination lawyers – Census data.  I’ve previously relied on Census data to successfully describe the Hispanic / Latino population in a specific neighborhood for a housing discrimination case.  Updates and changes to the Census site and Census data have made using Census data easier, and the data only gets more and more comprehensive, such that it supports nuances in demographic arguments.

What’s more, the smart people at the Census have some ready-made data visualizations that just might be useful for you.  One of my favorites, showing the distribution of Hispanic or Latino population by origin, is here.

Using Census data requires care in understanding which years and which demographic levels are being combined for each metric they report.  This matters a lot when making year comparisons or comparisons among different geographic locations.  Census data is just one of many useful external data sources that can be relied upon in civil litigation.

More coming soon on the productive results when attorneys and data scientists combine their energies…




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