Rubbish press release: Big data creates a big row

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By Judge John Hack on

Pompous claims that Moneyball-style analytics can unearth the best litigators leads to Twitter ruck


Legal Cheek’s award for rubbish press release this week goes to a notice that was more entertaining than actual rubbish.

A buccaneering “big data” outfit from the US called Premonition instructed a London PR agency to promote a fanciful wheeze that number crunching can uncover the best advocates in any given jurisdiction.

Presumably, they go for that type of thing in middle America. So the Premonition gang — which describes itself as the “Moneyball of legal analytics” (a baseball reference too complicated to discuss here) — thought it would give it a whirl on this side of the Atlantic.

Fair enough. The release was chock full of gems such as this from Ian Dodd, the company’s chief bottle-washer in the UK:

When you look at the data, many emperors have no clothes. Just as in other sectors, big data means people have nowhere to hide and many will agree that the legal industry is ripe for disruption – it needs to become way more efficient and transparency does that.

“Way more efficient …”? Surely that’s more the language of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” than what one would expect for an English legal profession audience. Then again, perhaps that’s the point.

But the most entertaining element of this release was the Twitter row triggered when its embargo was allegedly broken.

Why any sensible PR agency would attempt to impose an embargo 48 hours down the track is another matter, but handbags resulted between website LegalFutures and legal affairs blogger David Allen Green over the purpose of an embargo and just what is and is not a blog.

Vidal v Capote it ain’t, but in the normally staid world of the legal Twittersphere, the tussle merits an eight out of 10.