Legal Moneyball

In the wake of the new Moneyball movie, we’re hearing a lot about legal statistics. The ABA Journal recently predicted that “If Legal Services Value Stats Were Created, Standardized, Law Clients Could Play ‘Moneyball’.”

But do we have that much time? Take a look at Redfin’s new “Scouting Report” for real estate agents. It shows the listings and recent sales statistics for individual real estate agents, based on MLS listings. Some agents are upset about this level of disclosure, perhaps understandably; would you pick an agent that last sold a house in 2008?

It doesn’t seem like it would take more than a couple of weekends for a young entrepreneur to string together something similar from PACER or one of the many electronic dockets across the country.

Imagine a world where a lawyer’s win-loss records, filings, and experience are on display. Would it affect consumers to know how often their lawyer wins? How often a firm wins summary judgment motions? How long it’s been since a jury ruled in your favor? And would it change a lawyer’s willingness to take risky cases? Or brief risky issues?

I am the first to admit that law practice is complex, and that statistics may say far more about your clients than a particular lawyer’s ability.

But I wouldn’t count on living in a world without such statistics for much longer.