TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, December 2, 2013

Why Lawyers Hate Moneyball

Law Technology News:  Why Attorneys Love-Hate Data Analytics: Relying on Big Data Can be a Blow to an Attorney's Ego:

MoneyballDie-hard Oakland A's fans were angry with general manager Billy Beane when he used computer-generated analytics to pick his players in 2002. Fans doubted that a computer could out think the scouts and experts in the stands. So their trip to the playoffs that season, as well as the following year, shocked the baseball world–—and convinced other teams there might just be something valuable in crunching numbers.

Well, that was baseball. Legal professionals, on the other hand, still need some convincing.

James Michalowicz is the managing director of Huron Legal, and was formerly a litigation management consultant for his own firm. At Huron, Michalowicz advises firms to use big data and performance metrics to minimize legal spending. Some of the attorneys he works with, however, are doubtful of the benefits of using big data at all.

"As much as I think the use of analytics is now penetrating the sports world, I think it's slower in the legal world," Michalowicz told Law Technology News. Since a law firm's value depends heavily on its legal knowledge base, installing a program that does all the heavy-thinking can make attorneys feel like their hard-earned legal education is being undermined, explains Michalowicz. "There's this emotional piece to it. Lawyers don't want to rely on data. It's a challenge to their pride."

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How many World Series have the Oakland A's won since practicing "Moneyball?" Zero. That pretty much tells you what this philosophy is worth.

Posted by: michael livingston | Dec 3, 2013 2:22:13 AM

Oh, Michael, here you go:

"Powered By Bill James And Friends, The Red Sox Win (Another) Moneyball World Series"

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Dec 3, 2013 9:18:33 AM

If the Oakland A's were starting with the same resources as other teams, or greater, then the fact that they haven't won a World Series would be a strike against Moneyball. However, since the A's are consistently one of the teams with the smallest payrolls in major league baseball, I'm not sure what relevance it has.

Posted by: Jobs | Dec 3, 2013 10:53:09 AM

Not to mention that the strategy has since been adopted by other teams, meaning that the A's are now competing against other teams using Moneyball strategies that also have greater starting resources.

Posted by: Jobs | Dec 3, 2013 10:57:35 AM