A typical law firm interacts with tons of data every day. But not all of them are concise enough to influence accurate decision-making. In fact, 80% of data that organizations deal with regularly is unstructured. Commission examples include social media chat history, emails, PDFs, user reviews, videos, images, and many more.
The trickiest part is that as the unstructured data keeps piling up exponentially, it becomes virtually impossible to extract value from them. Hence, there’s a need for your law firm to record and organize any information it comes across without wasting time or effort. But how?
This article takes a deeper dive into the types of unstructured data in a law firm, the challenges of handling such data, and the best technology solutions to help manage them. But first, what is unstructured data?
What is Unstructured Data?
Unstructured data is any information that lacks a pre-defined data model or isn’t organized in a pre-defined manner. Such info is usually text-heavy but may contain valuable data like numbers, dates, or facts. It may also comprise non-text content such as visuals or sound.
Typically, unstructured data remains unusable until further processing. And the sooner you begin refining your law firm’s unstructured data, the better because such data won’t stop piling up anytime soon. In 2020 alone, the amount of data circulating worldwide clocked 64.2 zettabytes (64.2 billion terabytes), and it’s expected to compound to 180 zettabytes by 2025 (Statista).
What are the Challenges of Handling Unstructured Data?
Unstructured data present a massive potential for growth in a law firm by providing value-adding insights. But many organizations fail to tap into these opportunities due to challenges that come with analyzing such data. Here’s a closer look at some obstacles:
Unstructured Data Keeps Expanding
As we’ve mentioned in the section above, unstructured data keeps expanding exponentially. And when the large data set grows, the harder it becomes to store and analyze in a timely and efficient manner. So, the only way of overcoming such an obstacle is by investing in an automated system that can process large amounts of data – more details below.
Not all Unstructured Data is High-Quality
Telling top-quality unstructured data from irrelevant ones is an absolute nightmare, primarily due to their large volumes and inconsistent patterns. For instance, not all Facebook status updates, images, or audiovisuals may be helpful to a law firm looking to enhance its digital marketing strategies.
Inability to Protect all Data at Risk
The chances are that your law firm’s backup window isn’t extensive enough to handle incremental data protection as and when new files emerge. This may force you to make a consequential decision of which data to protect and which one to leave. In the long run, this exposes your firm to the risk of data theft or compromise because cybercriminals are always on the lookout for new opportunities.
Unstructured Data Can’t be Analyzed with Conventional Systems
Conventional databases are only tailor-made and equipped to store and organize structured data. That’s because unstructured data come in various random formats that may not fit into the rigidity of traditional systems. Hence, there’s a need to upgrade to more modern system capable of locating, extracting, organizing, and storing data.
The Best Technology Solutions to Manage Unstructured Data
There are several software technology solutions that your law firm can utilize to store, organize, and manage unstructured data. Here’s a review of the top five plus their key features and capabilities:
Dropbox is a cloud storage service that lets you store large data files online and sync them on your device. Overall, the file hosting service is an excellent repository for volumes of unstructured data, creating more space at the local file storage and allowing trouble-free retrievability.
Dropbox Key Features and Capabilities
- It’s highly secure – encrypted with 256-bit AES
- It’s both app-based and web-based
- The free plan comes with 2 GB storage, which you can upgrade to as much as 3 TB
- It keeps a history of your files for hassle-free retrievability
- It comes with collaboration tools like Dropbox Spaces, which empowers teams to collaborate on projects by sharing notes, documents, and editing in real-time.
- Sharing files on Dropbox is a no-brainer
OneDrive is another excellent cloud-based file storage service under the Microsoft 365 suite. The storage solution comes with a built-in data classification feature that automates the regrouping of unstructured data for effortless storage and management. But that’ not all; OneDrive can also detect data that contains personally identifiable information (PII) or any other sensitive info.
OneDrive Key Features and Benefits
- You can access all your files in OneDrive without using device storage
- OneDrive supports team collaboration, and you can share files with any authorized individual
- Intelligent discovery is a OneDrive feature that lets you discover the most relevant content
- OneDrive supports real-time co-authoring
- It comes with a data loss prevention (DLP), securing your data, and keeping you compliant
As we mentioned earlier, it’s easier to overlook unstructured data because they pile up exponentially. But Worldox is here to ensure that you always save all your documents on the go and integrate them with emails. The cloud-based legal files management solution also integrates with Microsoft Office, meaning you can search and find any data right from the toolbar. How cool is that?
Worldox Unique Features and Capabilities
- It has a user-friendly interface
- It provides robust email management
- It manages every piece of data that can be saved as a file
- It offers unlimited customization capabilities
There’s a need to constantly track unstructured data sets and record the time they trickle in to extract maximum insights from them. But it’s virtually impossible to do it manually, as it’s tiring and time-consuming. That’s where LawBillity comes in handy; classic legal time management software that accurately tracks time down to the second. With this tool, you can rest assured that no unstructured data escapes your eyes, whether you’re in the office or traveling.
LawBillity Unique Features and Capabilities
- You can access it from any device
- It offers customizable and flexible time-tracking options
- It doesn’t matter whether you’re on or offline
- Every event gets backed up to the cloud and auto-saved across various devices
There You Go!
Unstructured data sets may keep expanding, be inconsistent, and physically tiring to organize. But one thing’s for sure; they can’t beat the efficiency of the best legal management systems. Just imagine how fast and convenient legal time management (that’s where LawBillity adds value), email sorting, client acquisition, market analysis, etc., can be with the automated management of unstructured data in your law firm!
Hopefully, one of the software solutions discussed above will be a game-changer in your legal works and help your team deal with unstructured data more efficiently. Start a 14-day FREE trial to see LawBillity live in action today!