Open-Source Intelligence and Social Media Research Give Litigators Measurable Advantages

Time continues to be a scarce resource in the legal workplace these days. It’s no secret many attorneys struggle with productivity at work and time management is at the very top of their priority list. No one can afford wasted time or inefficient processes. Although many variables affect one’s success, effective time management can often make the difference between winning or losing a case. Technology now provides options and solutions for time management that were not available in the recent past.

Gathering Data Online

One of the biggest consumptions of time is research, which is a critical part of your work function. The Internet was supposed to make this task simple, more efficient and faster altogether. Today’s generation of attorneys have vast publicly available electronic sources at their fingertips, often referred to as open-source intelligence (OSINT). This allows you to thoroughly vet potential clients online and easily determine important factors like whether they are being completely honest with you. You can also perform virtual background checks on new associates who wish to join the firm. Want to keep tabs on the competition in your area? The web makes it easy to monitor what that big downtown law firm is doing—who their clients are, what recent deals they closed and who their new employees are.

It’s easier and much faster to find data from online resources. However, with such large amounts of information available, and a flood of results following any search engine query, information literacy is more important than ever. Simply finding the right data is not enough, understanding whether those sources are trustworthy is truly paramount. Social media has made this even more complicated and challenging because it is an entirely separate and unique body of information.

Leveraging Social Media Research

With a continually growing number of people and businesses active on social media, your research workload can potentially multiply even more. For example, if you are working for an insurance company that suspects an employee has faked an injury to get paid time off, social media research could help you detect and prove fraud. You could find videos or photos of the individual participating in an activity that clearly shows he or she exaggerated the severity of an injury. But mining through these social media channels is yet another time-consuming process.

In addition, social media research is useful to both the prosecution and defense as they try to discover social media profiles of jurors to uncover potential biases that could weaken or strengthen their side. You can delve further into potential jurors’ backgrounds by examining their Facebook pages or LinkedIn accounts and gain more insight from their social media presence than you could from jury questionnaires alone. Although collecting information and vital data is easier than ever before, OSINT has become a time-consuming process, especially with new social media networks and information being created daily. Who has the time to keep up? Thankfully, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel and a way to recover some of that lost time and inefficiency.

Making Research Simpler and Easier

At SMI, we believe that high value people, such as attorneys, should be making high value decisions and not spending their valuable time doing research. Of course, you may have staff dedicated to conducting your research already such as your legal librarian, a research assistant or a paralegal. But there are potential issues with that as well. Consistency and accuracy are important; your legal associates should be able to deliver their research results the same way all the time. However, particularly among larger firms, you may work with several paralegals and research assistants—this can negatively affect consistency. Additionally, associates who perform the best research may be working on several other cases already—this can negatively affect the quality of information.

No two people conduct research in the same manner and no one can do all the work himself or herself. SMI can help law firms manage risk by making high value decisions in a cost effective manner. We handle all of your “grunt work” by collecting information, archiving the data, processing the results, generating a report and analyzing the findings.

Our innovative solutions reduce the time of collecting, organizing and analyzing social media information and data from OSINT sources. SMI uses a blend of an automated software—which incorporates data from traditional search engines, social media sites, the deep web, and even structured databases—as well as a highly trained person to provide our legal clients with relevant and repeatable results. So now your time, and your associates’ time, can be better spent elsewhere.

See how SMI can make your social media investigations faster and more complete. Sign up for a free demo today.