Data Lakes And Data Warehouses: What Lawyers Need To Know 


data-gcbfe72a3d_1920AFrom data silos to data portability, lawyers must shepherd enormous amounts of data through legal and business processes. Read on to learn how data lakes and data warehouses are vital tools in your journey.

Data Lakes Versus Data Warehouses

Data lakes act as data catch-alls, similar to how natural lakes catch and store rain and run-off from surrounding hills. Data lakes are mostly “unstructured,” meaning data flows in from various sources and floats around as-is, waiting to be retrieved and analyzed. 

Data lakes make it easy to collect disparate data sets in one place, which is why they are so popular. The worldwide data lake market is anticipated to reach $25 billion by 2029 at an impressive 24% compound annual growth rate.

Companies may opt to “structure” data in data warehouses to make it easier to find and work with more exact data points, just as workers organize actual warehouses to make it easy to locate specific items. Structuring data is costly and includes deduplication, classification, grouping, and normalization.

Benefits And Drawbacks

The benefits of data lakes include immediate access to a wealth of data, lower costs of storage relative to data warehouses, and the ability to store data in its original form. You avoid the time and cost of pre-organizing and defining data. 

Data lakes also offer scalability with little concern for storage limitations. You can collect data from outside sources such as sensors, social media, and mobile and IoT devices.

Whereas highly structured data warehouses offer precision, the power of data lakes lies in their flexibility. Users can gain insights through SQL queries, full-text search, big data and real-time analytics, machine learning techniques, and more.

Finding someone with the specialized skills to manage data lakes properly can be challenging. And there is a potential to create “data swamps” due to the ease of accumulation. 

But data lakes are a low-cost option to store data that supports a variety of use cases. The resulting insights can help lawyers and enterprise users better understand client needs, build better relationships, create more informed and tailored services, and much more.

Benefits Of Data Lakes In Legal Environments

Lawyers can combine data from billing, matter and contract management, and CRM tools with court records, discovery data, and other outside sources. This helps to analyze complex legal issues, improve processes, and gain insights into current industry trends.

Predictive data models can help to identify potential legal risks and plan for litigation, with clarity into the business context of legal issues to develop more effective legal strategies.

Warehouses are great for predefined purposes like finance and business operations reporting. Lakes help answer strategic questions. Both can provide soaring new levels of insights and control over data quality and analytics.

What do you want to jump into first, a data lake or a warehouse?


Olga MackOlga V. Mack is the VP at LexisNexis and CEO of Parley Pro, a next-generation contract management company that has pioneered online negotiation technology. Olga embraces legal innovation and had dedicated her career to improving and shaping the future of law. She is convinced that the legal profession will emerge even stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive than before by embracing technology. Olga is also an award-winning general counsel, operations professional, startup advisor, public speaker, adjunct professor, and entrepreneur. She founded the Women Serve on Boards movement that advocates for women to participate on corporate boards of Fortune 500 companies. She authored Get on Board: Earning Your Ticket to a Corporate Board SeatFundamentals of Smart Contract Security, and  Blockchain Value: Transforming Business Models, Society, and Communities. She is working on Visual IQ for Lawyers, her next book (ABA 2023). You can follow Olga on Twitter @olgavmack.


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