Zev Eigen never thought he’d end up working at a traditional law firm again after he decided in 2005 to study behavioral and policy sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

But now, armed with a Ph.D., Eigen has rejoined Littler Mendelson, where he began his legal career as an associate in 1999. This time around, however, he has assumed a new role: the firm’s first national director of data analytics.

“At that time, I think my goal was to really get good at research and honing social science research skills,” said Eigen, who joined Littler’s Century City office last week. “I just wanted to be the best possible researcher I could.”

But as he did more and more research at MIT, Eigen said he quickly realized how valuable data analytics could be for the legal profession.

“I started out by doing damage assessments for class-actions,” he said. “Once you start looking at data in those settings, you realize how much can be done – if done properly – to help clients minimize risk.”

Littler, too, saw vast opportunities in combining data analytics with the practice of employment law. The firm also launched the Littler Data Center last week, which Eigen will lead.

In his new role, Eigen he help the firm use data to increase operational efficiencies, or what he calls “the moneyballing of law practice.” Similarly, he will work with Littler’s business clients to incorporate data analytics into decision-making.

Eigen could, for example, help a client’s human resources department comb through years of timekeeping records that could help it make more cost-efficient staffing decisions, he said.

That same data, he said, could also come into play if a company should ever face litigation over wage and hour laws.

“There has been a huge explosion in how data can be analyzed,” Eigen said. “I think we’re going to keep finding so many things that make us better lawyers and practitioners, and our clients will be better served.”

Legal App

Have you ever wondered how California’s strict wage and hour laws compare with those in other states? Well there’s an app for that now, thanks to Epstein Becker & Green.

The firm last month released an updated version of its Wage & Hour Guide for Employers app, which includes summaries of regulations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, plus federal laws.

EBG launched the app in 2012 but it only included legal summaries for federal law, the eight states where the firm has offices and local laws governing the nation’s capital, said Michael Kun, chairman of the firm’s wage and hour practice group in Century City.

Even though EBG doesn’t have offices in every state, Kun said the firm decided to use only its attorneys to conduct research and compile summaries.

“There’d be a certain amount of irony in us creating an app to show employers our knowledge of wage and hour law if we had contracted it out,” he said. “It ended up being a fairly tremendous undertaking.”

But, he said, it was well worth it.

The app, which is available on Apple, Android and Blackberry devices, is free to download and doesn’t include ads. It’s not intended to generate revenue directly, he said, but it’s a marketing tool designed to bring in new clients.

“It has helped us not only solidify our clients but it has also helped us develop our relationships with new clients,” Kun said. “There are clients we are representing in wage-hour class-actions because of this app. … Whatever the cost of this app, we made it back the first time we brought in a new client.”

Crisis Management

Herbert Dodell has heard hundreds of restraining-order requests since he became a judge in Los Angeles Superior Court in 2008.

“Some of them are entertaining, they really are,” Dodell said. “I’ve had someone say, ‘She’s an alien,’ and that a bird is squawking too loud. … I’ve got stories I could tell you that are really fantastic.”

But of the 16 or so cases he hears each day, Dodell estimated only 5 percent are workplace related. That’s because many employers don’t realize they can request a restraining order when they suspect a disgruntled employee – or former employee – might pose a serious threat.

“Employers have an obligation to protect their employees and they’re not doing it,” he said, “and I think that’s the problem.”

Indeed, Dodell said it’s quite possible that last month’s deadly shootings of two journalists in Roanoke, Va., could have been prevented if their employer had requested a restraining order against the alleged gunman.

“It certainly deters and defers what could have happened if they got a restraining order,” he said. “It also reduces their liability exposure because they can usually say they did everything they could to prevent it. … It’s an unknown remedy.”

Staff reporter Cale Ottens can be reached at cottens@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 221.

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