by George Nott

Law firm encodes minds of top lawyers for prescriptive analytics pilot

Mar 13, 2017
Risk Management

Leading corporate law firm Gilbert + Tobin is “encoding the mindset” of its senior practitioners as part of a prescriptive analytics pilot.

The firm is working with Australian software provider Veriluma to build an analytics platform which will predict legal risk based on various data sources and the modelled expertise of its top lawyers.

Prescriptive analytics is a form of forward-looking analytics which provides assessments about future outcomes. While traditional analytics assist the decision making process, prescriptive analytics deliver a preferred course of action.

The exact area of law the tool is working on hasn’t been disclosed but is time and resource intensive, concerns multiple stakeholders and often involves media scrutiny, Veriluma added.

“[The pilot] has the potential to bridge the gap between data and expertise and draw on the strengths of both,” said Petra Stirling, G+T’s head of legal capability and transformation. “The aim is to test the theory that a discreet portion of expertise can be made available to experts who are less mature in their experience.”

The pilot draws from public or firm-held data as well as the encoded expertise of senior lawyers and allows G+T to quickly develop a preliminary view of the probable success of a transaction or legal case. And as new information becomes available over time – through a process of due diligence or a forensic analysis of systems for instance – it can be fed into the model to adjust the prediction.

“What our software is doing is really tapping into human reasoning,” explains Veriluma CEO Elizabeth Whitelock. “From a lawyers perspective in the legal world you’re tapping into legal expertise. You’re taking all the things they would maybe do and spends hours and weeks and months doing, and putting it into a system that allows us to repeat that human decision process.

“G+T are seeing if they can streamline the process of getting to a place where they can give a recommendation and advice to their client. We know what the process is and we know what has to be performed. If you put it into a system what you then do is create a process that is replicable, consistent and transparent,” Whitelock added.

Pointy-end expertise

G+T’s innovation team – g+t lt;igt; – are now exploring how the pilot might be used at scale.

“Our minimum viable product is quite a discreet area of expertise, an area of expertise which we’ll look to broaden out so you can give a fuller risk profile and draw on more data. We start with something very simple that we can prove, a hypothesis we can test. We’ll do a bit of market testing internally and build out the product from there,” Stirling said.

The pilot has the potential to free-up the time of senior staff, Stirling added, so they can focus on more strategic tasks.

“It leaves our experts to focus on the more strategic or pointy-end components of the work that our clients seek from us. And the increasingly complex environments our clients are working in – particularly in financial services and the broader corporate market – that strategic expertise is being more called upon. Rather than the fundamentals of law in years gone by which are things like discovery processes for litigation and due diligence processes for transactions,” she said.

Last year, in an Australian first for a major law firm, G+T sought patent protection for solutions which automate and streamline manual and time consuming legal tasks relating to database searching and aspects of corporate transactions. In time, a product based on prescriptive analytics could be offered directly to clients, Stirling said.

“We haven’t yet taken it to a phase of client accessibility but we are quite well known in the market for patenting our own technology and making that available to our clients so I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility that it could be client facing,” she said.