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Bernard: lawyers impressed

Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, is trialing software that helps to predict the likely course, cost, length and outcome of litigation, Legal Futures can reveal.

Its NextLaw Labs subsidiary – whose task is to reinvent the business of law with technology – is working with Paris-based start-up Prédictice, and Marie Bernard, NextLaw’s strategic adviser, said that so far its lawyers have been “really impressed” with the results.

Prédictice claims that the application of machine learning techniques to case law will allow it to extract a statistical analysis of litigation probability. It says this will eventually be used to “optimise litigation strategies by comparing their chance of success and identifying success levers”.

Speaking at a Law Society civil litigation section conference yesterday, Ms Bernard – who is also Dentons’ director of innovation – said that by leveraging open data, the system can scan the case law “in a matter of seconds”.

It can chart various routes through a case and which have the best chances of success, and could point towards alternative dispute resolution rather than litigation.

Ms Bernard said it also allowed the lawyer to price according to risk. “This is what artificial intelligence can bring,” she said, adding that she hoped to take it to other countries, including the UK.

Speaking afterwards to Legal Futures, Ms Bernard explained that there was a movement in the French legal community to create some form of charter on legal start-ups – agreed by lawyers, the national bar association, law schools and the start-ups themselves – that ensure they comply with certain regulatory and ethical requirements when developing their products.

NextLaw was set up last year and has three core objectives, she told the conference – co-developing products and solutions with Dentons’ clients, creating proprietary tools to be used within the firm, and investing in early stage legal tech companies “which address pain points in the market in a compelling way”. Ms Bernard said it had identified 200 ideas and start-ups of interest.

So far NextLaw has made three investments – in Ross Intelligence, a US company using IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence product to conduct legal research; Apperio, a UK-based startup that is streamlining matter management for law firms; and most recently Doxly, a secure, cloud-based platform that simplifies complex corporate legal transactions into automated and manageable tasks.


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