City law firm Taylor Wessing has launched a division offering pioneering technology to handle data mining, contract management and due diligence as a “value-added” alternative to legal process outsourcing (LPO).
Working with document and information management specialist Swiss Post Solutions, the firm says that in trials it delivered efficiency savings of at least 60% on the cost of core business and legal processes.
Called New Street Solutions and supported by fee-earners ranging from partners to paralegals, it will be available to clients from next month. It is aimed at organisations involved in the investment, purchase, sale and ongoing management of companies; corporates considering acquisition or divestment; and all institutions managing multiple contracts with customers and suppliers.
Tim Stocks, head of the financial institutions and markets team at Taylor Wessing and chairman of New Street Solutions, said: “Unlike other initiatives that have sought efficiencies by sending volume legal work to lower-cost jurisdictions, New Street Solutions aims to enhance the value-added aspect of legal services. This is about using technology to work smarter, not just cheaper.”
He explained that one added value of the service is that it can create intelligence out of the due diligence process, helping companies draw out business opportunities and risks highlighted by the documents.
Mr Stocks said Taylor Wessing considered various options but decided that LPO would not provide “a long-term solution with a quality guarantee”. He said: “Quality control and communications concerns are an inevitable feature of offshore outsourcing programmes, and the immediate advantage of cheap labour may be eroded over time as wage demands or inflation push up prices in those countries or a weakened sterling balancing out any low labour costs.”
He claimed the system can perform transaction due diligence “faster, better and cheaper than any existing provider”. He continued: “Further, it is also designed to offer proactive business support through its active contract/document management and data mining systems. This includes management of key dates, such as loan covenant tests or rent reviews, with reminders sent out to ensure none are ever missed.
“Moreover, digitised documents can be analysed in greater depth, meaning management teams using the service will have more information at their disposal when making key decisions. New contracts are quickly assessed in the same framework, meaning greater clarity and consistency for the business.”
The first step of the process is the secure digitisation of documents. The use of Swiss Post’s platforms then facilitates the extraction, unification, indexing and interpretation of the documents.
Mr Stocks predicted that New Street Solutions will “profoundly transform the way legal services are delivered”. He said testing “consistently demonstrated that it delivers the highest standards of quality and security within a much quicker timeframe. It irons out process inefficiencies and enables clients to manage costs through the use of technology whilst gaining access to a more comprehensive and consistent service in many areas.
“With a more efficient process, legal experts can invest more time in understanding client businesses and providing value-added services – a win-win situation.”
Swiss Post’s Philip Learmont, who is chief executive of New Street Solutions, said the technology was unique. “The platform we use will be built on to add further value to clients as their service requirements change over time. We strongly believe this is just the start of a much larger transformation project that will revolutionise the way the legal profession operates.”
Mr Stocks said that in time New Street Solutions could spin off onto its “own journey”, which could include selling the technology to private equity businesses or even smaller law firms that do not have the capability to conduct due diligence on transactions of a certain size.