This article is also published in The Lawyer here
'There is no such thing as a digital strategy, just strategy in a digital world'
It is hard to argue with the well-rehearsed marketing strapline above in sectors such as retail, but to what extent is it true of a global disputes practice? A review of The Lawyer Global Litigation Top 50 2018 report reveals that digital technology is driving change in the world’s largest litigation practices. With the exception of e-disclosure platforms, most of the technology is relatively new and evolving, so the challenge for firms is choosing which solutions to back.
With nearly a thousand disputes lawyers in Eversheds Sutherland, our technology priorities vary depending on geography and practice area. So how should firms invest to support these diverse needs? A Benthamite consideration of what will bring the greatest good to the greatest number of clients is a good starting place. Some developments in litigation technology are fascinating, but do not necessarily have a place on our list because they are too niche or their application is insufficiently developed. Take the CaseCruncher experiment hosted by Kennedys last year. Lawyers from a number of firms were provided details of anonymised PPI cases that had already been determined by the Financial Ombudsman Service and asked to assess whether or not the claim should succeed. The lawyers got 62 per cent right. AI platform CaseCruncher reviewed the same cases and had a success rate of 87 per cent. The machine analysed 20,000 cases in the time it took the small army of lawyers to review 775. Remarkable, but for most international litigation practices this technology solves problems we simply do not have.
The same is true of Big Data more generally. Lex Machina has a place in the US market, where it is applying analytics to widely available judgments to help drive decision-making. But outside the US that data is not generally available. So it is not yet a tool that can transform service delivery for my teams in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
The must-have technology solutions for most global litigation practices are likely to be built on three pillars – e-disclosure, legal project management and case collaboration platforms. Get these right and you have a litigation technology toolkit that will benefit your teams and clients.
E-disclosure platforms have been around a long time and are continuing to evolve. With providers from the transactional tech marketplace such as Luminance considering e-disclosure applications, there will be further change and consolidation in this market.
Our own partnership with OpenText to create the ES Locate review platform has been a success. With a cloud-based in-house platform we can offer clients a very different proposition. ES Locate has now been used on 117 mandates by 577 users across a dozen jurisdictions and we have processed 241 million pieces of electronic information A comprehensive e-disclosure solution is essential for any global litigation practice.
Legal project management
Legal project management platforms are ten a penny, but few have been developed to support a litigation practice. This is understandable given that the fundamentals of good project management are the same regardless of work type. Having recently reviewed and trialled 20-plus platforms in sandbox environments, it is clear that what might work well for an M&A deal requires a considerable amount of development before it provides the same benefit for a five-week High Court trial. You need to bring together lawyers, project managers, finance teams and technologists to deliver a full solution.
Case collaboration platforms
If technology-aided review in e-disclosure is the rock star of litigation technology, a shared cloud infrastructure for collaboration between lawyers, counsel, clients and experts is the unsung hero. This is transformative on large disputes and investigations. Functionality differs
between platforms but e-bundling, evidence annotation and paperless trial technology are the most common features. Rather than using these solutions at the back end of cases as they near trial, the way forward has to involve making them as routine as dealrooms in M&A. We recently showed one such platform to a number of clients and they were universally positive. We will shortly be announcing a partnership that will give us an enterprise- wide licence for this technology. We will use it on every case. As one of the great legal reformers of his time, Jeremy Bentham would doubtless approve.