AI-based service aims to get litigation clients past lawyers’ caveats

Nick Pryor: Many commercial disputes turn on “he said, she said” type facts

A leading law firm has launched a service that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse large quantities of data quickly and minimise the “caveats” relied on by lawyers when assessing early stage disputes.

Nick Pryor, regional innovation solutions director for EMEA at UK/US firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP), said the ability of lawyers to work closely with technologists was “critical” to the success of Clear/Cut.

“We are trying to elevate the things we understand at an early stage, so we can give advice without too many caveats.

“Predictive coding technology is becoming well-established, but it’s all about how you train it and the context in which you use it.

“Litigation has many risks and there are always factors outside anyone’s control, but we are trying to reduce that.”

Clear/Cut can handle up to 5GB, or between 30 and 60,000 emails, and for most cases produce an assessment report on a dispute in two weeks.

Its “data interrogation tools”, including machine learning and predictive coding, identify relevant information for analysis by BCLP’s litigation team.

Mr Pryor said many commercial disputes turned on “he said, she said” type facts, whether they were arguments over contractual interpretation, misrepresentation or possible fraud allegations.

He said the first step was for project managers to “scope out” the dispute and determine whether it was suitable for Clear/Cut.

Following approval from the firm’s partners, lawyers would train the service’s AI tools to find “the documents that really dig into the heart of the case”.

Mr Pryor said Clear/Cut had been tested with a FTSE 100 client, and used to advise on a real dispute.

“The tool clearly understood the sort of exchanges between our client and third parties indicating this kind of dispute. It found documents relating to a very similar dispute between the client and another supplier.”

Mr Pryor said Clear/Cut used graphs, tables and timelines in its reports to try and get lawyers past the written word as the sole means of communication.

“We would much rather clients know the situation than get a fair way through before discovering the difficulties

“We want to help them spend their limited legal budgets as smartly as they can. The early decision point is very tough. We’re trying to make it less painful.”

Mr Pryor predicted that the next milestone in the progress of AI would be the arrival of “useful data sets” from previous commercial disputes, for example professional negligence or insurance, based not just on published judgments but on data from throughout the litigation life-cycle.

“I am really optimistic that at some point we will have robust data analytics based on past disputes. Some technologies are very close.”

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