Tuesday 21 November 2017

McCann Fitzgerald aims for boost from AI

 

Irish law firm McCann Fitzgerald is aiming to start licensing technology to clients, in a revenue-boosting move that would represent a significant departure from the traditional way law firms make money. Stock photo
Irish law firm McCann Fitzgerald is aiming to start licensing technology to clients, in a revenue-boosting move that would represent a significant departure from the traditional way law firms make money. Stock photo
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Irish law firm McCann Fitzgerald is aiming to start licensing technology to clients, in a revenue-boosting move that would represent a significant departure from the traditional way law firms make money.

The firm has just signed a partnership with Neota Logic, an American firm that makes artificial intelligence (AI) software, to explore ways to come up with products that create value for McCann Fitzgerald clients. "We're now at a crossroads of legal innovation. We can either forge ahead and embrace technology, which is what we're doing, or we can slowly become irrelevant," McCann Fitzgerald managing partner Barry Devereux told the Sunday Independent.

McCann has established an internal unit, the Data Investigations Group, which manages the use of AI for reviewing large numbers of documents. It started out in the area of discovery - the process whereby the parties to a legal dispute exchange documentary evidence - and has now been expanded to corporate transactions such as IPOs, mergers and acquisitions, and loan book sales. Devereux said that using AI in this way can be as much as 30pc to 40pc cheaper.

He said that in one example, the firm reduced 11m documents that were of potential relevance in a matter down to 11,000 within six weeks.

The firm has also recently rolled out a service it calls Knowledge Hub, where it collates data on particular topics and sends alerts to clients depending on the area they're interested in.

"We used to compete with other Dublin law firms. We still do. But now our competitors are different and they come from the United States - it might be legal process outsourcing firms like Axiom, and Riverview Law, and they're providing alternate legal services to clients with different models," said Devereux.

"With the global economic crisis in 2008, that's accelerated the rate of progress that law firms have had to make because all our clients have faced existential threats to their business and the 'more for less' philosophy is now with us."

Sunday Indo Business

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