BCLP launches ML-based fixed fee early case assessment service

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) has today (6 November) launched a fixed price early case assessment service that packages up its existing in-house forensic capability and machine learning technology with a legal advice wrapper spread across its London and Manchester offices.

Developed by BCLP’s litigation and corporate risk team in conjunction with its new global innovation group, Clear/Cut leverages eDiscovery technology used in-house such as Ringtail and other non-proprietary tools.

Clients will be required to provide around five gigabytes of data, which will be reviewed using Ringtail, after which legal guidance will be provided to help them evaluate whether to proceed.

The service is particularly targeted at cases that are not ‘bet the farm’ but in a difficult middle ground where what’s at stake is of value but also potentially costly to pursue.

Nick Pryor, regional innovation solutions director for EMEA, who led on the development of the platform alongside global innovation group head Katie DeBord and  Edward Coulson, a commercial disputes partner, told Legal IT Insider: “This service is built around the experience that our in-house forensic team has in using the platform and using predictive coding, which we’ve already had success in using.” BCLP this year won the first contested application to use predictive coding (Ringtail) as part of a substantial document review exercise, having acted in the 2016 Pyrrho case where predictive coding was approved for the first time by the English High Court.

Pryor said: “This isn’t some sort of proprietary technology but a packaged service around that capability.

“We’re trying to build the service from start to finish using a multi-disciplinary team. This is not just about lawyers working on hourly rates from the outset.”

Project managers will discuss with the client if the case is appropriate for Clear/Cut and whether the data set is right, after which the case will be project managed using a defined workflow that includes input from London and BCLP’s legal services delivery team in Manchester.

Pryor said: “Out the back of that we produce a legal analysis report and advice in a format and with a clarity and concision that clients are asking for. You have to fight lawyers’ natural instincts that more is better and our lawyers are very committed to doing that. We will be delivering a report that is shorter than usual to enable the client to take an informed decision.

“We are bringing that all together as a fixed fee service and the feedback from clients is that it gives them the comfort they need about whether to proceed, especially on matters that aren’t bet the farm but matters that might otherwise fall in that tricky middle ground and clients can’t afford to throw lots of money at.”

He adds: “This is never as simple as a binary ‘yes or no’ but the whole point to delivering this work is to improve the known known, and known unknown at the outset.”

While early case assessment isn’t new, it is rare to see law firms provide this kind of in-house packaged fixed price service. In a release out today, Pryor says: “Early trials of the service, including with a FTSE100 client, validated the strengths of our approach, and the results surpassed our expectations. We strongly believe that Clear/Cut will help in-house counsel make more confident decisions on how to respond to disputes and investigations.”