Gowling WLG has within the past six months rolled out disputes decision theory tool Eperoto across its Canadian offices, we can reveal. Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Toronto partner and commercial litigation head Scott Kugler said that he started working with Eperoto in the second half of 2022, launching it to 300 litigators in April 2023.
Founded in Sweden in 2019, Eperoto helps lawyers to take the guess work out of assessing the outcome and quantum of disputes. Where traditionally, even in very high value legal disputes, advice boils down to phrases such as “we think we have a good chance of success”, Eperoto users instead build decision tree structures and other models to create assessments based on factors such as potential damages, interest rates, legal fees, and probability of success.
Kugler, who also heads Gowling’s Class Action Defence Group, said that he had put the firm’s innovation team on notice to look out for an application that could apply decision tree software to help his team visualise the steps needed to be successful and, if possible, help them to quantify the risks associated with each step. He says: “In part it was to help guide lawyers’ thinking, but in part because I wanted to be able to provide a more graphic display of the risk profile to the client.”
After trialling a number of competitive offerings, the firm settled on Eperoto, which has taken part in both Allen & Overy’s tech incubator Fuse, and Mannheimer Swartling’s Innovation Lab.
Kugler says that Gowling has created ‘super users’ who are trained to use Eperoto. Beyond that they have two groups of people: lawyers who want to be trained to use it themselves; and lawyers who don’t want to go through the training but want the assistance of a super user, who can help them to input the necessary data. Super users are a either a non-practising lawyer or project manager, who act as an interface.
Kugler says: “The feedback has been good. With all new software it takes time for people to give it a try and it’s not something you would use on a day-to-day basis, perhaps you’d use it once at the outset and then revisit it before a mediation or settlement negotiation. It comes up at strategic points in the case to help with key decisions such as should we proceed or not? Should we take this to trial or not?”
He adds: “The best use for me has been prior to engaging in a settlement negotiation. It reports on the likelihood of success or failure and the severity of quantum. Are you going to win or lose; which issues are easy and which are hard; and if you lose, what is the loss likely to be.”
This is a tool to supplement, not replace lawyers’ opinion letters, but, Kugler says, “It ensures more rigour. It makes sure that you go through all the steps and it provides a nice cross check. If it comes in higher, we might go back and find out why. It’s been very helpful with clients and I’m surprised by how keen they are to see it. It’s not a replacement for an opinion letter but it displays it graphically, which is very helpful for them.”
Gowling tested five or six competitor software offerings and found Eperoto to be the easiest and the most thorough, Kugler says. “Often ease of use means it is a high level programme that doesn’t get into the weeds, but this isn’t a high level overview and it’s not only into the weeds but graphically pleasing to clients,” he said.
Eperoto is founded by CEO Olof Heggemann, a former lawyer and district court judge, together with CTO Emmanouil Karystinos; solutions architect Johan Thelin; and head of product, Dimitrios Zarkadas. It currently has around 20 customers, of which most are law firms in Scandinavia, but the company has expanded its reach into the US, Canada, and the UK.