Foley Mansfield goes live with Verify from Zero Systems for gen AI pre-bill review

US national defense law firm Foley Mansfield has gone live with generative AI pre-bill verification tool Verify and today (15 May) joined the team from Zero Systems on stage at Elite Vantage to talk about their usage of and time savings from the new product. 

Speaking from the stage, Foley’s managing partner Joseph Rejano told the Vantage audience: “Our partners had to spend an enormous amount of time reviewing pre-bills each month. Now, with the Verify solution, I can focus on the items AI highlights for me to review. What used to take days now takes minutes.”

Director of technology services, Terry Pressley added: “Deployment of Verify was so easy and didn’t take much time from our team. Now, it is seamlessly integrated into our processes.” Foley has rolled out Verify firmwide. This win wasn’t public until today.

Verify analyses outside counsel guidelines as well as historical billing data stored in the likes of Elite and Aderant, using that data to then highlight mistakes in pre-bills that will fall foul of agreed policies such as block billing, vague narratives or excessive time. Whereas many tools stop there, Verify suggests changes to bring pre-bills back into compliance, which you can accept or reject with one click, increasing realisation rates by around 6%. 

Zero Systems’ CEO Alex Babin told Legal IT Insider: “We are seeing around 6% of revenue that would be written off recovered. For a firm with a billion-dollar revenue, a 6% overnight increase in realisation is huge. Verify also reduces pre-bill review time by around 50%.” 

Verify is a multi-model system leveraging proprietary models. Some of the base models, such as Mistral 7B and Llama, are used for interpreting unstructured data with in-context learning capabilities. Additionally, smaller, heavily fine-tuned specialist models like RoBERTa and transformer models pre-trained for producing high-quality vector representation are employed for high volume/high accuracy tasks such as verification. All LLMs are leveraged locally and data doesn’t leave the firm’s security perimeter. 

Giving a demonstration of Verify to Legal IT Insider ahead of Vantage, group product manager and Verify product lead Mariam Hambarchyan emphasised that this last point around security has been core to the development process. “One really important piece of our philosophy has been not to let any data leave the system,” she said. “The security perimeter is really important to law firms and I know there’s some other folks looking at this problem and leveraging OpenAI Services and APIs to solve it but most law firms aren’t going to be comfortable with their sensitive financial data, which is their most important and confidential data, leaving their security perimeter.”

As law firms look at ways to improve their margins, the pre-bill process is a considerable pain point and large firms are losing millions of dollars a year due to non-compliance with OCGs. Hambarchyan said: “The bigger you are, the more money you lose. On average, out of your 100% invoice, firms will get only 85% of it. That’s pretty heartbreaking. The other side of it is that the clients are so frustrated they are calling up partners and saying, ‘Have you not read the OCG rules we sent you?’ Attorneys may have been given a summary but they are working with hundreds of clients. It’s not that they don’t want to be compliant, it’s humanly impossible to retain hundreds of different rules in your mind, so it’s a really tough ask of attorney and partners to have this level of compliance without help.”

She adds: “Others have tried to solve it but the previous attempts were never good enough and pre-bill review is in people’s top three of hated things. The pre-bill that goes out is indicative of the client relationship and the attorney wants to show value. Some partners are spending up to a week a month just cleaning up invoices, so imagine how much billable work they are losing.”

Law firms have typically thrown people at the problem instead of using technology to solve it but Hambarchyan observes: “In light of generative AI and large language models, this is a perfect problem that could be solved with technology.” 

Verify highlights where a time entry narrative violates the OCGs and suggests an alternative such as splitting block billing entries. Users can reject or accept the alternative and Hambarchyan says: “You can accept a fix or you can dismiss it, so there is always a human in the loop and the partner is in control of what they are accepting or dismissing. And every time they interact with the AI it’s learning so over time the models get better and better.”

 

Verify, which is part of Zero’s revenue optimisation platform Hercules.ai, was launched this year but has been in development for over year, with multiple pilots running. Foley is fully live and Verify is said to be Zero’s fastest growing product. 

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