The challenge for law firms now is to hire and develop talented people with both legal and technology skills, according to Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) global head of alternative legal services Libby Jackson, who spearheaded the firm’s latest ‘pop-up’ in Perth document review project.
The new Perth operation, which is in pilot phase having been announced on 8 October, will initially service overflow work from HSF’s successful Belfast office and provide 24-hour document review for litigation, arbitration and investigations.
It follows the launch in June of a global alternative legal services business building on the success of Belfast, which was set up in April 2011 to provide document management and review and corporate due diligence, making HSF the first major law firm to launch a nearshoring venture.
Jackson told Legal IT Insider: “In our third year we looked at how we were going to globalise the model. I was thinking ‘how do we take a really fantastic solution from the nearshoring market through to a global platform and market around the world.’”
The new global alternative services business now incorporates Belfast and Perth together with the Australian information logistics (IL) team and London-based disputes data management services, to create a global team of 300. Jackson’s leadership team now includes newly-promoted Belfast director Lisa McLaughlin, head of IL Sinéad Burke and Bernard Bailey, currently head of integration UK, who will lead on the integration and expansion of the global client technology teams.
The alternative services team notably offers advanced eDiscovery and client data technology services, working with companies including Recommind and kCura on document review and analysis, including predictive coding. HSF is working with Recommind to develop natural language searches that often fall into the camp loosely described as artificial intelligence.
High profile clients include Reckitt Benckiser (RB) in an action brought by the NHS for abuse of market position in relation to RB’s supply of Gaviscon.
Jackson, whose global team is a mixture of lawyers and technologists and often an overlap of the two, said: “The provision of global alternative legal products and services, aligned with legal technology solutions, remains at the heart of the innovation agenda for us.”
She added: “The talent challenge now falls around legal skills where they overlap with technology. We have to grab the opportunity now.”