clifford-chance-canary-wharfNeota Logic at the start of November won Clifford Chance as a client, with its sophisticated decision tree software currently being used to help advise clients on forthcoming regulatory changes but likely to be applied more widely going forward.

In common with many major law firms, Clifford Chance is trying to find ways to help its financial institutions clients tackle the vast work needed to be done to comply with new margin variation rules in the Over the Counter derivatives sector.

The deal with Neota arose after Clifford Chance’s chief information officer Paul Greenwood approached cofounder and chief strategy officer Michael Mills at the start of the summer.

Greenwood told Legal IT Insider: “A client of ours needs us to look at a lot of contracts in the derivatives space and what we want to try to do is capture the thought process of the leading partner in his field and codify that into software, which will be a tremendous tool for us.”

The leading partner is Jeremy Walter, who is working with Neota, which is fast establishing a reputation for the unusual depth of its solution.

Greenwood says: “There is plenty of decision tree software out there but it usually relies on a ‘yes or no’ answer, when a lawyer normally says ‘it depends’. What we like about Neota is that their software allows you get into that grey area and can adapt as you go along; its flexible like that.”

He adds: “If you have a complicated piece of advice or judgment but you want to do it over again and you want to make it scalable, Neota is a tool that potentially allows us to do that.”

Clifford Chance is hoping that Walter’s expertise combined with Neota’s tool will give it a market leading edge.

The project forms part of a wider innovation drive across the 3010-lawyer firm and Greenwood says: “Our collaboration with Neota Logic should be seen in the context of our overall strategy. Our new managing partner Matthew Layton made innovation one of his goals and one big strand is what we’re calling our delivery tool kit, which means that when we’re working with clients, we have a portfolio of tools that make us as efficient as can be and give us an advantage over other firms.”

Other parts of the tool kit include Kira Systems and ContractExpress, and as Clifford Chance starts to think about how it knits its tech together, it is easy to see a world in which Kira identifies relevant content in a document; Neota tells you how regulation affects that document; and ContractExpress produces a contract.

Greenwood said: “It’s easy to imagine how those tools will work together and that is obviously the next stage to look at.”

He adds: “The thing I have learned through our innovation pilot so far is that it is the combination of these advanced technology tools with very bright people that gives you the added value. The tools on their own only get you so far but the two together get a level of accuracy that you’ve never achieved.”

This article first appeared in the October/November Legal IT Newsletter – click here to sign up for your free copy