So what is the main reason for law firms being fired by in-house counsel?
According to in-house lawyers (in the US, at least), the main reason is that the firms fail to provide value.
The firms themselves, meanwhile, will say that the reason is budgetary – cost overruns and maybe the occasional lack of value.
But a new product from Thomson Reuters Westlaw Edge (no this is not a sponsored post, we didn’t even get invited to the Times Square launch) is aimed to right the ship for the fired firms by providing some much-need leverage to be employed by the vulnerable outside firms. As a tool to help provide added value and avoid being fired, its virtually a no-brainer.
So How Does It Work?
As usual in this day-and-age, the performance stats on Westlaw Edge are AI-based to a large extent. But lawyers don’t actually need to know how all that works. Thomson Reuters’ launched the product at their Manhatten offices, to an event we weren’t even invited to, what’s worse.
The reports however are good. The product essentially helps law firms to understand what their corporate clients are looking for. However the report from our friends over at ABA Journal indicate what Thomson Reuters see in their crafty, tech-heavy new product –
Andy Martens, global head of product and editorial, said that “continued belt-tightening will not be enough” to stabilize firms. He and his colleagues believe that enhanced research capabilities will improve attorney efficiency, which will increase a firm’s value to its clients. They cited surveys conducted with in-house attorneys finding that inefficiency and poor work quality are the top reasons why they change outside counsel.
And so its AI to the rescue, again. This time the software replaces what was previously machine-generated tags that were reviewed by human editors that are now based on algorithms that will improve with time. Westlaw’s Mike Dahn says that the software can tag overturned cases with an 80 to 85 per cent accuracy and the balance are generally cases that reasonable attorneys could argue.
Law Tech blogger Robert Ambrogi noted the key features of the new software thus –
- An enhanced, AI-powered version of the KeyCite citator that provides warnings that cases may no longer be good law in circumstances that traditional citators could not identify.
- WestSearch Plus, an AI-driven legal research tool that guides lawyers quickly to answers to specific legal questions.
- Integrated litigation analytics, providing detailed docket analytics covering judges, courts, attorneys and law firms, for both federal and state courts.
- Statutes Compare, a tool that allows researchers to compare changes to statutes.
One of the obvious advantages with the new technology is not so much the gee-whizz AI features but rather that it has a combination of easy functionality on the one hand and the rapid-fire ability to make key searches that many lawyers are handling manually already.
Using extensive logs, the Westlaw system helps provide answers to questions lawyers need by configuring the system to understand how lawyers ask their questions. This accordingly abbreviates the distance from question to answer – thus providing the all important high-value efficiency sought after by the client
So a hands-down sure bet for Westlaw, you might think.
Besides the web-based version, Westlaw Edge also released as an iPhone app but, to date, no Android option.