Legal Data Talent War Heats Up With Kennedys Hires

Global insurance law firm Kennedys is expanding its focus on legal data science with the hire of two more experts to its team, as the battle for machine learning and unstructured legal data talent heats up.

The firm, which has been something of a pioneer in exploiting data analysis for its international insurance clients, also hired Karim Derrick as Head of Research and Development in 2016 and formed a partnership with India’s Cognitive Computing Services, based in Kerala to help with machine learning efforts last year.

The news comes as several legal AI companies in the UK have stepped up their hiring of top data science talent, for example, Eigen Technologies, following a massive investment in the company. Other law firms, such as Clyde & Co, have also developed legal data teams. All this adds to a battle for talent that is in short supply.

The new recruits are: Dr Xi Liu (pictured above), who has joined Kennedys as part of its Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Manchester to develop next-generation fraud prevention software, which the firm announced at the end of last year.

And also, Dr Harvey Maddocks, who has a broader remit to develop the use of data across all of Kennedys’ technology products for its insurance clients.

Dr Liu has two PhDs, one in applied statistics and another in computer science with business. She is a specialist in quantitative research methods and machine learning techniques.

Dr Maddocks has a PhD in particle physics and brings both academic and tech sector experience in data analysis, data mining, statistics and software development and machine learning.

The firm said that the hires ‘will allow Kennedys to employ modern machine learning and text analytics techniques to develop its Kifraud detection and intelligence tool into a world-class, globally-used product – as well as to bring the benefit of contemporary predictive analytics to its full portfolio of innovations’.

Derrick, Head of Research and Development at Kennedys, said: ‘This is a very significant development for Kennedys which has the potential not only to take our intelligence capabilities to a new level, but to allow us to explore how we can use the same techniques and data in other areas for our broad cross-section of global insurer clients.’

The firm has also launched an Ideas Lab, an in-house internal incubation programme to encourage the generation of new, client-focused ideas.

One of the firm’s key products, which has helped act as a catalyst for this development in legal data analysis and machine learning is their landmark KLAiM platform, an award-winning ‘virtual lawyer’ and online claims litigation tool.

Richard West, who has been the main driver behind the firm’s innovation strategy and who is also Head of the firm’s Liability Division, said:  ‘We’ve achieved a great deal for clients …. but if we are to take it to the next level and create significant, business-changing outcomes for our clients, we need to develop our use of statistics, data and modern machine learning.’