DWF Ventures’ Chief, Jonathan Patterson, Calls For Client Data Standards

DWF Ventures’ Managing Director, Jonathan Patterson, has called on industry players to work together to create legal data standards in order to remove inefficiency for clients and firms. The goal is to reduce what are ‘hundreds of different bespoke processes‘ providing similar types of data to the same clients.

His key point is that large clients especially, such as banks, are working with a wide range of law firms and ALSPs, each using their own methodology when it comes to reporting back to the client legal information related to their matters.

‘At what point does it become cost ineffective for everybody to do their own thing, to customise everything?’ he said in an interview with Artificial Lawyer. 

Patterson explained: ‘Let us just take the big UK banks, [for example]. They’ve got a supply chain of legal providers that probably runs into the hundreds…[with] each provider doing something the way they do it, and then reporting the data from what they do in a customised fashion.’

Each firm doing the same thing differently for that bank is inefficient, he stressed.

‘[The problem is in] having effectively hundreds of different bespoke processes providing hundreds of different categories of data to one customer like Barclays, who probably has very similar needs to other customers that have a similar profile.

‘[Whereas] there’s probably a set of information or data that is pretty commonly useful across all the banks that doesn’t need to be customised to a Barclays or a Lloyds,’ he added.

With everyone agreeing to standard ways of presenting this information everyone wins; the firms and the clients, as there is no competitive advantage to anyone in having such a messy and irregular way of doing things.

Patterson told Artificial Lawyer that the idea will be expanded on at an event this week, where four different potential challenge areas will be put to the market, and where they will be asked: do any of these stimulate enough interest to come together and see what we can come up with a standard?

The development comes on the back of the 2019 Legal Design Challenge, an initiative which promoted the idea of using collaboration and design principles to improve contracting.

The 2019 Challenge was hosted by DWF, LEx Open Source, Radiant Law and Wavelength Law.

In other legal sector news:

Crafty Counsel, the online learning & development (L&D) video provider for in-house legal teams, today launched its new online subscription service. The company previously had made all of its online resources free to access – now there will be a paid service for individuals and corporates.

The subscription service provides a structured learning capability for inhouse lawyers, who often report a lack of structured L&D services and tools in their workplace, the company said.

This, they added, follows a wider trend, with a recent study showing that 94% of employees would stay in a company longer if it invested in their learning and development.

Ben White, Founder & CEO of Crafty Counsel said: ‘The legal industry is lacking in accessible and structured learning and development resources. As I found in my own legal career, training does exist, but is usually expensive, hard to find, and often not putting the needs of the in-house lawyer front and centre.’


  1. Clients can and many already do control this. They can dictate how and what their panel firms share with them as regards metrics. They can dictate systems and technologies that their outside counsel must use.

  2. There are a number of initiatives aimed at creating legal data standards. From the perspective of being open, the Standards Advancement For The Legal Industry (SALI) is perhaps the most prominent in terms of what it trying do and the traction that is getting although it might not be the most publicised.

    Its members already include law firms, legal tech suppliers and businesses that have substantial in-house council divisions.

    SALI has been in-flight since 2017 and have already released a set of Legal Matter Specification Standards. These support standardisation in the way that legal work is described and are open and free. This summer Microsoft became the first official user.

    As a platform for delivering the ideas that are described in this article it is worth a look.

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