Today, the first UK law firm to list on the stock market, Slater & Gordon, which has a focus on ‘High Street’ legal services, has extended its partnership with finance company VFS Legal Funding, by £10m ($13m) – with some of that cash going toward new consumer-facing technology, as well as data science work on case outcome prediction.
Slater & Gordon got into trouble in 2016 and the UK arm of the Australia-based legal services company was spun off from the listed organisation in 2017. Since then the firm in the UK has been largely owned by US-based Anchorage Capital. Meanwhile, the VFS finance group had previously provided £20m in funding to the firm.
For some readers outside of the UK, and especially those in the US, this scenario no doubt seems quite unusual, i.e. a regulated law firm that was once part of a larger listed entity, that then is spun off, then ends up owned by an investment fund based in New York, and now is taking additional funding from a specialist investment company.
But, that’s the world of UK legal services – or at least one part of it. And, it’s worth noting that the UK firm has since stabilised and has offices across the country. It generated revenues of £222m in 2018. In short, despite the non-traditional ownership model, it appears to be prospering again.
In terms of the tools they want to invest in, the firm said: ‘[We will invest in] tools to improve and digitalise the customer experience as part of the organisation’s ongoing transformation work.’
Artificial Lawyer asked if they could expand on this a bit and they set out the following below. Especially interesting is the bit about using data scientists for case prediction.
- Slater and Gordon has made an investment of £6.7 million [so far] in technology initiatives, as the first phase of a three-year programme to enable the business to digitalise legal services and integrate onto a single case management platform
- It will develop new platforms for customers that will make the process of following a claim and submitting paperwork easier
- The business has also created a new team of data scientists who are providing fresh insight to better resource and plan for case outcomes, based on probability as well as experience.
- Slater & Gordon has also completed the roll out of Microsoft Managed Desktop. The firm now uses Surface Pros, accessed via facial recognition, further enhancing data security and enabling a more flexible approach to working
- In 2018, Slater & Gordon also announced its partnership with LegalShield to launch the LegalDefence app, to allow subscribers to access UK-based qualified legal advisers via smartphone 24 hours a day, with a chatbot service to answer common legal questions
David Whitmore (pictured above), Chief Executive Officer, Slater & Gordon, added: ‘We are committed to providing the very best in legal services. To achieve this, we are always exploring different ways to make our customers’ experience better whether through great talent, investing in technology or through innovative partnerships.’
It’s good to see a consumer-focused firm looking more at tech to help their clients – as the consumer area is huge and the firms that serve it generally have not invested in new tech, whether for outward-facing or internal efficiency improvement needs.
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