As Alexander Oddy, a disputes partner at Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), explained to this site: ‘I was watching an Artificial Lawyer TV Product Walk Through of Neota Logic and thought: we can build something for legal privilege with this.’ And after three weeks they had a working Beta version.
As Oddy noted, the speed of development was accelerated because they already had a logic tree they used for this kind of problem: namely how to decide if a document is legally privileged or not, i.e. if it can be made public.
Oddy decided to use Neota to digitise this logic tree, and after asking around internally found several other people at the firm who had also thought about building some type of app, or expert system, to help with this thorny matter. So, they went to work on it and came up with a solution quite quickly. Over the summer they refined the UI and it is now live and ready for client use.
Oddy noted that the development of the app would help clients with single documents, rather than for bulk review, and that it would also help the firm’s own associates to learn more about the process of deciding if a document is privileged.
‘This will take the burden off inhouse lawyers, and we hope to replicate this in other areas. The project may also inspire others across the firm to do similar things [in their practice areas],’ he said.
For example, while this is for English law, there has been interest from the firm in Australia to do the same there.
In terms of how it works, the tool ‘guides users through a short series of questions and then uses the answers to analyse whether a document is likely to be covered by legal advice privilege and/or litigation privilege under English law’.
‘Notes providing guidance and interpretation of relevant case law are accessible directly from the question screens. Once all the necessary questions have been answered, an on-screen report provides a summary of the answers given and the likely privilege status of the document,’ the firm explained.
HSF has built other digital solutions for clients. Most recently a cross-practice team of lawyers and technologists teamed up with the Financial Conduct Authority to design and build a solution to help businesses impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic check to see if they’re potentially eligible to make a claim under their insurance policies.
Last year, HSF also developed a new inhouse pricing tool, which uses machine learning technology to predict how much a new case is likely to cost.
You can find the privilege tool here.
Event News: It’s great to see that AL TV has inspired the creation of this application. If you found this inspiring then come along to the Legal Innovators event in London, October 21 and 22. Tickets are on sale now.