Law Firm and University Team up Again
Fletchers Group to push the AI boundaries further in the law, signing a new partnership with University of Liverpool computer science department
The new partnership will build on the Group’s earlier work on SIDSS (Structured Information Decision Support Systems), which Fletchers says has saved “tens of thousands of hours” in staff time previously spent deciding whether serious clinical negligence cases should be investigated and taken on by the firm.
Liverpool University’s computer science team is headed by Professor Katie Atkinson. Fletchers is sponsoring two PhD students to complete their doctorates by undertaking the research for the new project.
At the same time, Fletchers has appointed Noah Milton into a new role of AI Project Director to head up the development programme, and a new Head of Data Science, Quentin Debard has also been hired to complete the team.
Dan Taylor, Fletchers’ Director of Integration who led the creation of SIDSS, said the partnership with the University and the two new specialist appointments underscored the firm’s appetite to become a “pathfinder and innovator for the use of AI in the law.”
He explained the brief as “building on our experience with AI and ML tools (SIDSS) to improve the service we offer and bring better outcomes for our clients.”
Speaking about the vision for the upcoming project, Noah Milton said “We want to build and deploy tools which make use of the latest AI technologies, including Large Language Models (LLMs), to support our colleagues, improve automation of simple tasks, and bring our collective business expertise to our lawyers and make it work for every one of our clients.”
Citing examples of areas of particular focus, he noted: “Faster exploration of new cases, allowing us to consider more clients and widen access to justice, including where the claim might be low-value.”
“We’re also aiming for better outcomes if we are able to channel more legal expertise into each case, and better learning for our colleagues (from other cases and/or drawing on the experience of other legal teams).”
With the key players now appointed, the partnership will kick off in November 2023. Funding for the four year multi-million-pound project will be through Fletchers as part of its long-term commitment to AI research in the law to improve access to justice and client outcomes.
On behalf of the University of Liverpool, Professor Katie Atkinson said: “We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with Fletchers to build on our past successful project and keep pushing forward industrially relevant, cutting-edge research in AI. Fletchers’ forward-thinking approach in embracing innovation makes this an exciting project to be involved in.”
She added: “The PhD students will be working on research challenges for the development and delivery of explainable AI tools for law and the students will benefit from operating in an environment where academic research is being advanced to meet real-world challenges in the legal sector.’
Fletchers Group CEO Peter Haden said: “This is a crucial project for Fletchers, our clients, and our sector in general.
“We have already shown that AI can be a force for good. We now intend to broaden the scope of AI to give many thousands more injured people the opportunity to benefit from the justice system, even for lower value cases where justice has been harder to access following government reforms and budget cuts.”
“Our colleagues have seen the benefits derived from phase one of our partnership with the University, especially where tech is connected to our purpose of helping injured people who would otherwise have no one to turn to.
“I am excited by the potential for phase two to move the AI needle much further, and for this technology to be part of Fletchers DNA; in other words, just the way things are done around here.”