How to minimise risk in legal search

By Mike Kearney | May 3rd 2016

Near Enough is Not Good Enough

Within most legal practices, the process of search and discovery is a routine task, typically employed at the outset of a new matter when information about the people, companies and entities involved needs to be explored.

Today, this work is typically carried out manually. This is, however, inherently risky because it relies on people doing work which humans don’t typically excel at. It’s intrinsically difficult to read through multiple files and then document their understanding of the facts from that plethora of reports. Errors also arise when re-keying data during the iterative search processes – in some cases we have seen error rates as high as 20%. It’s a serious problem because accuracy of advice is critical in the legal sector – ‘near enough is not good enough’ in this space and carrying out search and review manually, with attendant time pressures, increases the risk of mistakes.

Making sense of information embedded in large volumes of complex data can be so time consuming to put the task beyond reach for busy professionals. Their usual practice is therefore to make-do: to make decisions on information collections at a scale that they can comfortably absorb. However, there is good evidence that professionals can take advantage of greater information to make better and quicker decisions by augmenting their investigations work with new technology dubbed visual analytics.

Manual search is also an inefficient way of using highly-skilled staff – whether they are qualified lawyers or paralegals. Many legal staff are tied up in manual search processes which they perform diligently and well but by their very nature are dull and error prone. They could potentially be delivering much greater value to the firm, performing billable work and achieve higher levels of job satisfaction if they were freed up from this routine work.

So where can law firms turn to minimise the risk of errors or oversights that adversely impact the decisions being made or advice that is being given?

One solution is introducing automation into the mundane processes. While legal work is complex – there are clerical tasks that support the professional work which can be broken down and automated to increase the thoroughness and accuracy of search and review. When a machine is picking the same company number directly from the Companies House report and entering it into the next search field or report – data entry errors can be eliminated from the process. This is just one example where automation can reduce risk and where we at encompass has found that encompass verify delivers value to firms.

about encompass

Founded in 2011 by entrepreneurs Roger Carson and Wayne Johnson, and operating from the UK, encompass is the creator of unique, innovative Know Your Customer (KYC) software for banking, finance, legal and accountancy that enable better, faster commercial decisions. The company is driven by the belief that the best decisions are made when people understand the full picture.

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Author: Mike Kearney

As a product marketing professional, Mike specialises in technologies that deliver business innovation by managing, analysing and presenting information. Mike’s career spans working in Australia, Europe and USA with experience in financial services, telecommunications, energy, pharmaceuticals, electronics and public sector, and with vendors including Netezza, Oracle, Vignette, BMC Software, and IBM.

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