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Law firm teams up with Canadian legal tech company on AI-powered case prediction tool

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Labor and employment law firm Fisher Phillips has partnered with Blue J Legal Inc. to bring the Toronto legal tech company’s AI-powered technology, which predicts court outcomes in the employment law arena, to the United States.

The partnership, which was announced last month, will initially give Fisher Phillips exclusive access to the U.S. employment tool that Blue J Legal develops in tandem with the law firm.

Blue J Legal’s Canadian employment law product, which was released in late 2017, reviews the facts of a case and relevant precedents in the selected jurisdiction to predict litigation results with 90% accuracy, according to the company.

The tool, known as Blue J L&E, can also predict the length of time that a court would determine is reasonable notice to provide an employee who is being dismissed and calculate the amount that an employee would likely be owed upon termination.

Evan Shenkman, senior director of knowledge management at Fisher Phillips, which has more than 30 offices across the country and about 400 lawyers, says the firm will ultimately use Blue J Legal’s predictive information for U.S. matters to inform litigation strategy and assist with guidance provided to clients.

Evan Shenkman headshot Evan Shenkman, senior director of knowledge management at Fisher Phillips.

“It is a great way to help our attorneys make more efficient and more accurate predictions when they are giving counseling advice,” Shenkman says. “If we are providing guidance to a client on how to craft a restrictive covenant or a noncompete, we could plug the terms into this tool and then see whether or not it is likely to be enforceable.”

Benjamin Alarie, CEO and co-founder at Blue J Legal, a machine learning and artificial intelligence software company based in Toronto, says the company decided to team up with Fisher Phillips because the firm backs its vision of bringing greater clarity to the law through the use of cutting-edge technology.

“What I find really exciting is the ability for us to work closely with members of the Fisher Phillips team who have deep expertise in the labor and employment issues that we are going to be looking at and building product for,” Alarie says.

This expertise should ensure “that the way we are solving those labor and employment issues nicely dovetails with how attorneys who are practicing in the area approach those kinds of problems,” Alarie adds.

The law firm and the legal tech company will start by setting up a module that will allow lawyers to seek predictive information about Americans with Disabilities Act litigation in California, Shenkman says.

While Fisher Phillips assists Blue J Legal in building out its technology for use in a wide variety of employment matters across the United States, it will have exclusive access to the tool for two years before it is made more broadly available, according to Shenkman. It is too early to tell what the pricing for the U.S. product will be, Alarie says.

Blue J Legal’s Canadian employment law product includes a module focused on the duty to accommodate disabilities, as well as a variety of other modules, such as sexual harassment, worker classification and constructive dismissal.

Benjamin Alarie headshot Benjamin Alarie, CEO and co-founder at Blue J Legal.

A lawyer would start using the Blue J L&E tool by answering a series of questions about the facts of their case. The product then reviews relevant case law and produces a prediction of the likely outcome that includes its level of confidence in the prediction indicated by a percentage figure.

Additionally, the tool provides a legal explanation of the prediction that it reached, and attorneys can review which factors played the biggest role in the determination. Lawyers can then revise some of their answers to see how that affects the prediction and closely analyze the cases used to produce the prediction.

Shenkman says he was quite familiar with Blue J Legal because when he previously worked at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, that firm subscribed to the tech company’s employment product for its Canadian lawyers.

“That gave me sort of firsthand insight into the fact it really does work and adds a lot of value,” he says. “This is really one of those first-in-class types of tools.”

Alarie says most of the large law firms in Canada subscribe, and many of the large Canadian corporations either subscribe or are exploring subscribing to Blue J L&E.

“The take up has actually been really strong, which is why we are excited about building the U.S. equivalent,” he says.

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