by: Nora Macaluso
In the latest sign that more and more legal services are being automated, Akerman has announced it will operate a data center that allows corporate clients to quickly look up data privacy and security regulations without having to consult a human lawyer.
Called the Akerman Data Law Center, it will be powered by Neota Logic, a software that has already helped a half-dozen law firms launch apps and other platforms that provide clients with quick automated answers on basic compliance questions.
Neota markets its software as a way to create a living, breathing survey of the regulations related to a specific area of law, Matt Gillis, the company’s president, told Big Law Business. The software uses decision trees to pose a series of questions to a user, leading ultimately to an answer to a specific question. Gillis compared the software to Intuit Inc.’s TurboTax software, which draws up individual tax forms based on responses to plain-English questions. The technology can be applied to anything that’s rules-based, he said.
“The future of the legal practice is going to be to do more and more strategic partnerships between law firms and non-legal service providers, and also more automation,” said co-chair Martin Tully, co-chair of Akerman’s data law practice and located in Chicago. “It’s both wise and necessary for innovative law firms to be ahead of the curve in embracing those realities,” he said.
The data center is a web-based platform that allows clients to obtain answers to questions like whether a company is obligated to notify regulators about a data loss, and, if so, which authorities to contact, Akerman said in a press release in November, announcing the new service.
Jeffrey Sharer, an Akerman partner who co-chairs the data law practice, said the client sees the same decision tree that the client would work through with him over the phone if they were to call. “Where we want them calling us is where the answer isn’t clear, where there are gray areas,” he said. “This is a way of helping them identify those.”
Akerman is far from the first law firm to invest in Neota Logic’s software: Foley & Lardner is using Neota software to help its international clients comply with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and Norton Rose Fulbright is working with the company on document and process automation in its London and South Africa offices. Another law firm uses the software to track Clery Act reporting requirements for campus security, and another firm is using it as a way of determining what types of work visas individual job candidates might need, said Gillis, who didn’t disclose the names of the two firms.
Littler Mendelson, which in August announced the hiring of a director of data analytics is also using Neota’s software to provide clients with guidance on questions about employment law. ComplianceHR, a joint venture between Littler and Neota announced in May, aims to provide in-house counsel and human resource professionals with the ability to make workplace-related decisions based on state and federal employment laws, such as determining whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor.
In its press release, Akerman said its data law center provides a way for corporate compliance officers to access U.S. state and federal data privacy and security regulations at a price that is 80 percent lower than traditional hourly rates. Thomson Reuters is providing the information on the state law, and is a competitor of Bloomberg LP, which owns Big Law Business.
To read the full Bloomberg BNA article on Neota Logic CLICK HERE.