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IBM partners with national firm McMillan to apply cloud analytics to legal services

IBM’s predictive analytics platform, SPSS, running on IBM Cloud, will be used by national law firm McMillan LLP to offer insights into how to standardize metrics for a variety of legal services, including pricing certainty, workflow optimization and staffing, with the aim of improving overall cost-effectiveness, and aggregating and analyzing McMillan’s internal data to improve their decision making process.
IBM (NYSE:IBM) acquired SPSS Inc. in 2009, which originally was an acronym for Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, a company that brought a degree of statistical rigor to sociology in the 1970s and then began offering its services to marketers and researchers working in various other disciplines through the decades.
McMillan will also be using IBM’s Bluemix platform to build app services that will be exclusively to McMillan clients, with the aim of enhancing client-lawyer interactions.
“We’ve seen how cloud and big data can transform business,” said Teresa Dufort, CEO at McMillan. “That’s why we’ve chosen to be at the forefront of the legal industry using advanced analytics to service our clients. By partnering with IBM, we are looking to provide clients with greater transparency on the timing and cost of transactions. At the same time, we will enhance our ability to improve staffing and manage change. And we will pass the benefits on to our clients.”
Based in Canada, McMillan LLP is a business law firm with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Hong Kong, serving a client base spread throughout Canada and the U.S. as well as internationally.
Much like Big Data and analytics has impacted a lot of industries that previously functioned on employees eyeballing a gas meter and then writing a figure on a clipboard, the legal profession has also mostly priced its legal projects based on the individual experience of legal practitioners.
Using analytics to take into account the variables around particular cases, McMillan hopes to optimize the accuracy of its price estimates, while also offering cost certainty and the delivery of better alternative fee arrangements to clients.
IBM’s partnership with McMillan also aims to help the firm discover new legal patterns and trends, improving the firm’s ability to forecast metrics for legal services such as purchasing or selling a business and financing transactions, as well as to help lawyers build more accurate pricing models.
“Fueled by cloud, analytics can be a catalyst for innovation to help organizations uncover data insights to solve business problems and yield real-time results,” says Tim White, Vice President, Software, and IBM Canada. “Data is the world’s new natural resource. Together with IBM’s advanced analytics system, SPSS as a service, and cloud, McMillan can mine and manage vast amounts of client data, perform and share analyses, and discover new opportunities to allow the company to transform its operations and create competitive legal services for Canadians.”
To that end, McMillan has added a data scientist to its staff, who will work in partnership with Executive Committee member responsible for overseeing the initiative, Tim Murphy, who explains, “Using our in-house data scientist, McMillan is looking to make advanced analytics a core competency for the firm and subsequently create significant new benefits for our clients.”
Running on IBM’s Cloud infrastructure, McMillan hopes its new analytics platform will offer clients a higher degree of customization, transparency, predictability and automation.

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