Once upon a time, Richard West, who heads Kennedys’ liability division, was assisting an insurance client struggling with a tsunami of litigation. To help with the problems they were facing, West embarked on an internal effort that resulted in the creation of Klaim, the first product that, years later, would become part of the IQ offering. Klaim, which benefitted from the buy-in of senior partner Nick Thomas, was originally an online workflow system that encapsulated the knowledge of hundreds of lawyers in a bid to help clients deal with the early phases of the litigation process on their own, by using templates and notes that guided them through the litigation process.
The original Klaim was focused on a narrow part of the legal process – its beginning – and was specifically used in the automotive context. An internal team had coded the main steps followed by lawyers during the process, breaking down their know-how step by step to guide the user.
Klaim helped clients understand what to do, when and the core aspects of filing a defence. “It was based on the notion that the system had to hold the hand of the handlers and augment them with legal expertise,” recalls Mike Gilpin, commercial director of the new unit and previously IT head at the firm. The tool was developed and refined until 2013, with the development of broader processes across other stages of litigation.
Kennedys then decided to beef up its technical capabilities by setting up a research and development team led by Karim Derrick, who joined the firm in 2016, alongside a data insights function. Over the years, the firm challenged partners to come up with ideas to better address client problems.
To encourage lawyers to make that effort, in 2017 the team set up the Ideas Lab, a crowdsourcing platform to gather ideas from lawyers and staff. The best ones were put forward for a prototype after an assessment conducted by research and development team members.
An innovation group was set up under West’s watch to coordinate all the firm’s NewLaw efforts; collaborating with the corporate affairs and client reporting teams, it ended up involving almost 40 people – including solicitor Tom Gummer, who collaborated from Mexico by taking on a new innovation manager role. Around the same time, Kennedys purchased a prototype development team from a cognitive computing services business in Kerala, India, which would speed up the development of ideas gathered from the Lab. An example of the output of that initiative was @scene, a risk management app for legal departments.
In 2018, the firm doubled down on investments in data science, recruiting two data scientists. The first, Dr Xi Liu, has a PD in applied statistics and another in computer science with business. She joined as part of the Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Manchester, which focused on developing fraudprevention software. The second, Dr Harvey Maddocks, has a PhD in particle physics; he works specifically on data analysis and machine learning. At Kennedys, they worked on predicting the outcome of claims for clients by identifying trends from the work of previous years.
The resulting concepts, boiled down from a total of 100 ideas, were the basis of the Kennedys Toolkit, a suite of products developed as the lawyers worked with clients and learned about opportunities to apply legal tech, with an increasing focus on data capture and analytics. The toolkit was the basis for what, just two years later, would become IQ.