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Machine learning can stop unfair legal billing

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Legal tech startup Legal Lens has created a tool that may ‎protect companies, state entities, and individuals from inflated legal fees. The startup is able to reduce legal fees by as much as 60%, but it says that around 10% is the average.

The founders, Catherine-Jane Paulse and Yusha Davidson, both attorneys, recognised legal invoices often reflected billing practices and errors that resulted in unfair, high legal fees.

“The recent discussion paper by the South African Law Reform Commission regarding its investigation into legal fees also confirms that improper and unethical billing is a reality in South Africa,” says Paulse.

Davidson says: “We realised that it’s awkward and difficult reviewing legal invoices, as clients fear disrupting the close relationship they have with their lawyers and may not have the knowledge needed to dispute a legal invoice. It’s time consuming. So, we developed a tech solution to review legal invoices and reduce legal fees.”

To use the service, users need to send the legal invoices to Legal Lens, along with any correspondence regarding fee arrangements and the letter of engagement with the lawyer.

Using experienced attorneys, optical character recognition and machine learning, Legal Lens digitally reviews the legal invoices to identify areas for potential savings. The businsss then engages with the customer’s lawyer regarding the fees in dispute.

The start-up says egagements are professionally handled to ensure that the relationship between the customer and the lawyer is maintained. After the legal invoice has been renegotiated and revised, it obtains a new invoice from the legal firm that reflects the reduced amount to be paid.

Clients are charged 17.5% (including VAT) of the amount saved. If there are no savings, there is no charge.

Legal Lens has entered into discussions with the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA), for the LSSA to recommend the offering. The LSSA has stated that this innovative solution has the potential to protect the interests of the public.

For more information on the offering, visit www.legallens.co.za

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