UnitedLex has acquired a 20-person Paul Hastings data science team led by lawyer Tom Barnett as part of a new partnership between the law firm and the technology and legal services provider.
The Paul Hastings’ data science, analysis, and investigations team will move to UnitedLex, where it will continue to develop legal services technology that will be used by Paul Hastings lawyers.
Barnett, a special counsel at Paul Hastings who founded the team six years ago, will become senior vice president and divisional general counsel at UnitedLex.
As part of the deal, UnitedLex will also acquire the IP assets, including code and artificial intelligence programming, that have been developed by the data science team.
“Paul Hastings will now be using UnitedLex tools and staff to help us in the service of our clients,” said Greg Nitzkowski, managing partner at Paul Hastings.
Paul Hastings will also act as an incubator for new data science tools.
The deal is the most recent example of collaborations between alternative legal service providers and law firms. This is happening as firms work to streamline and automate certain legal services, often through the use of AI, in response to cost-savings demands from clients.
Nitzkowski said Paul Hastings has been working on an “exit strategy” for the data science team since it was founded. The goal was to develop proprietary data analytics tools for use by the firm’s lawyers.
“What we were focused on was how do we develop a generation of partners and associates who really understand how to use data and other tools to represent clients,” Nitzkowski said. “Our goals had to do with us becoming better lawyers, not with us becoming a data science firm.”
Dave Deppe, president of UnitedLex, said he was interested in the firm’s data science tools because they were developed by legal experts, not by software experts.
“It would have been very very difficult for UnitedLex to have developed what Paul Hastings developed without Paul Hastings,” said Deppe. “Now we can take this and kind of put it on steroids.”
Nitzkowski said that it’s “difficult for a law firm to create long-term competitive advantage from a proprietary technology-driven product.”
The agreement with Paul Hastings is the latest of several new partnerships between UnitedLex and Big Law firms, but it is the first in which UnitedLex has acquired an asset from a law firm, Deppe said.
Earlier this month, the legal services provider launched a joint venture with Polsinelli to provide IP services to clients. That followed the creation of a joint litigation support center between UnitedLex and Polsinelli in January. In 2018, UnitedLex launched a high profile joint venture with now-defunct LeClairRyan.
—With Sam Skolnik