Law firm takes digital approach to democratising the law
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 20 Jul 2017
People worldwide are now used to asking intelligent personal assistants like Siri what the weather is like in a certain holiday destination, or to find a number in their contacts book without having to lift a finger.
But what if this type of artificial intelligence could be used to help businesses find the answers to employment law or health and safety requirements?
It might sound futuristic, but thanks to Hull law firm rradar, this is now a reality.
The firm has launched what it believes is the world’s first customer-facing automated legal support assistant.
“rradargrace” uses cutting-edge cognitive computing combined with bespoke coding and content that has been designed in-house by the company’s own technology, design and legal teams, in close partnership with world-leading technology company IBM Watson.
Rradar founder Gary Gallen said: “Artificial intelligence is already a major part of the business landscape and we’ve put ourselves ahead of the curve by launching a new virtual assistant, known as rradargrace.
“rradargrace is an advice portal for business.
“I had a five-bar gate for the number of different clients at different companies coming to us for routine advice on the same problems.
“Our team was giving each of them the same advice. I realised we could offer a better service by letting rradargrace do that for them, freeing up our team so they can do the kind of things that add better value for our clients.
“But it is also about democratising the law. Instead of only helping clients when things go wrong, why can we not offer them the kind of support so that things don’t go wrong in the first place?”
The company is in the process of expanding the resources available through rradargrace, as well as providing resources such as video and online training courses through another innovation, rradarstation.
It is this kind of innovation that the Mail is seeking to celebrate at The Digital Awards 2017.
Now in their third year, the awards will take place at the stunning Stage@TheDock on Thursday, September 7.
Providing clients with downloadable resources that cut out the need to speak directly to a lawyer might sound like a way to cut jobs, but rradar is proving the opposite is true.
The company now employs more than 80 people – a figure Mr Gallen anticipates will grow to 120 by the end of the year.
He said: “Five years ago it was just me in a conservatory at home, now we have 83 people and are growing.
“We are winning more contracts and word of mouth is driving interest in what we are doing here in Hull.”
Though podcasts and artificial intelligence is helping to attract interest from companies worldwide, rradar continues to offer the kind of services one might expect from a “traditional” law firm, including qualified solicitors and specialist practitioners offering face to face advice and investigation, prosecutions and defence coverage.
This approach has seen rradar’s workload grow significantly, from handling 56 legal enquiries a month in 2014 to a figure now reaching 600 each month.
The company was last year named the 19th fastest growing tech company in the North of England after securing a spot in the Northern Tech 100 league table.
Rradar this month relocated to state-of-the-art new offices at The Beacon in Hull, with 3D mountains on the walls, a graffiti wall, themed working areas and a yet-to-be-unveiled “surprise” on the ground floor of the building.
Mr Gallen said: “Our fantastic new building represents a big statement and a big investment.
“There is a fear that Hull loses its talents to the likes of Leeds, Manchester and London, but we have recruited people from across the country who have relocated to Hull because they are so excited by what we are doing.
“We have a group of incredible partners and are doing some amazing work.”
Entries for the Digital Awards are now open, with 11 categories up for grabs covering everything from best mobile app to best digital marketing communication.
Hosts KCOM and the Hull Daily Mail are now inviting businesses, organisations and individuals from all sectors to enter, presenting a comprehensive showcase of the innovative spirit and indomitable pride that exist in our region.
Another Hull company that is making waves in the digital world is Visr VR.
Based at the University of Hull Enterprise Centre, the company specialises in pushing the boundaries of virtual reality and works with blue chip companies and global brands worldwide.
The company was founded by Hull computer science graduate Louis Deane and Lindsay West, joint managing director of Hull manufacturer Garthwest Ltd.
As well as creating ground-breaking video games and working with clients to create bespoke virtual reality experiences, the company has also provided VR headsets for blockbusters including Star Wars: The Force Awakens and provided the first 360 filming for Glastonbury.
It is now the UK’s largest independent supplier of durable, low-cost cardboard virtual reality headsets, and remains at the cutting edge of the VR industry.
Mr West said: “We have worked very hard in Hull for many years to really make a difference.”
Visit thedigitalawards.net for details on how to enter and be part of this year's awards.