Latest initiative in the firm’s Continuous Innovation Programme
Hodge Jones & Allen (HJA) has teamed up with a world-leading academic to pioneer a predictive model of case outcomes that will enable the firm to better assess the viability of its personal injury caseload.
In light of how critical the initial assessment of a case is to the success of personal injury practices post-Jackson, the firm wanted the ability to make even more informed decisions on the 1,200-plus PI cases it handles each year.
HJA provided Professor Andrew Chesher, Professor of Economics and Economic Measurement at University College London, with information about the outcomes of 600 cases concluded over a 12-month period. He used a combination of statistical techniques to examine the factors contributing to which cases were won or lost, the damages that were received by claimants in successful cases, and the costs received by HJA.
Factors examined included the demographics of the claimant, the nature and cause of the injury, the type of defendant, the quality of the defendant’s solicitors, the level of solicitor handling the case, the number and type of witnesses, the corroborating evidence available, the reporting of cases to authorities and hospitals, and the time between injury and instruction.
The results of the analysis were used to produce robust models able to predict the likelihood of cases being won or lost. These models are now being turned into simple Excel-based programmes that the HJA enquiry team will use to help make initial assessments of the likelihood of a positive outcome for the client and the practice for each case.
Professor Chesher says: “There are complex interactions between many of the variables we analysed and, as with many markets where human judgement is involved, there is always an element of unpredictability. However, particularly with the model predicting the likelihood of a case being won or lost, we were able to produce robust models that will improve over time as further data is collected.”
The win-loss modelling showed the importance of the age and working status of the claimant in predicting outcomes, as well as some subtle gender bias. Also shown was the importance of the length of time between injury and instruction and the complex interaction between the circumstances of the accident, type of accident and type of defendant.
The damages model showed how the upper level of the Judicial College Guidelines on damages for different types of injury is almost irrelevant in most cases. It also highlighted that although witnesses and reliable evidence were not particularly instrumental in predicting a win or loss, they were important in achieving higher damages.
Patrick Allen, Senior Partner of HJA, says: “Our enquiry handling team are exceptional at assessing the quality of personal injury enquiries and have a fantastic track record. These models will not replace their experience and judgement, but will provide an additional aid to them in a world where it is no longer good enough to take a case on with a 50% chance of success and where fees are restricted to a few hundred pounds.
“Our plan is to continue to refine these models and to test their predictions against real-world outcomes. We have identified key pieces of additional information that we need to collect when an enquiry comes in, and are confident these models provide us with a continuing professional and commercial advantage.”
Matt Cuell, HJA’s personal injury team manager who worked with Professor Chesher in the development of the models, says: “It was fascinating to see how factors we thought might be important could be analysed and quantified in terms of their significance. Similarly, the modelling also challenged some of our prejudices about the cases we should be taking on.”
The firm is currently looking at other areas of the business undertaking high-volume work that might benefit from predictive modelling of this kind.
This work is one of the major initiatives coming out of HJA’s Continuous Innovation Programme, which is delivering significant improvements both in the service the firm is able to provide to clients and to its commercial performance. As part of this, the firm is undertaking research, through Ipsos MORI, to understand how other law firms are responding to the changes the sector is facing and what they desire for the future. These results are to be shared with the whole legal community in November, through “The HJA Innovation in Law Report”, aiming to stimulate a debate on how the whole legal system cannot just survive, but thrive.
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Notes to editors:
Hodge Jones & Allen was founded in 1977 in Camden and has over 200 staff based in Euston NW1. The firm practices personal injury, clinical negligence, civil liberties, family law, wills and probate, housing, dispute resolution, criminal defence and serious fraud.