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By Cristiano Dalla Bona 14 August 2019

CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang (CMS) has converted its in-house litigation technology unit from a business support function to a revenue generator, with it grossing slightly less than £5m in the 2018/19 financial year.

The unit, called internally CMS Evidence, is the firm’s in-house service aimed at supporting forensic analysis and review. Last May, legal technology support analyst Kevin Bannon was appointed head of the unit, with former leader Chris Baldwin staying on as a client-facing consultant. Over the year, the headcount grew to include two London-based e-disclosure consultants and a client data administrator, as well as a  further Scotland-based consultant for e-disclosure.

The unit has also created a so-called Super User cohort involving lawyers who volunteer to work on technology and delivery projects and to encourage colleagues in their practices to use existing tools in their daily job.

These include the latest version of machine learning and data visualisation technology Brainspace and e-discovery software Relativity One, recently adopted by the firm. The current cohort of volunteers  comprises 27 members including associates, senior associates and paralegals from the disputes practice.

The evolution of the unit comes as, last year, the firm plotted growth around tech development and headcount. Specifically, at the time former unit leader Chris Baldwin told The Lawyer that he expected the unit’s headcount to grow by nearly eight-fold in the next three years.

Among its first investments, CMS Evidence acquired machine learning and data visualisation technology Brainspace in February 2017 to accelerate data analysis in litigation. The platform allows lawyers to quickly and adequately review the increasing amount of data provided by clients for litigation and investigations.

CMS was said to have been investing significantly in technology ahead of its tie-up with Nabarro and Olswang, with the take-up of Brainspace forming one part of the initiative.

Last September, the firm formed a new team focused on designing innovative ways to fulfill clients’ changing needs. “CMS By Design”, led by executive partner Paul Stevens and a number of specialists, was born out of the innovation efforts that followed the merger and comprises four different divisions to rethink processes and help clients integrate new tools.