'If it makes dollars, it makes sense'

Zacharias Vickers LLP targets tech that improves client connections, efficiencies of work

'If it makes dollars, it makes sense'

The main objective of a law firm is to provide the greatest value possible to its clients, and if you ask Brian Vickers, partner at Zacharias Vickers LLP, an easy way to accomplish that is through technology.

“Our firm’s approach is akin to the old adage ‘if it makes dollars, it makes sense,’” Vickers says. “If technology can improve client connections and efficiencies of work, it is something we certainly are interested in exploring and incorporating into our day-to-day use.” 

So when Vickers was urged to try Alexi Inc., which uses Artificial Intelligence to provide high quality answers in memo format to any legal question, he didn’t hesitate to check it out. Vickers had just finished a complicated application where he’d contested documents counsel had listed as “litigation privilege.” Case law in Ontario was not favorable and it had started to be picked up in his jurisdiction, British Columbia, and Vickers recalls he spent far more time than he cares to admit researching the matter. Ultimately, he came to a conclusion that was not obvious on the case law and the judge sided with him, but the decision was never reported so Vickers knew Alexi wouldn’t have access to it. He submitted his query, and much to his surprise Alexi identified the same case law as Vickers, came to the same general analysis – and did so in far less time than it had taken him to pour over the relevant cases.

“Needless to say, we signed up right away,” Vickers says.

Since becoming Alexi users two years ago Zacharias Vickers uses the platform regularly, most commonly to check if there have been any changes in applicable law prior to entering the courtroom or to locate a case they know exists but don’t have at their fingertips. For example, the firm was recently at the Court of Appeal and used Alexi to locate several leading cases in other jurisdictions to illustrate how the procedure differed in BC. Ultimately, Vickers likes how quick, reliable and affordable Alexi is and in the rare event the program doesn’t give them exactly what they’re looking for, the team at Alexi are quick to respond and always accommodating. 

Research software like Alexi, along with things like synthesizing documents, word recognition and organization, reduces billable hours lawyers spend on files by replacing human horsepower with technological horsepower. Streamlining wherever possible ultimately results in lower overhead for firms, and when less money is required to keep the lights on lawyers are free to do more of the work that only a lawyer can do – thereby reducing the overall cost to the client for the same or, often, better services. 

“Technology can now tell us what are the leading cases in various areas of law, alert us if a new case comes out that may alter prior legal positions and can also tell us how lawyers or professional witnesses have been treated historically,” Vickers says. “All of this information can then be used to assist counsel in preparing litigation strategies.” 

As a tech-forward firm always looking for opportunities to improve, Zacharias Vickers welcomes any tool that leads to greater efficiency, accessibility and cost savings. And while there are some things technology may never be able to supplement ­– “I don’t see a robot standing in court anytime soon and making arguments, and I also don’t see AI being able to identify the best litigation strategy for a client after assessing legal positions, practical concerns, timing, and the tendencies of opposing counsel or other parties to a litigation,” he notes – where technology is really advanced, and continuing to advance, “is in providing those pieces of the puzzle that counsel need to develop litigation strategies much quicker than before.”

As the digital transformation continues, Vickers says the approach at Zacharias Vickers is simple, effective and positions them well to leverage the technological tools of the future.

“The goal is to offer high quality service at reasonable rates,” he says. “We will continue to find – and embrace ­– creative ways to reduce costs without reducing the quality of service.”

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