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Colin Feasby, managing partner at Osler

Colin Feasby, managing partner at Osler, says the law firm is always adapting. Wil Andruschak © 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.

Joel Schlesinger © 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.

Osler is one of Canada’s most storied law firms. But that doesn’t mean the company, which predates Canada’s Confederation, is stuck in the past.

“We’re a firm that obviously changes with the times — otherwise we wouldn’t be around today,” says Colin Feasby, managing partner at the firm, whose formal name is Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP.

“And we are always striving to stay ahead of changes in the profession, so we don’t just survive — but thrive.”

Central to its role as an innovator, Osler increasingly uses the latest technology to serve clients’ needs better.

Case in point is Osler Works, an initiative aimed at delivering cost-effective legal services using cutting-edge technology and  outside-the-box thinking on how those services can and should be provided.

One of those changes sees Osler providing services under a variety of alternative fee arrangements as opposed to the traditional billable hours. This move has helped the company become a leading provider of legal services to startup companies.

“Startups tend to have predictable needs, so we  offer a fixed-fee package, providing them with cost certainty.”

But large clients — including oil and gas firms in Calgary — are also seeking these innovative services.

Of course a driving force behind innovation is the quest to reduce costs and  ensure value for money.

Again, Osler is an industry leader. It was among the first to hire lawyers on a contract basis for tasks such as due diligence on large transactions.

It’s also a pioneer when it comes to using artificial intelligence (AI), which cuts the time and effort required to examine hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of documents during due  diligence or discovery.

“At one time, someone would have laid human eyes on every one of those, whereas, now, many of these documents are electronic and AI can go through it all quickly, producing the ones relevant,” Feasby says.

“Then we use contract lawyers who are certainly very qualified, but they don’t come with the overhead costs of keeping them on staff, to review these important documents.”

Technology does not just reduce time and cost. It also allows Osler’s lawyers to focus on what they do best: negotiating deals and arguing cases in court, Feasby says.

“Technology is not going away; rather, it will continue to be more integral to the profession and, more importantly, make what we do more efficient — and that’s good news for us and our clients.”

This feature was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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