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Successful lawyers are good at the basics

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By The Careers Team on

Apply the law and understand your client’s business and you will do well whatever changes technology brings, says RPC’s Dan Guilfoyle ahead of InsurTech, the law and new opportunities for future lawyers this evening

RPC’s Dan Guilfoyle

Over recent years Dan Guilfoyle, a senior associate in RPC’s insurance litigation team, has noticed a significant uptick in requests for detailed management information insurance company clients.

“Their business is assessing risk, and as part of that they are turning to us for more information,” he says. “Today’s insurers expect this to be delivered on a monthly basis, providing an accurate snapshot at any time of their claims portfolio. It is now a core part of our client service.”

This use of big data to develop models that better manage the present and predict the future goes to the heart of insurtech, an area that combines insurance, law and computer science.

With insurance having a reputation as quite a traditional industry that may in the past not have embraced technology as wholeheartedly as others, some commentators have expressed views about the “disruptive” impact of insurtech on the sector.

But Guilfoyle doesn’t expect a revolution. Rather, he forecasts that insurance will be “gradually enhanced” by technology in a way that makes it “more streamlined and most importantly more accurate at calculating risk”. He adds that this “will benefit everyone — the industry, its service providers and the people and organisations taking out insurance”.

Specialising in construction and technology disputes and cyber breach response, Guilfoyle gets to see litigation from plenty of different perspectives. His experience advising technology companies has been particularly useful as RPC embarks on its own entrepreneurial and innovative ventures. It’s no surprise, then, that Guilfoyle has played a key role in the development of ReSecure, RPC’s cyber security breach response service. The initiative provides a one-stop shop for companies which suffer a security breach, and sees the firm’s lawyers act alongside tech experts, forensics teams, PR consultants and credit monitoring specialists to quickly limit the damage.

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Guilfoyle also takes a keen interest in lawtech. “All businesses, small and large, are ever reliant on electronic communication. That, along with the ease and frequency with which people send emails, means that litigation cases routinely involve a significant number of documents that would add up to countless lever arch files. This is where eplatforms are playing an increasingly important role; the ability to interrogate the documents at the click of a button, be it through key word searches or date ranges makes the review process much more efficient and cost effective,” he says.

As with insurtech, Guilfoyle doesn’t expect instant upheaval. He continues:

“Ultimately the tools we are using are not a substitute for the legal analysis. They enable lawyers to get to the stage of being able to carry out that analysis much more quickly by identifying and isolating key evidence. So I don’t see trainee numbers being affected.”

A Cardiff University history and politics graduate, Guilfoyle was drawn to the law because he was “attracted to the process of marshalling a range of circumstances and facts in order to construct a particular position or argument”. Having tried a range of different practice areas during his training contract, he found that litigation offered a pretty pure embodiment of that analysis and argument combination. Plus it proves to be very satisfying. “When you are able to extricate a client from a difficult position, reach a favourable outcome or succeed at trial — then all the hard work is worth it,” he says. Having joined RPC’s Bristol office from another large firm in 2012, he hasn’t looked back, managing the pressure of the day job by taking time out to follow club and international rugby.

Guilfoyle’s advice to students? “The most important thing is to master the fundamentals of being a good lawyer, and from there concentrating on gaining a thorough understanding of your clients’ business and their needs.”

Dan Guilfoyle will be speaking at InsurTech, the law and new opportunities for future lawyers at RPC this evening, alongside colleagues Simon Laird and George Barratt.

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