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Alliance Manchester Business School launches trailblazing partnership with North West law firm

Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS) has announced a trailblazing management Knowledge Transfer Partnership (mKTP) with North West law firm Jackson Lees Group (JLG) which will look at how advanced data science techniques can be combined with behavioural psychology profiling to tackle complex work processes.

Although many law firms are looking at how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to develop leaner processes and quicker turnaround times in routine legal transactions, it is rare to combine this with such profiling.

Yet studies have shown that consumer values and opinions have a big impact on attitudes and behaviour, and the mKTP will focus on how psychographic characteristics can affect client and JLG adviser interactions within the specific legal process context.

The key objectives of the JLG mKTP are to:

  • Address difficulties of productivity and innovation within a traditional professional services (legal) context.
  • Create a different value proposition that will allow JLG to better engage with clients and staff.
  • Support diversification and introduce a new B2B service offering.

Positive attitude

Brian Cullen, CEO of The MAPD Group which owns JLG, said the group had already been looking at personality profiling among its staff for some time in order to understand how more positive staff attitudes and better internal collaboration can translate into more positive customer experiences.

As he explained: “This particular project will look at how we can now translate this work into creating a more positive culture and experience with our customers. Legal case management systems have always tended to be designed by lawyers for lawyers, so by their nature they are very technical and process driven which can be unhelpful for customers. We want to look at how we can completely reinvent the system in order to create a better customer experience.”

Law initiative

JLG was already a member of The University of Manchester’s Law and Technology Initiative which enhances understanding of emerging technology trends that are already transforming virtually all aspects of the legal sector. On the back of this relationship it was put in touch with AMBS when it began thinking about combining data science with behavioural profiling.

As Cullen adds: “The academic route always seemed the most logical route for us with this project as it can be very difficult to find consultants who specialise in both psychology and AI. Collaborating with a university, and the whole notion of learning from each other, really appealed to us too. In terms of its organisational psychology offer, we were not only impressed by the breadth of AMBS research but also by its ability to translate this into a business environment.”


Joanna Kingston-Davies, COO of The MAPD Group, said JLG’s customer base was mainly consumers who used legal services infrequently but for specific reasons, such as for buying a property or getting a divorce. As such she said it was crucial that they were made to feel as welcome as possible from the moment they walked through the door.

“Customers who come to us can often be under a high level of stress and see the legal process as something of a necessary evil, yet current systems are built for the legal framework not the end client. This means the traditional stereotype of a stuffy legal office with lots of small rooms really doesn’t cut it. We need consumers to know that we are on their side from the moment they walk through the door, and this is about completely changing the mind-set of a customer in terms of their interaction with a law firm.”

She added that customers can also have very different reasons for getting in touch in the first place. “If you take conveyancing there is a very big difference between an excited first time buyer and someone who has recently got divorced and has been forced to move house as a result. One of the aims of this study is therefore to look at how we can personalise our service as much as possible.”

Track record

AMBS academics involved in the project include Professor of Organisational Psychology Karen Niven, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Psychology David Hughes, and Senior Lecturer in Information and Decision Systems Nadia Papamichail.

Dr Nadia Papamichail, who is also an academic director of the Law and Technology Initiative, said: “AMBS has a track record for delivering successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership projects in collaboration with legal services firms. This work aims to develop emotion-aware AI tools that embed cognitive capabilities into people, processes and technologies, and will develop an end-to-end AI-driven system for delivering personalised customer experiences. An AI Application Developer will work alongside an Organisational Psychology Associate to design and build a suite of AI-driven tools such as chatbots and cognitively enhanced workflows.”

Dr David Hughes added: “When you hear the words ‘law, technology, and AI’, rarely do you expect the next word to be, psychology! But that is what makes this project so exciting. Scholars within AMBS have a strong track record of bringing together seemingly disparate fields in order to generate cutting-edge policy and practice. Here, too, we have assembled an expert team of psychologists and data scientists to develop a genuinely creative and innovative programme that will use psychological assessment to improve lawyer-client relations within a broader AI client management system. In essence, this mKTP is the very embodiment of our motto: Original Thinking Applied.” 

Unlike a more general Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) where business and academia join forces to develop a specific product or service, an mKTP is built around identifying strategic management-based initiatives to increase business effectiveness and improve management practices.

JLG have benefited from a 50% grant contribution towards the eligible project costs from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).  For further information and advice on accessing KTP or mKTP funding please contact Joanne Summers.