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COVID-19: Why outdated technology is costing your firm

21 April 2020 | Jason Brennan

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, it has never been so important for law firms and organisations to future-proof their businesses as they navigate the ‘new normal’. Remote working, rapidly changing clients’ needs as well as an uncertain economic landscape all pose significant challenges for firms seeking to maintain business as usual. Lawyers must embrace the latest advances in technological innovation such as machine learning and AI in order to mitigate the impact of the global health crisis.

Legacy technology: a barrier to innovation

Over the past few years, technology vendors have gone some way to alleviate the pressures faced by legal advisors when confronted with reading hundreds of documents to a tight deadline. However, these legacy technologies tended to rely on complex rules creation, anticipating the queries that the lawyers might ask of the document set. The limitations of such technologies are therefore fairly obvious: they are heavily time and resource-intensive, with it not being uncommon to undertake months or even years of machine pre-‘training’ before lawyers can begin their review process.

But most crucially, the inflexibility and rigidity of these rules-based legacy systems means that that machine can only provide answers informed by this very ‘pre-training’ i.e. the system is only searching for things that the programmers or consultants thought it should search for. It is entirely reliant on the methods of programming, and the system has no ‘intelligence’ of its own – it cannot surface results that are unexpected or deviations from the norm – the ‘unknown unknowns’ that often prove so pivotal in reviews or cases. Further, these systems are often unable to cope with the unpredictable and ever-changing nature of the legal landscape since the programmers cannot predict changes in the law, economy – or indeed world events, such the pandemic that we currently face with coronavirus.

The advent of machine learning for the legal profession

Luminance’s next-generation machine learning technology is a gamechanger for businesses worldwide. The platform’s core intelligence, ‘LITE’ (Legal Inference Transformation Engine), is the only technology on the market which combines both supervised and unsupervised machine learning. The result is an incredibly powerful system capable of instantly reading and analysing legal document sets of any size, written across any language and from any jurisdiction. Employing machine learning algorithms mean this core intelligence is available to lawyers straight away – there is no downtime creating rules or pre-training the system. Further, Luminance’s cloud-based functionality ensures a quick and easy install from any location meaning that within a matter of hours, lawyers can be up and running, ready to start their review. With a growing number of businesses operating from home, under pressure to deliver speedy and effective results to their client, this is invaluable.

Indeed, by actually forming an understanding of the documents rather than relying on keyword searching, Luminance is able to be used for any kind document review and can flexibly adapts to changing market conditions or regulations without the need for re-programming. In fact, at Luminance, we have seen a growing number of our customers adopting our legal technology to assist with COVID-19-related reviews, such as the identification of force majeure provisions in commercial agreements, travel clauses in employment agreements and even clauses concerning insurance claims for businesses. Relying on rules-based technology platforms could therefore be fatal for a firm, with the inherent inflexibility of the technology unable to account for these new and evolving legal issues and concerns.

Luminance provides lawyers with instant value, immediately surfacing standards and deviations, categorising and highlighting any anomalies that may be important or problematic for a client. Allowing lawyers to steer the direction the review is of critical importance, and using Luminance, it is easy to set a clause or document as a ‘model’ or standard against which all other documents are compared. For instance, when searching for force majeure clauses, a lawyer may want to specify that they want a force majeure which explicitly mentions ‘epidemic’ to be their model – Luminance then highlights which documents do and do not comply with the new standard, ensuring no risk or obligation goes unnoticed. Indeed, Luminance learns from every interaction with the legal professional to generate deeper insights into documents, becoming increasingly bespoke with continuing use.

Right now, when reviews often need to be conducted with urgency, lawyers being assisted by Luminance can expect to see vast time-savings on day one of their review. In fact, last week, a Global Top 100 law firm used Luminance to search for force majeure clauses within a huge volume of contracts, achieving 50% time savings compared to manual review methods and completing the entire review in just two days.

Future-thinking technology

Staying abreast of the latest technological advancements is increasingly part of what it means to be a modern-day lawyer. This has never been clearer than in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. To stay ahead of the game, firms need to adopt a forward-thinking, proactive approach to legal technology. A dynamic and scalable solution like Luminance is business-critical, empowering firms to better tackle the change and uncertainty facing the industry.