COVID-19 and the drive towards LegalTech: The Lawyers of Tomorrow

24 April 2020 | Luminance

With more than a quarter of the world on some form of lockdown, many law firms and businesses have had to fundamentally rethink how they will continue to deliver effective legal counsel to their clients or organisations. Luminance’s Chairman, Robert Webb QC, recently explained that “The time for artificial intelligence in the law is now here, accelerated by the current virus. COVID-19 will pass but the growth of artificial intelligence will be a part of its permanent legacy.” Indeed, whatever lawyers’ previous attitude to legal technology may have been, “they will now have to buy into the revolution”, with collaborative reviews undertaken from home offices the new normal. Indeed, it is only by embracing legal technology that lawyers will be able to succeed in this changed environment and be well-positioned for success over the coming decade.

The rise of tech-savvy lawyers

The World Economic Forum (WEF) reports that the skills needed to thrive in what they term ‘the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ have shifted, with complex problem solving, critical thinking and emotional intelligence found to be increasingly important. As a result, trudging through hundreds or thousands of near-identical contracts is no longer desirable, nor feasible, for the modern-day lawyer. Not only are firms in jeopardy of recruiting and retaining only the most resilient people who are capable of completing repetitive and laborious work, but they also risk obstructing lawyers’ creative thinking and incisive analysis, which in turn poses a threat to their business. Indeed, this has become all the more important in light of the coronavirus crisis, with lawyers forced to undertake vast document reviews with tight deadlines in order to assess clients’ changing business and contractual needs.

Arriving on the market four years ago, Luminance has seen over 220 law firms and organisations, both large and small, decide that a change in the way they approach document review is crucial. Powered by a unique blend of supervised and unsupervised machine learning with pattern-recognition techniques, Luminance instantly reads and analyses the data set at hand, providing lawyers with real-time information on key clauses, anomalies and risks, without the need for prior machine training or configuration. Using Luminance, lawyers are able to slice through repetitive, admin-heavy tasks, freeing up their time to focus on legal analysis, critical thinking and problem-solving; invaluable skills for tomorrow’s lawyer.

Beyond the ‘brick and mortar’ office

Whilst COVID-19 drives law firms, courts and businesses to close, the needs of those requiring legal advice remains unchanged, despite the vast logical challenges posed to lawyers in providing it. With the assistance of Luminance, firms can greatly ease this transition. Primarily deployed on the cloud, Luminance allows for a quick and easy upload of documents, from any location. With robust collaborative capabilities such as automatic task allocation and document distribution tools to ensure no duplication of work, and task tracking and progression features, lawyers can continue to work seamlessly across teams, offices and countries.

Indeed, the trend towards flexible or ‘agile’ working practices is expected to endure post-quarantine. With the right tech in place, agile working results in well-documented benefits for lawyers, including attracting new recruits, increasing employee motivation and enhancing client service. As Slaughter & May’s Knowledge and Innovation Manager, Jan Smit, noted in a talk with us recently: “(At Slaughter and May) we need to have the right legal tech resources in place to show prospective trainees we are an innovative firm that cares about the way they work.” Using technology to drive forward initiatives like agile working are key to this strategy.

Exceeding clients’ expectations

Mark Rigotti, CEO of Herbert Smith Freehalls, recently commented at Luminance’s webinar, ‘The Future of Work in the Legal Sector’: “Clients are demanding more for less”. This means that lawyers have to deliver their increasingly complex services not only cheaper, but faster and with better results.

By rapidly analysing documents, Luminance’s powerful machine learning reduces the need for costly outsourcing or unnecessary resources, allowing firms to deliver high-quality legal services without compromising efficiency or insight. As a result, advisors are now able to review 100% of the document set, achieving up to 85% time-savings on day one of their review.

Clients’ expectations have also altered, with an increasing need for a ‘proactive’ approach to legal advice. By using unsupervised machine learning, lawyers do not have ‘pre-programme’ want they want to find in the data. Instead, Luminance instantly surfaces hidden risks in the form of ‘unknown unknowns’ – clauses or documents that clients or organisations were not anticipating but nonetheless are present within the data. Luminance flags such risks at the beginning of the review, allowing legal teams to shape the direction of negotiations from the start.

The future is tech

The coronavirus pandemic is a catalyst for profound change in the legal industry, propelling lawyers to find new and innovative solutions to continue to deliver high-quality, effective legal services. Luminance’s machine learning technology enables lawyers not only to meet challenges and demands stemming from the pandemic, but also allows them to be at the forefront of innovation as ‘tomorrow’s lawyer’.