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In conversation with Jones Day: how is the way lawyers work changing?

20 May 2020 | Luminance

Although proud of its traditions, the legal sector has seen considerable change in recent years with even greater transformations still to come. To meet changing client demands, build teams of talented lawyers with the right skills for today’s legal market, and review ever growing quantities of information, many law firms and in-house legal teams have adopted new approaches and utilised the power of new technologies. The outbreak of COVID-19 has accelerated many of these trends as lawyers adjust to practices such as remote working far faster than they envisaged. At a recent Luminance Webinar, Shannon Finch, Partner at Jones Day, spoke to Luminance about how the legal sector is being radically transformed by the pandemic and how lawyers can successfully evolve to meet the new challenges they face.

Ensuring collaboration whilst working remotely

In Shannon’s view, the behaviours developed during the current crisis are unlikely to be temporary: “as we’re forced to explore new ways of working during this period, we will discover more efficient, simpler ways of doing things”. While many lawyers will be glad to return to the office, remote working seems likely to continue its long-term growth. Indeed, a recent survey by Gartner found that 74% of CFOs expected that at least some of their employees who’d been forced to work from home because of the pandemic would continue to do so once it was over. To succeed in this new landscape lawyers will need the tools that enable effective remote working.

In Shannon’s opinion, "the initial shift to home working was actually really smooth, the technology is there and we’re now all familiar with five different meeting platforms, but the human factors are much harder; how do we keep teams feeling connected and supported?". Even lawyers who had previously been cautious about integrating technology into their work have now accepted its importance.

Luminance can provide lawyers with robust project management tools that allow lawyers to effectively collaborate across tasks, whether they are in the office or working remotely. Automatic workflow distribution and document allocation ensures that there is no duplication of work, whilst progress reports and findings are immediately available within the Luminance dashboard to allow a thorough review to be completed despite tight deadlines. For Shannon Luminance has proved a key tool in the last two months as it “allows us to easily keep the team on one page, we can put all of the comments, all of the action items for the teams progress in one place and quickly direct each other to a particular page or clause."

AI – now an “essential tool”

Beyond the impact of COVID-19, the way lawyers work is evolving in order to meet the changing needs of their clients. As their clients require lawyers to quickly review ever-increasing numbers of documents, then lawyers are turning to technologies such as Luminance since, as Shannon pointed out, “Lawyers might be resistant to change but they’re also very conscious of client demands”. Indeed, Dr Mike Lynch, former CEO of Autonomy, commented at a recent Luminance Insights webinar that with data volumes ballooning, it is practically a necessity for lawyers to adopt technology. However, this technology need not be at odds with the lawyer’s workflow – in fact, it can be complementary to the lawyer’s skill set, completing “99% of the tedious work, leaving the high-value 1% to the human.” Luminance’s core technology, LITE (the Legal Inference Transformation Engine) uses a unique blend of supervised and unsupervised machine learning to immediately read and form an understanding of huge volumes of data in any language and from any jurisdiction, and then displays and categorises the data in an intuitive and visual way. LITE enables lawyers to undertake reviews far faster than a human could without sacrificing confidence in the review.

Maintaining compliance with increasingly complex international regulation such as GDPR or LIBOR reviews requires lawyers to get across the entirety of a firms contracts efficiently. As Shannon pointed out, “The deadlines for LIBOR aren’t changing and for that AI tools are essential.” Using Luminance enables lawyers to handle regulatory change quickly and confidence. For instance, a global retail bank used Luminance on a 2017 GDPR compliance review. LITE automatically exposed documents that deviated from GDPR-compliant wording, and then learnt from the team’s interaction with the documents to proactively suggest clauses with similar wording across the entire project. As a result, the team was able to complete the review in just two weeks, compared to the nine weeks they predicted for a manual review.

With Luminance, lawyers are able to meet the changing demands of their clients, leveraging the power of AI to increase efficiency and generate vast time-savings in review, which lawyers can in turn use to provide a greater quality and quantity of analysis to their client.