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Utilising technology for the success of junior lawyers and their firms

6 August 2020 | Luminance

Attracting and retaining talented lawyers is ever more important to the success of legal teams globally. Amid a difficult environment for junior lawyers with growing data volumes contributing to high rates of legal burnout, businesses and lawyers are looking for ways to distinguish themselves from the competition and retain their top talent. At a recent webinar with the International Legal Technology Association, Luminance spoke with Gavin Williams, Partner at Holland & Knight, member of the Artificial Intelligence Committee and co-chair of Associate mentoring for the firm’s Miami office, about how technology might offer a solution to these challenges.

Standing out from the crowd

From Gavin William’s perspective, using legal technology which can promote efficiencies is becoming ever more important for firms looking to set themselves apart and attract the most talented lawyers to their team. In today’s market “junior lawyers graduating have an awful lot of options” and “junior lawyers want to go where the cutting edge is and frankly, they should want to go where the cutting edge is”. For many young lawyers, technology which can reduce the time spent on laborious tasks such as searching through ever-growing data sets searching for relevant clauses, instead allowing them to spend more hours on the high-value areas of critical thinking and analysis that they trained for, is vital. In such an environment, Gavin feels that “law firms are going to have to implement some level of technology strategy to retain their junior lawyers and keep them happy”.

The increasing questions that firms receive from prospective hires about their use of technology also reflects the extent to which AI and legal technology is becoming the new normal for innovative lawyers. As Gavin pointed out, “lawyers are beginning to ask for - or even require - law firms to be using the best technology, and we see that in all aspects of the business these days, from customers as well. It really is running from the clients to the partners and on to the younger lawyers”.

To empower lawyers in an increasingly complex and unpredictable legal environment, Luminance’s core intelligence, the Legal Inference Transformation Engine (LITE), is a unique blend of cutting edge supervised and unsupervised machine learning which can read and form an understanding of all documents within a dataset. After analysing documents, Luminance tags key information such as contract type, dates, parties, governing law and clauses. Luminance also flags anomalies to the lawyer so that they can prioritise potential risks at the beginning of the review. Luminance enhances lawyers’ review, allowing them to cut through large data sets to rapidly identify key documents pertinent to the matter at hand. For legal teams, the potential to reduce the burden of more monotonous tasks which so often fall on junior lawyers (such as physical marking up of datapoints in contracts for later comparison) is vast, and has proved to be a valuable asset in attracting the best young lawyers.

Training for the legal sector of the future

Just as firms are adopting AI in order to attract the next generation of talented lawyers, many of those same lawyers are turning to technology in order to best position themselves in a competitive legal jobs market. As Gavin noted, “If a younger associate is helping you go out into the marketplace and bring more business in, you bet they distinguish themselves from someone who isn’t.” Junior lawyers who are capable of using AI not only to increase the efficiency of their work, but then work across extra projects with the time-savings that technology delivers, therefore have a significant advantage.

It is increasingly important for firms, law schools and law students themselves to consider where these skills can be acquired in a world where AI and legal technology is rapidly becoming the new normal. For Gavin, it is a question of when, not if, as “law schools are going to start adopting legal technology … quicker than law firms will.” To this end the University of Glasgow recently teamed up with top-tier Scottish law firm, Burness Paull and Luminance, to provide an e-learning module as part of the University’s Postgraduate Law.

At Luminance, we have seen the real value AI has in supporting junior lawyers, enabling them to reduce the burden of document review and focus delivering the highest quality legal advice, with conclusion drawn from a thorough understanding of their documents . In turn, firms that have embraced the benefits of AI are best placed to attract the most talented young lawyers and retain them, growing the business’s future leaders and positioning them for future success.