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Reflecting on Five Years in Business

30 September 2021 | Luminance

Luminance has come a long way since launching just five years ago, growing from a series of algorithms written on a whiteboard in Cambridge to a world-leading AI company with over 350 customers in 60 countries. This year alone, Luminance has seen record-breaking success, having been named a ‘Future Fifty Company’ by Tech Nation, ranked a global leader in legal tech by Chambers and Partners, expanded its customer base to include household names like Tesco and Ferrero, and launched a brand-new product, Luminance Corporate, a tool to revolutionise the process of creating and negotiating contracts.

To celebrate Luminance’s birthday, we’ve reflected on the last five years and five interesting and outstanding ways in which Luminance’s technology has been used.

The First Ever Use of AI at the Old Bailey

Luminance made history in 2020 after it became the first use of artificial intelligence at one of the UK’s highest criminal courts, the Old Bailey. Leading London barristers’ chambers, The 36 Group, deployed Luminance to rapidly analyse over 10,000 documents in order to establish a defence ahead of a high-profile murder trial. By reading and analysing the document set and presenting all key information back to the team, Luminance enabled an investigating team of 20 people, including forensic experts, former police officers, solicitors and barriers, to cull irrelevant data and get to the crux of the case, shaving four weeks of the total review time.

Sally Hobson, one of the barristers leading the case, explained: “We knew this case would be very paper-heavy and we needed a platform which could host all of the materials, help us analyse the information and then process it to be used in preparation for trial…AI software is giving us the possibility of equality of arms and, therefore, a fair trial for the defendant.”

Covid-19 Acted as a Catalyst for AI Adoption

The Covid-19 pandemic and resultant social distancing caused disruption across all industries and highlighted the need for technology that would allow legal teams to continue with business-as-usual, regardless of location. Luminance’s cloud-based platform proved vital for clients, not only to aid communication and collaboration in the face of remote working, but also to help legal teams conduct Covid-related reviews, from force majeure reviews to Data Subject Access Requests (DSARs) following a spike in redundancies.

For example, in the height of the pandemic, the world’s largest law firm, Dentons, used Luminance to seamlessly conduct a vast review of over 180,000 documents for a cross-border case. The legal team managed to review the entire dataset in just two weeks, collaborating between their UK and Dubai offices. Luminance’s workflow tools allowed them to allocate tasks, monitor progress and deliver faster client feedback all whilst working remotely, enabling a more efficient, streamlined review.

Dealing with the Fallout from Covid-19: The Infamous Force Majeure Clause

In addition to social distancing, Covid-19 presented further challenges for businesses. Legal terminology entered the mainstream as news broke of organisations worldwide seeking to understand how force majeure clauses in contracts might impact their operations. Dentons’ Madrid office found Luminance to be critical when conducting a review of real estate lease agreements to check for force majeure clauses. These clauses would determine whether their clients had the right to terminate the agreement or stop paying the rent altogether under a potential force majeure provision, so it was vital that the review could be conducted rapidly. Using Luminance, Dentons’ legal team were able to detect an unexpected force majeure clause in the set of contracts on just day one of the review, putting their client in the best position to negotiate with the real estate company.

Helping Lawyers with Reviews of Any Size

Since day one, Luminance has been used to assist lawyers with document reviews of any size, from eDiscovery exercises involving millions of documents, to small-scale yet complex regulatory compliance reviews. Notably, in 2018, Bird & Bird were tasked with a high-volume due diligence case that involved over 200,000 documents in need of review within a tight timeframe. The team uploaded over a million pages of data to Luminance overnight and were able to begin their review instantly. Despite this being the first time that Luminance had been exposed to German language documents, Luminance immediately identified hidden anomalies in the dataset. Using manual methods, the team had typically been able to review 79 documents per hour. However, with Luminance, they found that they were able to review 3,600 documents per hour and, therefore, a team of two associates were able to complete this data-heavy review in just three weeks.

Attracting and Retaining the Brightest Young Lawyers with Technology

In the words of Jan Smit, former Knowledge & Innovation Manager at Slaughter & 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. If we don’t have these resources in place, we might lose that talent.”

Bright junior would-be lawyers seem to be increasingly questioning whether the prospect of sleepless nights trawling through endless swathes of documents is for them. With competition fierce for top talent, firms are looking to differentiate themselves – and technology has become an important way of doing this. By automating the bulk of repetitive manual reviews, AI like Luminance is improving the workloads of junior lawyers, allowing them to focus more time on higher-value analysis, utilising the skills that they studied to acquire and ensuring they get exposed to a wider range of projects faster. This in turn reduces ‘burnout’ and helps firms to retain the lawyers that they have invested time into training.

What’s Next for Luminance?

Looking to the future, we are excited to see what the next five years hold for the company. Document review lies at the very heart of the legal profession, and Luminance has proven that AI can truly transform this process. The next stop on our journey is creating a product specifically designed to assist in-house legal teams, and having already seen a 60% increase in uptake by corporate customers in 2020, including huge names like Ferrero and Tesco, there’s little doubt that this market is ripe for transformation.