Recapping TechLaw.Fest 2022: In Discussion with Gilbert + Tobin

28 July 2022 | Luminance

Earlier this month, Luminance was delighted to attend TechLaw.Fest. The flagship conference returned to Singapore with a bang, bringing together industry leaders from across the in-house and private practice community to discuss the latest developments and technological innovations in the field of law.

A highlight of the three-day conference was the discussion between Luminance and Caryn Sandler, Partner and Chief Innovation Officer at leading Australian law firm, Gilbert + Tobin. The conversation focused upon the growing adoption of AI across the legal sector, as law firms and businesses alike seek to understand their obligations and drive profitability against a backdrop of enhanced global regulation and growing efficiency demands.

Supercharging Document Reviews with AI

Caryn opened the discussion by describing how Gilbert + Tobin initially adopted Luminance in 2016 to keep pace with the evolving legal industry, which had turned to technology to cope not only with the exploding data volumes involved in document review but also increased demand from clients to rethink legal service delivery. Because Luminance uses AI to read and understand legal documentation, it can automate the bulk of labour-intensive review work, displaying key information such as clauses, dates, party names and governing laws back to the lawyer across a series of interactive visualisations. From this intuitive interface, Gilbert + Tobin’s lawyers have been able to understand multiple areas of their documents at a mere glance and drill down into specific areas of interest.

As Caryn explained: “We have large document sets and it’s really useful to get an understanding of some of their key datapoints, whether it be the different geographies or knowing whether we have to engage foreign counsel or getting a spread of how similar the documents are and what clauses exist. We can get really good insight.”

Indeed, in the time-pressured legal world, the ability of Luminance’s AI to locate the ‘smoking gun’ across thousands of documents gives legal teams the ability to provide timely strategic counsel to their clients, affording them the maximum competitive advantage during negotiations or when making crucial business decisions. For instance, during the pandemic, many companies found themselves having to quickly and efficiently assess their contracts to understand their level of risk exposure. Caryn noted how Gilbert + Tobin used Luminance to rapidly identify Force Majeure and Change of Control Clauses, allowing the firm to fully appraise clients on their contractual obligations and risk profile, providing strategic advice accordingly.

Caryn elaborated on this issue further, saying that: “Getting those initial insights into a large volume of documents in a very, very short period of time is incredibly useful... You still need to do the legal work, but Luminance gives you the insight!

The Drive for Efficiency

A key theme that emerged from the discussion was the ability for technology like Luminance to facilitate the delivery of a better service to law firms’ clients. Caryn noted that technology utilisation to streamline legal service delivery is consistently the focus of many RFPs and Business Proposals today, indicating a growing expectation among clients that advanced technology will be deployed in order to deliver time savings and efficiency.

Commenting on the future of legal services, Caryn said: “If I think about where we’re going, we’re starting to see a real desire from clients for law firms, particularly, to utilise technology and drive efficiency. I think that is expected now and that will only become more expected over the next few years.”

Of course, there are multiple beneficiaries when it comes to AI adoption. Firstly, the lawyer, who is freed from the labour-intensive process of document review and can prioritise their time on more important tasks, such as developing strategy and providing expert counsel. Secondly, the client, who can take advantage of faster response times from their lawyer and the first-mover advantage, informed by the technology’s data analysis and findings. Commenting on the relationship between time savings on document review and reduced cost savings for the end client, Caryn said: “At Gilbert + Tobin, our view is that we will use technology where it is appropriate, even if it means that it is ultimately reducing billable hours. Our target is to drive efficiency and that is expected by our clients. That is our motivation internally.”

Looking Ahead in an Evolving Legal Sector

The discussion acknowledged that, five years ago, there was certainly some apprehension that AI would replace the work carried out by legal professionals. Now, Caryn noted, there is a widespread understanding that legal process automation technology actually augments the lawyer, allowing them to use the skills honed throughout their legal education: “Dialogue has really changed in that what we’re saying now is AI can support a lawyer in their actual work. So, it can be your helping hand and you can gain some insights, such as telling you that there’s a change of control clause in a particular document. It [AI] won’t tell you whether that clause has been triggered. And that’s great news for lawyers because people can do the work that they’ve been trained to do!

As conversation turned towards the future of the legal industry, it was clear that current geopolitical and economic events mean that the high volume of work for both in-house teams and private practices won’t be going away any time soon. Work overload and talent retention, already a hot topic in the industry, look set to be major pain-points for legal departments worldwide. As Caryn emphasised: “We are going to have to make work as efficient as possible and the reason for that is because we might not have enough personnel to deliver on that work.”

Coming away from TechLaw.Fest it was clear that AI is no longer a nice-to-have - it is essential for any efficient legal department or law firm. With Caryn’s prediction that “I expect [AI] adoption to skyrocket over the next five to ten years”, it’s apparent that an attitude shift is taking place as law firms seek to deliver optimal legal services in the face of major global and policy shifts. As attendees were able to hear first-hand, in a time of great change the opportunity has never been greater to embrace next-generation AI and drive profitability in today’s highly competitive legal market.

Click here to watch Luminance’s full discussion with Gilbert + Tobin at TechLaw.Fest. If you’re interested in learning more about AI-powered legal process automation, request a product demonstration here.