TechLaw.Fest made its in-person return to Singapore this month, bringing together legal professionals and innovation experts from across the APAC region for three days of thought-provoking discussion and a showcase of the latest industry innovations.
During the jam-packed event, Rory McDaid, Senior Account Executive at Luminance, participated in a panel chaired by Eric Chin, Director at PwC NewLaw, discussing how law firms and businesses have approached digitisation and the business of law since emerging from the pandemic. Here are some key takeaways from the panel.
i. An Industry Still in Transition
The panel noted that despite many law firms having the existing infrastructure in place to facilitate hybrid working during the pandemic, such as video conferencing technologies and shared storage systems, most were unequipped to deal with the processing of legal documentation.
One example highlighted during the panel was the use of Luminance by London barristers’ chambers, The 36 Group, ahead of a historic murder trial at the Old Bailey. Whilst working from home due to the pandemic, the 20-person team, consisting of lawyers and police officers, found that the Crown Court Digital Case System was unable to provide remote access to the relevant evidence and court materials. The team turned to Luminance, using the platform’s in-built collaboration and project management tools to ensure that there was no duplication of work or wasted resource across the team. Given the difficulty of conducting a review of this scale in normal times let alone during a pandemic, AI demonstrated itself to be a key driver of efficiency in a practice area notorious for being under incredible strain.
Whilst the pandemic certainly acted as a catalyst for technology adoption, the panel agreed that the digitisation of the legal industry is still ongoing. With the APAC region only recently emerging from the pandemic to a host of new challenges, such as exploding volumes of legal content, increased efficiency demands and enhanced regulatory thresholds, AI adoption has become mission-critical for any forward-thinking firm looking to drive profitability in a highly competitive market post-pandemic.
ii. Coping with Enhanced Regulation
The panel also discussed how AI adoption is now being driven by major geopolitical and policy shifts. The sheer volume and complexity of global regulation, ranging from data protection legislation to financial regulation and global sanctions now present one of the most pressing challenges for both businesses and their legal departments.
The panel discussed how technology is increasingly being used to maintain compliance against this complex backdrop, with Rory noting how several companies have found themselves needing to quickly and efficiently assess their contracts to identify ties to recently sanctioned entities. Rory described how the world-leading pharmaceuticals giant, IDEXX Laboratories, used Luminance to rapidly analyse contracts across their entire supply chain and assess their level of exposure. With Luminance, IDEXX found they were able to analyse their contractual landscape in just twenty minutes, providing its in-house legal team with a high degree of confidence that any relevant exposure had been identified.
In a constantly evolving and unpredictable world, legal teams everywhere face vast challenges. Rory explained that AI is essential for organisations to ensure compliance with global regulation, providing enhanced contractual understanding and freeing legal professionals up to deal with the other implications that these changes carry.
iii. Taking A Problem-Led Approach to Technology Adoption
A key talking point on the panel was how the excitement surrounding AI and its potential to transform processes across the legal industry has led to an explosion of ‘solutions’ on the market. Many law firms and businesses that have consequently suffered from ‘tech fatigue’ after investing in multiple point solutions and accruing a large, unwieldy tech stack.
Rory described how an approach which involved the identification of specific pain-points a particular legal team faces is essential when adopting new technology. For instance, AI can automate the bulk of legal document review work undertaken by junior lawyers. For General Counsel, meanwhile, the value of AI lies in its ability to automate high-volume, low-value tasks, such as the negotiation of Non-Disclosure Agreements. The panel discussed how this process is now being supported by new functions, such as Innovation Officers and Legal Operations Managers. However, as Rory noted, the key to understanding whether a technology can support a team’s legal needs is trying it out on your documents – something that Luminance offers all prospective customers for free!
Rory concluded by explaining how a single, end-to-end platform is the simplest solution to address an organisation’s pain-points. Whereas tech stacks inevitably result in vital legal information being siloed across multiple environments, a single platform such as Luminance eliminates inefficiencies by ensuring that all knowledge is centrally accessible to the user: “Organisations require self-service solutions which allow other stakeholders within the business to engage with legal. Efficiency shouldn’t be restricted to legal in terms of their function – it should extend to the way they engage with external stakeholders, whether they are private practice or in-house legal teams, because that’s where true efficiency lies.”
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