There was an electrifying atmosphere at this year’s Legal Geek conference, as the UK’s flagship conference made a return to London. During a jam-packed two days of networking and panel discussions, industry professionals from across the legal and technology communities came together to discuss the latest strategies and innovations that are driving the legal profession into the next decade and beyond.
Kicking off day one, Luminance’s CEO, Eleanor Lightbody, and Connagh McCormick, General Counsel at proSapient, took to the stage to discuss how organisations can automate their legal departments to boost efficiency and drive business growth.
Start-Ups Are Turning to AI to Standardise Legal Processes
Like many early-stage technology companies, proSapient have been experiencing an exciting period of global growth since Connagh joined 18 months ago. He noted, however, that when joining a young, high-growth company, “from a legal perspective, there’s often a lack of process or none at all. You come in and try and find your contracts but they are in email boxes, select channels or don’t exist”. With contracts and crucial documents often scattered across an enterprise, siloed in email chains or personal folders, the ability of any in-house legal team to rapidly locate and analyse contracts is not only essential when responding to urgent legal and commercial questions, but is also crucial for any young business looking to enter new markets and remain compliant with different regulatory requirements.
Faced with high-growth targets and growing efficiency demands from both internal and external stakeholders, Connagh explained that proSapient sought a one-stop-shop solution that would centralise the business’s contracts, whilst also automating routine legal processes such as contract drafting, negotiation and review. He noted: “We were looking for an AI solution to take time off my hands – I didn’t have time to sit and go through loads of contracts all day to find an expiration date, for example.”
Faced with these challenges, proSpaient turned to Luminance’s AI-powered legal automation tool earlier this year. With Luminance acting as AI-powered intelligent repository for all proSapient’s contracts, including those under negotiation and already agreed, proSapient finally have access to “a single source of truth”. Now, Connagh’s legal team can instantly locate relevant contracts across their enterprise before leveraging Luminance’s AI-powered insights to rapidly respond to urgent business queries. Importantly, the efficiencies gained through using Luminance now mean that the legal department no longer represents a drain on resource, but instead can add value to the wider business, whether by providing strategic counsel to C-suite executives or mitigating legal risk: “It was only after implementing Luminance to the wider business that we realised there are actually so many benefits, not just to our legal team, but to our stakeholders.”
Attracting and Retaining Talent with AI
When asked by Eleanor about the key challenges facing in-house legal teams today, Connagh explained that “one of the biggest problems I’m facing, and I know a lot of other in-house legal teams face, is talent retention.” In addition to competing with private practice firms on salary, Connagh noted that in-house legal teams are seeing a growing expectation among junior lawyers that businesses will have implemented technology to assist them with time-consuming review work – a sentiment that was not shared when he was a student and “refused to look at anything online”.
For the new generation of lawyers who have grown up with technology at their fingertips, it is clear that they expect their working lives to be no different. After honing their legal skills at school for so many years, young and ambitious lawyers want the opportunity to exercise their expertise, whether by thinking critically and creatively about a business issue or giving timely counsel to other business functions across a variety of legal topics. With AI automating routine tasks such as contract drafting and the review of highly standardised documents such as incoming Sales Agreements, proSapient can ensure that resource is servicing the value-added tasks that its lawyers really want to spend their time on. As Connagh explained, “AI allows you to automate a lot of the day-to-day monotonous tasks that a junior or associate is going to do...I think for talent retention, AI is really important.”
A Future with AI
When asked what the future of legal work looks like, Connagh predicted that “AI is going to become synonymous with legal teams, both in-house and private practice.” Whilst technology implementation across the sector has already accelerated at an exceptional rate, there is still a sense that those who have embraced AI, specifically, will find themselves ahead in today’s highly competitive legal market: “If legal teams do not implement these solutions, they are just going to fall behind and make what they are offering less appealing.”
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