Looking Back on Legalweek 2023

20 April 2023 | Luminance

Last month, Luminance was back in action at ALM’s flagship conference, Legalweek, in New York. The event played host to several thought-provoking discussions, with a particular focus on how advanced technologies like AI are swiftly becoming an essential component of legal teams, helping to optimise enterprise data, drive operational efficiencies and boost profitability.

These were just a few of the themes touched upon by Luminance’s CEO, Eleanor Lightbody, during an insightful panel discussion alongside several leading figures from the in-house legal community: Laura Pickle, CIO & Discovery Director at Koch Industries, Jeannine Moran, Director of Legal and Compliance – Operations & Technology at Hitachi Vantara and George Niño, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Yokogawa Corporation of America.

In case you missed it, here are our top five takeaways from the panel.

i. Utilising AI to Do More with Less

In the current global economic climate, businesses everywhere are looking to control costs and boost efficiency across every department. Despite the likelihood of experiencing higher workloads in times of uncertainty, legal departments are not exempt to such pressures, necessitating the delivery of more value with existing resource.

During the session, Laura Pickle from Koch, the second largest private company in the United States, explained that one of the initial motivations behind their AI adoption was to get the right work to the right place more efficiently: “It’s about comparative advantage. Obviously an attorney is going to have absolute advantage, but comparatively, can the tech get you at least part of the way there? It’s not about replacing attorneys, it’s about retraining them to use the software”. With Luminance’s AI expediting routine, administrative processes, such as workflow allocation and standardised contract drafting, Koch’s lawyers are now elevated to focus on more complex matters such as M&A work, focusing resource where it truly counts.

ii. Delivering Value Across the Business

Perhaps the most prevalent theme to emerge from the panel discussion was around the benefits AI technology can deliver across the entire business. With so much current media coverage around the commercial potential of AI, our panellists were quick to note how business-wide engagement with AI has never been greater.

Both Koch and Hitachi are using Luminance’s ‘Traffic Light Analysis’ and contract templating functionality to enable non-legal functions to draft and negotiate highly repetitive, standardised contracts such as NDAs, within Microsoft Word. Jeannine Moran from Hitachi Vantara described the significant impact this functionality has had at Hitachi, with NDAs now taking the business only 5 minutes from inception to signature. Legal is not only freed up for more value-add tasks, but Sales functions are empowered to generate compliant contracts and accelerate time to revenue.

And on the post-execution side, Luminance is helping business leaders to make data-driven decisions. With AI affording legal teams complete insight into their company’s contractual landscape, the entire business can be alerted to upcoming expiry dates or areas of new revenue opportunities. Echoing Jeannine’s comments, George Niño from Yokogawa aptly summarised: “There is a holistic, strategic side of Luminance […] This information is data – that is the lifeblood of a company. So we now have a more thoughtful approach to managing those contracts.”

iii. Attracting and Retaining Talent

The panellists also touched on the potential of AI for attracting and retaining top legal talent. Particularly for the incoming generation of lawyers who have grown up in a digital age, having access to advanced technology that automates administrative tasks and facilitates focus on more sophisticated work will, as George from Yokagawa pointed out, encourage more people to join and stay with the team: “If you have people reviewing NDAs day in and day out, naturally there is going to be burnout. So you need to provide them with the tools they need and to show them that you are grateful for the work they do.”

And whilst AI technology can serve as a real draw factor for employees, it can also help employers to distinguish stand-out candidates for whom the business is a good cultural fit. As Jeannine from Hitachi explained, “being able to talk about how and why we’re using AI is also something that makes it easy to identify those candidates who you know are going to be a good fit and bring something to the table, embracing AI.”

iv. Fostering a Culture of Innovation

All of the panellists agreed that it was testing the power of AI technology on their own documents that was key for ensuring buy-in, not just within Legal but across the entire business. Hitachi, for example, began by trialling Luminance’s contract generation on low-risk contracts like NDAs. In just two weeks, non-legal functions were up and running with this new model. Jeanine explained: “the business loved it because they can now generate their own agreement that they know has gone through all the legal thresholds […] In five minutes we can now get a signed NDA from start to finish.”

The panellists also explained how approaching the more traditional, risk averse lawyers first can be a good way of proving the power of AI to any “tech-sceptics” within the business. By involving them in the implementation journey early on, they can see how AI is there to augment rather than replace their expertise. Jeannine proposed: “Start with the most difficult attorney. If you can convert him, he’ll bring everyone with him”.

v. Maintaining Compliance

Finally, the panellists also discussed the value AI can deliver in terms of maintaining compliance across their respective organisations. George described Luminance as a “real gamechanger” for Yokogawa in this regard, drawing upon their experience during the COVID-19 pandemic and the business-wide supply chain and delivery disruption they faced. Where previously it had taken the team hours or even days to understand their exposure within the context of force majeure clauses, Luminance completes tasks like this in a matter of minutes.

Luminance’s powerful AI-driven insights can also help legal teams to minimise their use of third-party paper and thus, better comply with internal standards. Thanks to the spatial widget in Luminance’s AI-powered contract repository, Hitachi’s agreements are now organised into clusters, immediately displaying any third-party documents as outliers in the dataset. Jeannine went on to explain: “Now we’ve introduced this concept, we’re seeing a big uptick in the adoption of using our paper. And of course, if we use our paper, we’re going to get there quicker! It is improving our service delivery”.