Corporate legal departments are the change agents for how law is delivered, legal operators were told at the first CLOC event in London yesterday. In a speech which resonated with the 180 attendees, Richard Susskind, the author of The Future of the Professions, and an early advocate of technology in the eighties, told them they were now leading legaltech development and questioned why it had not happened earlier. At the event, some of the world's leading companies discussed key topics impacting global departments - from machine learning to delivering efficiencies - with the emphasis on collaboration.
Discussing machine learning and the impact of AI on the profession. Google's head of Legal Technology projects Julian Tsisin says that lawyers need to cut through the hype around artificial technology in the legal sector. He said it was generating 'eco-inflated expectations', adding 'AI is not a magic box that is going to do everything for us.' The reality was that AI would not solve all the problems but would make a big difference in areas where the right data was collated. Lawyers tended to believe they were more accurate than AI but, with the right information, this was not the case and examples were given where the machine beat humans on a number of occasions.
Patents and AI
One of the areas where AI made a difference was in the area of patents. Mr Tsisin and Google's head of legal operations, Mary Shen O’Carroll, a founder of CLOC, told the audience how they quickly saw the benefits of AI systems for reviewing large volumes of documents. One example they discussed was reviewing complex patent documents as part of the acquisition of another company with over 50,000 patent docs to review. They estimated that it would take a member of the legal team three years and the equivalent cost of $1.5m in time to do this review. If they used a larger team, the costs would be a lot for simply reviewing documents.With a room full of lawyers, it would still take many weeks. The general view from the Google team was that the cost of adoption was high but that the benefits outweighed the cost for some areas but not others.
CLOC is a fast-growing organisation which encourages collaboration between legal operations in multinational companies. The CLOC Institute's next event will be in Las Vegas and the group plans to launch in Australia later this year.