Lawyers urged to embrace AI as LIDW explores city’s global dispute centre credentials

Ben Rigby reports from London International Disputes Week’s main conference in Westminster

Richard Susskind speaks via recorded address

“AI will only replace the lawyers who fail to embrace it,” delegates at London International Disputes Week (LIDW) were told yesterday (4 June).

That was the message of AI governance expert, barrister Rachael Muldoon of Maitland Chambers, during a session on the impact of AI at LIDW’s core conference in a session which featured insights from Professor Richard Susskind, via a recorded address.

LIDW’s main conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster featured an array of topics pertinent to London’s efforts to maintain its status as a leading global disputes centre, including ESG, litigation funding, the enforcement of judgments and disputes involving states.

Susskind and the AI panel reinforced two key takeaways: that predictions about the short-term impact of AI may be overstated, but that the long-term impact could be understated. Susskind, an author, speaker and adviser on legal technology, restated his belief that the legal profession is poised for transformation through the integration of AI. 

Empowerment lay at the centre of his speech. He said the development of the next generation of AI was turning its potential into reality, highlighting its ability to perform tasks previously thought only possible by humans. The “holy grail”, he said, was a system that could predict legal risk.

Susskind predicted advances in AI would lead to “irreversible, pervasive change” in the law by 2030. He said the challenge was to “find new and different ways of giving our clients what they want, with the same outcome” in “less painful, less costly, less time consuming” ways. 

The panel was chaired by disputes and investigations partner Minesh Tanna , Simmons & Simmons’ global AI lead, and also included, alongside Muldoon, Stephen Dowling, a director at TrialView, and Jonathan White, solutions architect for legal solutions at Epiq.

While there was concern about AI replacing human judgment, its ability to identify issues, and to be integrated into legal workflows and processes was also discussed.

The debate focused as much on AI’s challenges as its opportunities, including the dangers posed by deepfakes and hallucinations.

The ESG panel was chaired by Moira Thompson Oliver, Slaughter and May’s head of business and human rights. It featured Nicola Cobb, senior managing director of forensic and litigation consulting at FTI Consulting, Blackstone Chambers’ Shaheed Fatima KC, and Simon Mundy, moral money editor at the Financial Times.

The session explored the challenges faced by organisations in balancing the need to advance their sustainability and ESG objectives, meet associated reporting and due diligence obligations, and protect their position in the resolution of related disputes.

Lawyers have to be aware of the regulatory and societal expectations companies increasingly must meet. The discussion covered topics including regulation, reporting, litigation and positive action. 

It went beyond expressing ESG litigation as solely defined by climate change challenges; it also included supply chain considerations and the role of technology in ESG, among other issues.

However, Mundy’s urgent plea for lawyers to make good faith attempts to be part of the solution to that crisis resonated most with the audience. Climate change is having immediate physical impacts in the places most affected by it, like the permafrost in Siberia, and while far from the headlines, those impacts are very real – and so is the urgency fo the need to address them. 

There were also sessions exploring the global landscape for enforcement of judgments and awards and the resolution of disputes involving states and state entities, which featured former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard AC and ex-UK attorney general Lord Goldsmith KC.

Commercial Court judge Mrs Justice Cockerill joined a panel to discuss the future of litigation funding which saw the audience agree with the speakers that the imposition of a statutory cap on returns for funders was likely to be impractical. 

The conference had kicked off with a keynote by the Lady Chief Justice, Dame Sue Carr, who mooted the establishment of a London committee that brings together representatives from the courts, arbitral centres and mediation providers to promote cross-fertilisation and best practice.

The day concluded with a speech by Meg Kinnear, outgoing secretary-general of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), who said the ICSID had made “huge progress” with improving transparency and said its relevancy was underlined by the fact it had registered 1,118 cases to date.

The client’s view, meanwhile, was represented by a panel of general counsel, who discussed their experience of bringing disputes in London. It also featured an interview with Virgin Group CEO Josh Bayliss, who offered a senior leader’s view of the business world, in which navigating uncertainty and change is a constant while maintaining a long-term perspective is crucial. 

That included considering the role of lawyers in facilitating social changes and considering dispute resolution approaches beyond the usual winner-takes-all mentalities. 

However, he finished the morning with a killer dispute resolution quote, telling a supportive audience: “I want to have my fights in London.”

With more than 6,000 registrations and participation from nearly 100 different jurisdictions, LIDW24 has recorded double the international delegate representation compared to last year, while delegates from nearly 60 countries will attend the conference.

The Global Legal Post is a media sponsor for LIDW.

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