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Working smarter

Innovation in the practice of law

No industry is immune from the

disruptive effects of technology, and

the legal profession has exploded

with products that are impacting

working practices. Tasks like large

scale document reviews have been

transformed as a result. Traditionally,

trainees would be sent to a physical

'data room' to manually review

boxes of paper contracts. Now

'virtual data rooms' have become the

norm and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

review platforms use pattern-finding

algorithms to interrogate documents

at the touch of a button. Advances

in legal tech are also extending

to drafting, proofreading, project

management, analytics, signing,

litigation, finance and compliance.

Where processes exist, there is

potential for automation to make

lawyers' jobs easier. Where data exists,

it is possible to extract patterns to

give lawyers deeper understanding,

quantify risk and plan strategy.

Our AI tool is called Luminance. We

believe that its level of sophistication,

both technically and in terms of the

legal expertise embedded within it,

makes it a market leader. This tool

is already deeply ingrained in our

practice, and every trainee is taught

to use it. Such is its effectiveness that

lawyers will have to explain why they

didn't use it, not why they did.

Technology is just one area in which

we can innovate. The skill set of an

effective lawyer is changing, itself

influenced by technology and process

improvement: this impacts our

training and recruitment. Resourcing

of legal projects is changing. It may be

more efficient to bring in experts such

as data analysts or project managers

than lawyers.

By being familiar with the disruption

our clients are experiencing, we are

able to ensure that we provide the

optimum service.

At Slaughter and May, progress is

underpinned by communication

and collaboration. Our Head of

Innovation, Jane Stewart, and partner

innovation lead, Rob Sumroy, run

an Innovation Network of over

200 people, with an online forum

for publishing thought and insight

pieces, and for engaging in debate.

We also engage our clients in specific

elements of brainstorming and

testing, and collaborate with clients,

industry experts and entrepreneurs

to help shape the development of

legal tech. We are also working with

Oxford University and various other

third parties in a government funded

initiative exploring how we train the

lawyers of the future.

Last, and most definitely not least,

we are innovating to make sure that

technology really does what it was

intended to do: make life better.

Great productivity involves downtime

and rest, and protecting that - even

from technology itself - is vital.

We believe innovation is at the heart of legal practice and this is reflected in the

way we approach every piece of work. Challenging the way we work through

open-mindedness, diversity and creativity can have an enormous impact on

results for our clients, our efficiency, and our wellbeing.

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