Magic circle embraces artificial intelligence

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By Thomas Connelly on

Clifford Chance latest outfit to embrace futuristic robot-style tech to improve speed, efficiency and quality


Magic circle giant Clifford Chance is the latest City outfit to embrace the mysterious world of artificial intelligence (AI), striking a deal with Canadian software provider Kira Systems.

According to the Canary Wharf based firm, the intelligent software will help its lawyers quickly analyse contracts, identify potential legal issues, improve speed, and, as a result, increase all round efficiency.

Furthermore — according to the software designer — not only can Kira be put to work straight away, requiring very little set up time, she it can actually learn on the job, growing in intelligence through training provided by the firm’s lawyers.

The superbly named Bas Boris Visser, global head of innovation and business change at Clifford Chance, said:

Our clients are under substantial pressure to reduce legal spend. At the same time, they need more support to manage the increasing risks and complex issues that their companies are facing. Deploying Kira is an exciting next step in helping our clients address this demand for greater value, and very much fits into our strategy of embracing innovation to ensure that we deliver the best service to our clients.

With the magic circle outfit aiming to alleviate the time spent on traditional due diligence methods — work usually reserved for the firm’s trainees and paralegals — this does raise the question as to how Kira’s introduction will impact on future recruitment.

Clifford Chance, which currently offers around 100 training contracts annually, told Legal Cheek it would have “no” effect.

Kira Systems — which is headed-up by ex-Weil, Gotshal & Manges lawyer Noah Waisberg — has already teamed up with the likes of DLA Piper and Canadian law firm Torys LLP, and Chapman and Cutler. But Clifford Chance appears to be its most prestigious partner to date.

Earlier this summer Linklaters’ put pen to paper on a similar deal with London-based AI service provider RAVN. Undertaking a number of automated tasks similar to that of Kira, a spokesperson for Linklaters at the time said:

We have a master services agreement in place with RAVN, which was signed recently. Having this agreement will enable us to create statements of work and use the technology if it is likely to be of benefit to us and or our clients.

All well and good but how long before the machines, which have initially been employed only for menial tasks, take on greater and greater responsibility.

Particularly, now it has been admitted that, like a human, they are capable of learning on the job. In short, who will make partner at Clifford Chance first — the brightest trainee of his or her generation starting in September or some bastard offspring of Kira? It promises to be a close run thing…