Slaughter and May becomes latest magic circle firm to embrace artificial intelligence

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By Thomas Connelly on

New robot-style tech is designed to “think like a lawyer”


Uber-traditional magic circle outfit Slaughter and May has become the latest firm to put pen to paper on a deal that will see it use artificial intelligence (AI).

The system (or cool robot as Legal Cheek likes to think of it) is called Luminance, and has been created by a team of lawyers and mathematicians.

Thanks to financial backing from Invoke Capital — a technology investment fund — and research and development courtesy of the University of Cambridge, Luminance will, according to its creators, “transform the legal due diligence process.”

Luminance, which appears to be some sort of super legal mind, will be able to read (and understand) hundreds of pages of complex legal documentation every minute. According to Luminance’s CEO, Emily Foges, the AI system will be “trained to think like a lawyer.” Continuing, she said:

With Slaughter and May’s help, we are designing the system to understand how lawyers think, and to draw out key findings without the need to be told what to look for. This will transform document analysis and enhance the entire transaction process for law firms and their clients. Highly-trained lawyers who would otherwise be scanning through thousands of pages of repetitive documents can spend more of their time analysing the findings and negotiating the terms of the deal.

Having piloted the system for a number of months, Slaughters has embraced the futuristic tech, signing a deal with Luminance’s creators. Details regarding the length and terms of the contract are still not clear.

Steve Cooke, senior partner of Slaughter and May, described the firm’s step into the weird world of AI as “an exciting development”. He continued:

We are constantly on the lookout for innovative ways to optimise our offering for the benefit of our clients.

And Slaughters isn’t alone. Fellow magic circle players Clifford Chance and Linklaters have also signed similar deals.

Earlier this summer Clifford Chance unveiled it was teaming up with Canadian software provider Kira Systems. According to the Wharf-based outfit, the tech will not only help its lawyers quickly analyse contracts, but it can identify potential legal issues and improve all round efficiency. DLA Piper also signed up to Kira back in June.

Meanwhile Linklaters has punted for a similar system called RAVN. Produced in London, the online service will, according to the firm, undertake a number of automated tasks.