Trainee says Linklaters should teach lawyers how to code, Linklaters now teaching lawyers how to code

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By Thomas Connelly on

Magic circle outfit pilots scheme that will see its top legal minds become more tech savvy


Global law firm Linklaters is encouraging its lawyers to learn how to create computer code thanks to one forward-thinking trainee.

The firm — keen to embrace the latest technological advances — has revealed a new “pilot programme” which teaches its lawyers “the basics of coding”. Having been approached by a plucky trainee, Linklaters’ top brass decided to green light the initiative, allowing some of the firm’s top legal minds to get their geek on.

For those of you who have visions of Linklaters’ lawyers in Matrix-style leather jackets as green code flies across the computer screen, allow Legal Cheek to explain.

Coding in a legal context essentially means creating a computer system that can identify and classify documents. In theory this means a lawyer could create a code to sift through large volumes of legal documentation, flagging up which ones are important or relevant to a particular case. Speaking to Legal Business, Paul Lewis, a partner at Linklaters, said:

We see coding as very useful for lawyers who are involved in technologies such as blockchain, smart contracts and AI. But, at an even more basic level, it’s also just useful for lawyers to have a grounding in computational logic — it complements all sorts of traditional legal skills

The new programme is just one of a number of new technology-embracing initiatives trumpeted by Linklaters.

Earlier this summer the firm — which offers around 110 training contracts annually — revealed it had put pen to paper on a deal that would see it team up with London-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) service provider RAVN. At the time, a spokesperson for the firm 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.

A host of other firms have brought similar systems on board in an attempt to lighten the load for their junior lawyers. Fellow magic circle player Slaughter and May opted for a robot called Luminance, which, according to its creators, can understand hundreds of pages of complex legal documentation every minute. Meanwhile Clifford Chance’s Kira can help its lawyers quickly analyse contracts and identify potential legal issues.

With AI tech so heavily reliant on coding, it’s clear to see why Linklaters wants its lawyers to have, at the very least, a basic understanding of how it all works.