Eversheds Sutherland signs deal with Slaughter and May-backed artificial intelligence software

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Luminance was developed by Cambridge boffins

Eversheds Sutherland has become the latest law firm to sign a deal that will see it use artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

Based on research and development by boffins at the University of Cambridge, Luminance is a sophisticated AI system designed to “think like a lawyer”. It can read (and understand) legal documents just like a human, only more efficiently, according to its creators.

Luminance will compliment Eversheds’ existing document review techniques and help bring greater efficiency, responsiveness and accuracy. This will, the firm says, free up its top legal minds to focus on more complex work.

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On the partnership, Eversheds Sutherland CEO, Lee Ranson, said:

“We are constantly looking at ways to use new technology for the benefit of our clients, and add real value across the legal practice. Using AI solutions allows us to work with our clients as their business partners, delivering what really matters to them: quality, strategic legal advice, combined with greater efficiencies.”

Eversheds isn’t the first firm to use Luminance’s tech.

In 2016, elite magic circle player Slaughter and May signed a similar deal with US business following a successful pilot, and even went on to invest in it a year later.

This latest deal comes just weeks after Facebook purchased start-up and former Allen & Overy tech incubator resident Bloomsbury AI. Coughing up a cool £26 million, the social media giant hopes to use the company’s AI platform to help tackle the rise of fake news.

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“It can read (and understand) legal documents just like a human, only more efficiently, according to its creators.”

The operative phrase being “according to its creators”.

Computers are good with numbers, much less so with words.


Techie at MC

Its called natural language processing. Google it.



Natural language processing does not allow an AI to understand a document like a human, it enables it to categorise words, phrases or documents based on pre-set rules of the type of phrases or words that might be found in ordinary speech or documents. If I could understand documents like a human it should be able to process a file and decide if someone’s children should be put into care or if someone should go to prison but it can’t because it can’t use subjective judgement or cope with the myriad nuances that lawyers face everyday.






Well yeah, that’s why it’s being used as an aid, not a replacement.



‘a sophisticated AI system designed to “think like a lawyer”.’

Judging by the comments posted on here, Luminance will therefore have a very high opinion of itself, belittle anyone who did not attend a russell group university and chuckle every time it proof reads the word ‘moist’



“thinks like a lawyer”



We recently met with 3 AI providers. We set them a very simple term finding exercise of a template contract. One AI found 10 references to the term. Another found 3. The final AI found none. There were 43 instances of the term throughout the contract. CTRL+F found them all.

In short, our jobs are safe. Artificial Intelligence is not intelligent in any way.


David Samuel

Yes, but in order for CTRL F to find all 43 instances, the syntax must be identical. The real value of the AI is it’s ability to locate a change-of-control clause that is not identified as a change-of-control clause. Without the AI, it takes a human to make those distinctions. And in order for the human to do that kind of review, it takes an order of magnitude more in time. As our contracts become increasingly complex, it is that subtlety that makes the big difference.

AI is here for real. And it is undeniably making an impact. Our clients understand this, and that is why we’re beginning to see specifically stated requirements for AI in their instructions to our Firm.



The ability for a programme to be used to identify key words and phrases in a document has been around for years, this is not AI this is a half decent document review platform. All it does is use its programming and OCR pick out pre-set words and phrases, it does not understand the document like a human and even the programming of the search terms requires human input.



That’s all fair and well, but when your AI cannot even find identical syntax, it is bleeding obvious that there is a long way to go. We would love to be able to use an AI to sweep through our contracts but that day if still far off.

I do not dispute that AI is real or here to stay, I’m saying it’s next to useless at present and completely unintelligent.


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