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Herbert Smith Freehills CEO Mark Rigotti on how artificial intelligence will change law firms

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“It’s about delivery to our clients and not about the tech”

Speaking ahead of the latest Legal Cheek Live commercial awareness session on Thursday, Herbert Smith Freehills’ (HSF) CEO Mark Rigotti has given an insight into his firm’s vision of how artificial intelligence (AI) will change the legal market.

Already, HSF is trialling the new technology on due diligence, discovery, document automation and risk analysis. Rigotti sees it as a way to improve customer service and work collaboratively with our clients to deliver solutions to their issues.

For now, legal AI remains in its infancy, but Rigotti expects much wider adoption among elite law firms within three to five years, he explains in the video below. This will lead to some “recalibrating” of the law firm model, he notes.

Expected to emerge are smaller teams focusing on higher value work, which are supported to a greater extent by technologists. Junior corporate lawyers seem likely to be freed up from many of the admin tasks they do today. As HSF’s recent report on legal AI states:

“Expectations are that going forward junior lawyers will have more time with senior lawyers to enhance their development and do more of the intellectual brain-work on a matter.”

At the same time, new career paths look set to emerge that blend legal skills, tech and business savvy. Sector expertise will surely become increasingly important as clients ask more of their legal advisers.

The firm’s main view is that technology, coupled with other pressures, will do three things:

1. Recast the relationship dynamic: AI tools will enable enhanced engagement towards a more collaborative relationship model between firm and client.

2. Create new business models: There will be a greater focus on output or value contributed. Technology will be crucial for underpinning this solution-provision model. Rather than technology replacing lawyers, it can make them more productive.

3. Reshape the talent pool: Rightly HSF’s clients expect that their legal providers should leverage new technologies yet still deliver the brightest human talent.

Rigotti’s colleague, Simon Rhodes, who leads HSF’s knowledge and learning team, will be joining several of the firm’s trainees and junior lawyers to discuss the impact of AI at Legal Cheek Live at HSF on Thursday 16 November.

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