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Herbert Smith Freehills trainees reveal how they are engaging with lawtech

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As firm’s director of knowledge and learning emphasises importance of client facing skills

Two trainees at Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) have given an insight into how they are using technology to work more efficiently.

Speaking at Legal Cheek’s recent ‘How artificial intelligence will change law firms’ event — held at HSF’s City of London headquarters — Adam Goddard and Riina Luha cut through the tech hype to reveal how new software is being used on the frontline of legal practice.

University of Cambridge law graduate Goddard explained the workings of a new document automation tool that enables first drafts of various corporate contracts to be generated automatically with comparatively little human input. Previously, he told the audience, “junior lawyers/trainees would have to go through the model form, and drag and drop certain provisions in, delete provisions out which aren’t appropriate”. But now, for example, “all you need to do is click that this is going to be an English law-governed document, [or that] there’s going to be an arbitration clause, and the computer by itself … eliminat[es] clauses which it doesn’t need to include in the contract and put[s] specific ones in”.

HSF trainee Adam Goddard on the AI software that he has been using during the corporate seat of his training contract

How artificial intelligence is changing law firms: a trainee's…

Herbert Smith Freehills trainee solicitor Adam Goddard tells a #legalcheeklive audience about the AI software that he has been using during his training contract

Posted by Legal Cheek on Monday, November 27, 2017

Commenting on the impact of AI at HSF was Luha, an Oxford law graduate in her first seat at HSF. She charted the process of using machine learning-facilitated ediscovery on large cases.

If carried out by trainees, the disclosure process in disputes, involving up to tens of millions of documents, is very time-consuming and costly, Luha explained, continuing: “So instead of using manpower, you can actually agree with the other side on machine learning to base its processes on a representative sample.” The human input takes place at the beginning of that process in putting together the sample.

HSF trainee Riina Luha on the machine learning software that she has been using during her training contract

How machine learning works in litigation

Herbert Smith Freehills trainee Riina Luha tells a #legalcheeklive audience about the machine learning software that she has been using during the litigation seat of her training contract

Posted by Legal Cheek on Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Leading the panel, and providing a big picture perspective, was HSF’s director of knowledge and learning, Simon Rhodes.

Find out more about training at Herbert Smith Freehills

He is keenly aware of the large amounts of data in law firms’ possession — and the potential to use technology to derive information from it that may be of value not only to the organisation itself but also to its clients. As such, he forecasts that the future of law is “going to be much more blended” with technologists, STEM graduates, and other people with data science backgrounds likely to join international law firms in greater numbers.” Such individuals will be particularly popular with firms’ big tech clients, added Rhodes, because they’ll be able to “talk their language”.

HSF director of knowledge and learning Simon Rhodes on the future of law

Herbert Smith Freehills director of knowledge and learning Sim…

The future of law is “going to be much more blended” with technologists, STEM graduates and other people with data science backgrounds likely to join law firms in greater numbers, says Herbert Smith Freehills director of knowledge and learning Simon Rhodes #legalcheeklive

Posted by Legal Cheek on Thursday, November 30, 2017

But there was agreement that traditional legal skills, alongside always important commercial acumen and the ability to get on with people, would continue to be central to big law firms’ success. “At the end of the day, we want a mixture of well-rounded people with different strengths,” concluded Rhodes.

Find out more about training at Herbert Smith Freehills.

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