Quote of the Week
“AI will not be replacing lawyers, but lawyers that don’t work with AI will be replaced.” (Andrew Arruda, Co-founder of ROSS Intelligence)
Highlights from the AI Legal Challenge Held in Toronto
On March 23, six finalists in the AI Legal Challenge (organized by The Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University and supported by Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General) made their final pitches to an impressive panel of judges. The event was extremely well attended, which was not surprising given that Toronto has one of the most developed legal tech ecosystems in the world.
Evichat, a tool for lawyers to collect, review and redact text messages and instant messenger evidence took home first prize (and $40,000). Diligen, a robust contract review platform, was the second place finisher (and the winner of $25,000). The AI Legal Challenge was a fitting end to my secondment at Diligen. It was a pleasure getting to know all six finalists during my time at the Legal Innovation Zone over the past month, and the AI Legal Challenge was a reminder of how much talent there is in Toronto in the legal tech space.
Aird & Berlis has been using Diligen for over a year and is conducting pilots on other finalists. Click here for more details about the event.
Articles to Read
The Threat of the Big Four
Beware of the Big Four (Canadian Lawyer Magazine Cover Story), Tim Wilbur
Accounting for Legal Work, Jim Middlemiss
“But the focus on bespoke work from the top talent in the legal field may be missing the point. While these lawyers are correct that “bet-the-company” work is not the area in which accounting firms are initially going to compete, the “run-the-company” work is, as Jordan Furlong has argued. And once you start to run the company, all bets are off. It is not just about personnel but about processes, products and systems. And that is where the accounting firms excel.”
Why it Matters:
As Cornelius Grossmann, global law leader at EY notes, “Canada is a big market and we still have a small practice there.” As Big Four accounting firms begin their expansion beyond tax, insolvency and immigration, law firms can expect to have new competition for work (especially in M&A and the tax work typically left to law firms). Will the strong global brands, deep pockets and focus on technology and process pose a serious threat to big law firms in Canada? Only time will tell, although this is clearly a threat not to be overlooked.
In-House Lawyers – You Aren’t off the Hook!
“The legal sector is going through its own version of the industrial revolution, 250 years after the fact,” said Kent Zimmermann, a Chicago-based consultant with the Zeughauser Group. “This development is evidence of an ongoing trend; led by clients, the market is forcing a more efficient allocation of resources to get legal work done.”
Why it Matters:
While the Big Four may take work that corporate departments outsource to external counsel, the risk of that work never making it to external counsel should not be overlooked.
In late March, UnitedLex (a legal services company) announced a multi-year deal with General Electric (GE) that is expected to reduce GE’s legal spend by 30%. How? By deploying UnitedLex technologies and business processes to serve GE around the world in several areas, including litigation, investigations, eDiscovery, forensics, and document review. While in-house lawyers will face changes to their work environment, this also isn’t great news for GE’s external counsel, who can expect much less work to be outsourced. The legal reformation is upon us.
This isn’t the first big UnitedLex deal. In late 2017, UnitedLex inked a 5-year deal with a Fortune 200 company to provide over 250 professionals to support their legal operations.
We can expect additional transactions to be announced in the coming months, as UnitedLex pursues its path to “render traditional models obsolete.”