AI is crucial for attracting and retaining young talent, say top UK lawyers


The adoption of artificial intelligence technologies is critical for ensuring the legal profession continues to attract and retain the best young talent, say top lawyers from leading law firms Slaughter and May, Dentons and Burness Paull.

While speaking at a webinar hosted by Luminance, the flagship AI company that is transforming the way lawyers work, Jan Smit, Knowledge and Innovation Manager at ‘Magic Circle’ law firm Slaughter & May, discussed the growing expectations among young lawyers for technology that assists them in their jobs, for instance by reducing the time spent wading through near-identical documents labelling key information and instead enabling them to spend more time on fulfilling work such as analysis and advice. Because of this, young lawyers are increasingly lobbying their firms about technology adoption plans in order to foster a better work-life balance.

“The younger generation expect technology to be in a law firm. For us, it is very important that we have the best legal technology to make sure we attract the best talent and ensure we have it available for the younger generation joining the firm,” said Jan Smit. Using powerful machine learning, Luminance is able to immediately identify key clauses, datapoints and anomalies, becoming increasingly bespoke with continuing use. Jan continues, “Using Luminance, you can do the job quicker and you can focus on something that actually matters to you. It saves you so much time and it actually contributes to that work-life balance, so you don't have to struggle until late at night.”

Tanja Podinic, Assistant General Counsel at the world’s largest law firm, Dentons, was in agreement as she spoke on a panel at this year’s virtual LegalWeek conference. She pointed towards a trend of increasingly ‘tech-savvy’ incoming trainees and junior lawyers expecting a certain level of technology adoption as standard. She said: “We are being asked by junior lawyers ‘what technology are you using?’, ‘will we will be exposed to it?’, ‘how often will we be using it? We need to make sure that we are adopting technology like Luminance because the upcoming generation are expecting it”.

There was also a consensus among the lawyers that these advanced technologies are becoming increasingly commonplace and necessary in an industry threatened by burnout and demanding working hours, with Jan Smit commenting: “If you don’t want to use technology then you will be left behind because at some point, everyone will be using it and you will be the exception.” 

Sam Moore, Innovation Manager at leading Scottish firm Burness Paull, concurred and expressed how firms that fail to adopt technology risk burnout within their teams and will ultimately fall behind: “I think we will see a lot of law firms fail. A lot of firms relied on their staff putting in all the hours and working beyond their 40 hour week, but many people don’t have time for this anymore because they have other responsibilities.”

“Technology like ours is no longer a nice-to-have for law firms who want to continue hiring the best and brightest graduates, many of whom are increasingly driven to do purposeful work and have grown up with technology at their fingertips,” added Eleanor Weaver, Luminance’s General Manager. “When some partners began their careers, the number of documents to review in a transaction was more reasonable, but the explosion of corporate documentation has meant that legal teams are now faced with reviewing thousands of documents in impossible timeframes. Expecting junior lawyers to manually read these volumes of near-identical contracts is unrealistic and a waste of valuable resource.”

Luminance is a leading AI platform for lawyers, used by over 300 law firms and organisations in more than 50 countries. The technology uniquely combines supervised and unsupervised machine learning to read and form an understanding of legal documents, allowing firms to perform rapid and effective document reviews across practice areas such as M&A due diligence, regulatory compliance, property portfolio analysis and eDiscovery. The company has received a Queen’s Award for Innovation and has been recognised as a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum.

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Luminance is the leading artificial intelligence platform for the legal profession. The fundamental technology behind Luminance is the Legal Inference Transformation Engine (LITE), built from a blend of unsupervised and supervised machine learning and pattern recognition techniques developed at the University of Cambridge. Luminance has over 300 customers across the world, including one-fifth of the global 100 law firms all of the Big Four Accountancy firms.