How the gig economy has changed entrepreneurship

Posted on November 27th, 2016 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This is a guest post by Javier Gázquez

When it comes to business, the gig economy is nothing new. Even before the advent of the internet, short-term contracts, independent workers and brief engagements were commonplace. But it can’t be denied that the internet has opened up a whole new world of possibilities to those entrepreneurs and service providers who make their living on short-term partnerships. What’s more, with the right tools at their disposals, those working within the gig economy can now scale up and expand their business with minimal fuss.

Growing trends in the gig economy

As of 2016, it’s estimated that around a quarter of all workers in the US are engaged with the gig economy as their main source of income. By the turn of the next decade, this figure is set to more than double. In the European Union, there was a 45% increase in the number of independent workers from 2012 to 2013. These trends can’t be ignored, and as more and more individuals turn to the internet to connect with potential clients and income avenues, it’s a trend that will only continue.

It’s not just your everyday freelance who is working with the gig economy however. From content writers to link masters, ecommerce business to game developers, the internet serves as the perfect venue for engaging with and building business. For many of these individuals, the gig economy, with all its boons and drawbacks, is the norm.

A rise in low cost services are making it a lot easier for independent workers and smaller businesses to establish themselves and emerge as viable, if not thriving businesses. Many smaller start-ups begin in the home, cutting out the expense of rent on business premises, commuting costs and other extras. As high-speed internet becomes more affordable, accessible and reliable, even the smallest outfit can find itself competing with some serious competition.

Getting connected, staying in the conversation

It’s strange to think that only a few years ago, online scheduling, video conferencing and cloud storage and file sharing were something of a novelty. Nowadays, these things are commonplace, affordable and instantly accessible to everyone. These services are essential in the smooth-running of any business, whether it’s follow-up conversations with existing customers, or marketing tools to help identify new markets and leads.

The ability to instantly connect with thousands of potential clients with minimal hassle is one of the biggest changes within the gig economy. Sales tools can be utilised at relatively little cost, while maintaining strong and steady dialogues with potential audiences is easy thanks to the advent of social media and shift toward multiple devices and platforms. Even after you’ve identified and made connect with your market, social media is an indispensable asset that’s crucial in maintaining effective dialogue with your current market and clients, while strengthening your online authority and reputation.

The days when a simple stratus update or fresh blog post every few days would be enough are gone. Today’s internet entrepreneur needs to be tech savvy, fully engaged with the changes happening around them and ready to adapt to new developments to stay in the game.

Author: Javier Gázquez, writer and blogger on the subjects of marketing and entrepreneruship, published in El Mundo, the Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com and more.

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Robot Lawyer LISA – algorithmic angel for all …

Posted on November 27th, 2016 by Chrissie Lightfoot

[Monday 21st November, 2016] Today in The Times, Jonathan Ames reports on my latest venture and product – LISA the Robot Lawyer …

March of the legal bots continues …

This summer the British teenager Joshua Browder let loose on the world a lawyer robot that successfully quashed 160,000 parking fines in London and New York and today the latest machine in a suit takes automated law up a notch by offering to draft nondisclosure agreements for entrepreneurs.

Lisa – or legal intelligence support assistant – is an app that is being pitched by its developers as a move that will fill an increasing gap in the provision of legal services to small businesses, while at the same time encouraging them to seek further advice.

Developed by AI Tech Support – a joint venture between Duthie & Co, a niche corporate law firm in London, and Chrissie Lightfoot, a Leeds-based legal profession consultant – Lisa is being offered free to small businesses.

Lightfoot explained that it is initially a marketing tool to encourage entrepreneurs and innovators to take legal advice when they might otherwise be deterred by a perception of prohibitive law fees.

Lisa will draft basic NDAs for both sides in a deal, which, according to Lightfoot, would normally cost each party up to £500 if left in the hands of a traditional, breathing, flesh and blood human lawyer.

Lightfoot is adamant that Lisa is not going to consign those blood and guts practitioners to the dustbin of history. Complicated legal problems and agreements will still need the human touch, she said, adding that lawyers should not fear the new robot. Whether Lisa will put the kettle on for the senior partner remains to be seen.”

As a futurist, entrepreneur, consultant, lawyer and investor I always get asked, ‘What do you think is the next big thing in the legal world? Or ‘What is the next legal frontier?’ The answer is this. Robot lawyer’s like LISA

LISA is here to help EVERYONE; individuals, consumers, businesses of all sizes, lawyers and ultimately nations prosper.

LISA’s primary focus is to provide real access to legal services by helping to open up the latent legal buyer market globally and serve the excluded majority – those 80% of businessmen and women in the USA, 54% of all SMEs and 33% of consumers in the UK, and the ‘unknown’ marginalised number of people in other countries across the world who do not use a human lawyer because of many prohibitive reasons.

Sometimes in life, you just need a little help to get on the ladder to success in business and/or to enjoy life fully. Once you’ve taken that first step without particular barriers (such as basic legal costs involved for many of us), the chances are you could actually make it!

The launch of LISA ‘s flagship NDA AI App hopes to assist you – entrepreneurial people of many kinds all around the world – to make that first bold move.

In doing so, not only will you feel personally fulfilled and potentially prosper in financial terms, but you just might surprise yourself in making a positive contribution to your local, regional and even national economy.

So here you go. Say ‘hello’ to LISA the AI Lawyer. LISA will help you draft your very own NDA, for FREE, btw. You’re only limited by your imagination in where you could take the direction of your life and business 🙂

We at AI Tech Support Ltd, humans and machines (aka LISA), look forward to supporting you in these challenging and uncertain post Brexit times. Our promise to you is that all at AI Tech Support Ltd will remain steadfastly stubborn on vision, but flexible on our journey with you.

PS: Adam… put the kettle on 🙂

Follow LISA on twitter @RobotLawyerLISA

Curious to know more about LISA? Read all about LISA here and here.

LISA’s AI support, talent, service and products are the result of the combined AI platform of Neota Logic, the legal intelligence of Adam Duthie of Duthie & Co LLP, and the creativity, imagination, commercial knowledge, experience and vision of yours truly, Chrissie Lightfoot, CEO, AI Tech Support Ltd.

AI Tech Support Ltd is a private limited company registered in England (company no: 10245242) whose registered office and trading office is at 4 Beech Ridge, Kinsbourne Green Lane, Harpenden AL5 3NJ, United kingdom. VAT registration no: 247804686

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The next legal frontier? Isn’t it obvious? …

Posted on October 15th, 2016 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This is an edited and updated version of a two part blog written by me which was published as a two part series on the LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions portal on 6th & 13th June 2016. The blog posts (combined here) reflect an element of the content of my keynote speech I shared with delegates at the Lexis InterActionShare conference in April 2016. It is reproduced with kind permission.

At the recent LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions’ InterAction Share event in London, I shared with delegates my insight and advice in relation to the rise of smart technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), robots and machine learning in the legal ecosystem and how these technologies are being, and will be, deployed in the industry.

By addressing all of the above, it naturally led to my tackling the challenging question “what is the next legal frontier?”

It’s important to realise and understand that it is inevitable that the roles of lawyers, general counsel, marketers, business development, social media and CRM specialists etc. are going to change in light of such overwhelming technological advances.

The question that is hotly debated today is whether advanced technologies will support or replace lawyers. Well, the research speaks volumes. Note how we thought a few years ago compared to now. The answers to a recent survey in 2014/15 in relation to what law firm owners think about smart tech / AI today affecting their roles and businesses was very different compared to a handful of years ago back in 2010/11. The Altman Weil Flash Survey found that 35% of law firm leaders in the US could envision first-year associates being replaced by AI such as IBM’s Watson in the next five to ten years, with 47% predicting that fate for paralegals. Only 20% of these leaders are now sure that computers will never replace human practitioners. You can join the dots for yourself.

This is by no means a US-only phenomenon, with some firms in the UK and USA already seriously starting to make use of smart technology and AI. In the last 3 months alone here in the UK we’ve witnessed a rush of law firms revealing in legal media and mainstream press that they are deploying AI and robot automation within its business. What this means for the transiting roles of those lawyers in those firms, only time will tell.

But there’s always going to be a place for human subject matter experts (for now, anyway, maybe the next 10 years). Smart technology is not here to replace professionals yet, I say, but to make us better lawyers, or marketers etc. Smart technologies are forcing us to really use our brains and emotional intelligence. That’s a really good thing, surely?

Ideally, we need to work alongside ‘the machine’ as we’re not going to be able to halt its relentless march throughout the legal ecosystem. As a result of the AI infiltration and Armageddon, new roles for us all will evolve to the legal strategist, pricing agent-provocateur, social collaborator, social-human lawyer (i.e. the rainmaker), big data guru, intelligent e-personal assistant, iCyborg lawyer, RoboManager and so on.

Some of these roles may not even be done by lawyers. For example, smart (human) secretaries are now the bridge between lawyer and client in cultivating existing and new relationships. The AI virtual assistants available via KIM technologies will no doubt impact (support and/or replace) many roles – lawyers, General Counsels and support staff. The role of human CRM and marketing professionals will shift too – for example, intelligent relationship agent, relationship manager, the big data guru, the data artist, the data steward and such – supporting individual lawyers in tracking a contact through an individual’s entire life-cycle.

Against this backdrop, I was hugely pleased to witness Business Edge, the new business development module in Lexis InterAction, at the Share event, where I touched upon the potential impact of AI and smart technologies (such as Business Edge) on ALL job roles in law firms. They will enable support personnel (the real workers that make sure all the cogs turn properly and the boiler room remains stoked) to help fee earners (I still detest this term) manage their relationships throughout the life cycle of engagement with a contact. I have no doubt that smart technologies such as Lexis InterAction’s Business Edge capability will be a real boon to lawyers when their role in the months and years ahead will primarily be to:

  1. Interpret that the AI / Robot is right about the law; and
  2. Provide a supportive relationship to clients and General Counsel.

And the role of the ‘support worker’ will continue to be in supporting the lawyer in making the above happen extraordinarily well. In this new incarnation, law firms will not be in the business of law anymore, but in the business of supporting intelligent relationships and relationship management. Use of these kinds of technologies will enable the skill and experience of senior, associate and junior lawyers, and all support personnel to be focused on the parts that really matter – i.e. adding commercial value, finding solutions, rainmaking, interacting with prospects and clients, negotiating, persuading, advocating, doing deals, and being creative – rather than spending time on ‘mundane’ tasks, which usually account for 60-80% of time spent on any legal matter.

I am confident that LexisNexis Business Edge along with enterprise collaboration, data room software and content technologies (such as HighQ), cognitive computing, AI and machine learning technologies (such as the well reported and beginning to be well deployed technologies of IBM Watson, ROSS, KIM, RAVN, KIRA, Luminance, Neota Logic etc etc) will assist in firm growth and client loyalty as they (whether collectively or independently) help ease the pain and help support personnel market their algorithmic angels to existing and new clients as well as communicate and interact intelligently more often.

Wouldn’t it be magical if some of these technologies could combine and collaborate to automate 100% of ALL aspects of some areas of legal service? Imagine what this could mean for the law firm, lawyer, general counsel and client?

I envisage that the future of law will witness the rise of more relationship agents, (in whatever guise – human or robot) and the majority of human roles will simply be to manage / project manage / over-lord and be intelligent about relationships via ROARing (Reaching Out And Relating) supported with exisitng and emerging smart technologies such as those noted above and Business Edge. CRM systems, such as Lexis InterAction, will facilitate the valuable intelligent relationships (human and robot).

To succeed in the future of law will require every individual to be imaginative and creative in how they approach existing and new clients by using the information on client relationships intelligently – facilitated via all kinds of technology at our fingertips. It is these kinds of things that will distinguish us humans from ‘the machine’. Embracing all these forms of technological deployment will free us all up to do the thing of real value – client humanness activities. Getting clients and keeping them. The thing ‘the machine’ can’t do… yet.

So, what is the next legal frontier? Isn’t it obvious? Cultivating intelligent relationships using human wisdom and machine intelligence, together. Period. It always was. It always will be…

Chrissie Lightfoot is named in the2015 list of the ‘World’s Top Female Futuristsand author of bestseller The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How to Market, Brand and Sell You! and its sequel Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045

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The next big thing in legal: carthorse to racehorse artificial intelligence

Posted on July 8th, 2016 by Chrissie Lightfoot

As a futurist, an entrepreneur, and a lawyer, I always get asked, ‘What do you think is the next big thing in the legal world?’

I always begin my response with a catch-all reply: ‘The next big thing is anything that helps you attract and keep a client. No client equals no business. A bit of a cliché, I know. But you must constantly rethink how to do things better and be more efficient by using the latest research, thinking, and innovations.’ In 2008 I commented that the next ‘big thing’ would be the adoption of social media and social networking, providing an innovative, cost-effective, smart way to market, brand, and sell using the latest in digital technology.

Facebook’s pioneering founder Mark Zuckerberg in 2010 remarked that ‘There’s going to be an opportunity over the next five years or so to pick any industry and rethink it.’ True to form, the legal world caught on to this latest wave of ‘rethinking’ – but it took far longer than other professions and industries. It has taken more than eight years for social media to be widely adopted and truly embraced in the mainstream legal ecosystem.

Fast-forward three years. Back in 2011 I would answer with my catch-all reply and add smart technologies, such as relationship intelligent products; cognitive computing (CC); artificial intelligence (AI); and robotic automation technologies.

Leap forward another three years to 2014 and, in a nutshell, I believe the next big thing for legal is adopting a variety of fee-earning and business processes that encompass AI technologies, and which blend human talent and machine intelligence, delivering all kinds, and enabling new kinds, of legal services.

Today, in 2016, smart CC and AI technologies exist that are available to pervade every aspect of fee-earning and business processes within a law firm; including marketing, business development and customer relationship management.

Suspicions and reinventions

Not surprisingly, it has been a slow burn for these pioneering smart technologies to ‘break into’ the legal world. It still remains a huge challenge for the vast majority due to the same suspicions and cautious approach that lawyers and law firms hold towards anything that may promulgate change or cause major disruption – or they simply do not understand. Not unlike how social media and social networking was viewed with scepticism back in 2008, so too emerging intelligence – augmented and artificial – at present.

However, due to the evolution of AI and its potential impact on the legal ecosystem, Professor Richard Susskind recently warned that the legal profession has five years to reinvent itself, and Riverview Law CEO Karl Chapman has predicted that the use of AI will be mainstream in the legal profession by 2020. I too have long held the belief that the profession needs to reinvent itself, and in 2011 declared that the impact of AI and robots would be felt by 2016 or thereabouts, but certainly before 2020, and definitely not decades away, as Tony Williams predicted in the Jomati Report ‘Civilisation 2030’.

I held and hold steadfast in this view, despite ridicule and scoffing, because we, the human race, constantly surprise ourselves with our technological breakthroughs. For example, when scientists were given the green light to crack the DNA code and sequence the entire human genome, everyone (scientists, futurists, thought-leaders, etc.) predicted it would take 100 years: it only took eight(1995 to 2003). Fast-forward 13 years to 2016. On 10 May  this year Harvard University hosted a closed-door conference (in absolute secrecy – no journalists allowed) with more than 100 scientists, lawyers, and business leaders to discuss the creation of a synthetic human genome and its feasibility.

The Human Genome Project (2)’s (HGP2) aims to synthesise the full human genome from synthetic materials. I have no doubt that this project will go ahead (once all the regulatory and patent squabbles have been agreed, not unlike the 1990s) and in all likelihood it will take far less than ten years if the previous track record and history in genome achievement is to be taken into account; imagine the technology in the 1990s and compare it to what we have now, factor in the exponential development of technology, and what do we have?

From AlphaGo to AlphaLaw?

Drawing a parallel with exponential advancement in AI evolution and computing intelligence breakthroughs, and factoring in what could be deployed in the legal world, in March this year we witnessed Google’s DeepMind AlphaGo’s stunning victory over Go legend and world champion Lee Se-dol.

DeepMind (an AI system of neural networks) was acquired by Google in 2014 and uses games as a testing ground for AI algorithms that could have real-world applications. AlphaGo was imbued with the ability to learn through the human-like process of practice and study. It is not a hand-crafted program in which software engineers distil information from, for example, a human player’s head into specific rules and heuristics. AlphaGo’s founder Demis Hassabis comments that an aspect of ‘intuition’ has been introduced into the neural networks, a characteristic which distinguishes top Go players.

The same could be said about top lawyers, lawyering, and legal service provision. In a handful of years – from the introduction of chess-playing computer program Deep Blue in 1996 to AlphaGo’s self-learning in 2016 – we have reached a point where a machine proved its superiority over a world-class human being’s creativity and intuitive insights.

Despite the fact that Lee Se-dol has since beaten AlphaGo, this does not detract from the significant step forward made in machine-learning capabilities. After all, even Hassabis was surprised at the rate of progress he and his team achieved in such a short timeframe – 18 months, from inception to triumph. I cannot imagine an 18-month-old baby being able to study and learn at the same rate as AlphaGo, can you?  There is, therefore, a possibility, in theory at least, that a machine could learn through practice and study to become a world champion lawyer. And this is deeply significant.

But until such time as an AlphaLaw champion lawyer exists (which may be sooner than we all anticipate), let us deal with the reality in a legal world where:

  • Smart CC, AI, and robot technologies in relation to the four key elements of legal service provision – commoditisation, research, reasoning and judgement – exist and can support or replace many aspects of a lawyer’s job;
  • Both fee-earning processes and business processes can be supported and/or replaced by expert systems, CC, robotic-automated systems, AI, and machine learning;
  • Clients demand and expect more speedy, accurate, expert, creative, intuitive, and accessible legal advice;
  • Pressure is growing both from within law firms (or in-house teams) and from clients to respond to the demand for customer-designed services;
  • Technology-related projects that are both user and client-centric need to be implemented successfully; and
  • In the long term, everyone will be using these kinds of technologies, despite the fact that AI deployment in the legal world has a last mile problem, comments Rick Seabrook, managing director of Neota Logic, Europe.

Four aspects of legal services

As we witness the evolution of AI and its take-up in the world at large, I predict we will experience a more measured approach and gradual warming to the evolution of AI in the legal world throughout 2016, which will then lead to a tsunami deployment within a couple of years; similar to the social media warming but on synthetic, exponential steroids. There will be AlphaLaw pioneers, just like there were social media pioneers.

Due to the deployment of smart tech, CC, AI and robots in the legal ecosystem where lawyers, firms, general counsel and clients are beginning to embrace such technologies, we’re seeing that lawyering is increasingly becoming more productive, efficient, accurate, better quality, less labour intensive and time intensive and the role of the lawyer is gradually shifting and changing.

There are, at present, several key providers of smart CC, AI, and robot technologies that relate to all aspects of legal services provision, and they deal with different aspects of the lawyer’s role. If we break down a lawyer’s tasks in a legal project from beginning to end, we find there is a technology that can handle the majority of these four tasks far more quickly and accurately than a human lawyer.

CC, AI, and robots are currently (and mainly) used and being considered for use in the legal ecosystem as a carthorse; for example, e-discovery, research, business processes, basic analytics or analysis, hypothesising, etc.; where they speed up much of the mundane elements of legal work. For example:

  • Big Law American firm BakerHostetler is the first licensee of Ross, hailed as the world’s first AI lawyer and a ‘very smart artificial co-worker’, which interacts using natural language and is used for bankruptcy-related legal research matters. Ross (owned by Ross Intelligence Inc.), an AI product and service resulting from the use of Apple’s Siri slick voice capabilities and IBM Watson’s cognitive computing prowess, has been in the development and pilot stage throughout 2015 but will now be a huge boon for lawyers, law firms, and clients.
  • BLP has been using RAVN ACE (applied cognitive engine) AI technology in the UK since 2015 in its real estate department and commercial practices. Used for ‘deep research’ and processing, such as extracting specific pieces of information from large documents, the technology has been nicknamed Lonald by BLP associates, who welcome the machine as being more efficient, productive, and accurate than they could possibly be. Lonald is due to be ‘rolled-out’ in all BLP departments over the next three years in an attempt to boost efficiency and improve the morale of its lawyers.
  • The first Magic Circle firm to go public with the use of AI, Linklaters has also signed a deal with technology provider RAVN systems, the details of which remain confidential. The Financial Times also reveals the company has developed Verifi, a computer program that can sift through 14 European and UK regulatory registers to check client names for banks. The company said it could ‘process thousands of names overnight.’
  • Hot on Linklaters heels is Clifford Chance, the latest UK Magic Circle law firm to adopt the use of AI after announcing that it has entered into a partnership with software provider Kira Systems.
  • DLA Piper in mid-June announced that it has also partnered with Kira Systems to implement a global artificial intelligence tool for document review in the M&A due diligence process.
  • Riverview Law launched KIM – an AI virtual assistant in January this year – followed up in April with an AI triage of managed services technology and an AI platform; a huge advantage for general counsel and law departments in corporations, and for clients of all company sizes.
  • Pinsent Masons has developed a programme that reads and analyses clauses in loan agreements. Its TermFrame system helps guide its lawyers through transactions and points them towards the correct precedents at each stage of a process.
  • Hodge, Jones & Allen has been working with academics from University College London to create software that assesses the merits of personal injury cases since 2014/15.

All of these AI systems and computer programs handle large quantities of structured and unstructured data, and assist with the process, management, research, and reasoning elements related to legal issues.  Two years ago they were not even in play in the legal market, though they were on the horizon.

Time equals money

For entrepreneurial lawyers and law firms, CC, AI, and robots also provide the opportunity to rethink legal service offerings. For example, with RAVN’s AI technology, a law firm that has a client with tens of thousands of employment contracts across the world could offer the existing client an ‘employment contract analysis’ in relation to risk and compliance issues (for example, when there is new regulation or when the law bites). RAVN can configure a robot that will tell the law firm or client what their exposure is.

Providing this kind of legal service would have been impossible previously due to the disproportionate spend in time and cost; however, RAVN takes a routine, cognitive process (traditionally undertaken by junior lawyers labouring over a long period of time, usually months) and transforms it into an automated process, which can be completed in a matter of minutes or hours.  Consequently, something that is incredibly difficult for a human to do that a robot finds very easy could be offered as a valuable new legal service. RAVN is currently in the process of developing a whitepaper on the subject of the potential of deploying AI technologies in the legal world, which should prove highly informative and helpful to curious minds.

This has been, and is, our current and main level of understanding, thinking, application, and deployment of smart tech, CC, and AI in the legal industry. And yet, a search for ‘AI in law’ produces 105,000 results in just the news section alone of Google’s vast index. From the web as a whole, 25,900,000 results can be found, meaning there is appetite, curiosity, and interest in searching for how AI and the robots may be of use in the legal ecosystem more widely.

These technologies could, to some extent, be used in every aspect of legal service provision, not just the mundane ‘everyday’ basic legal matters of ‘doing’ but also the more lucrative area of ‘thinking’ and ‘advisory’.

Racehorse thinking

Law firms have, since the start of this year, only just begun to think of using artificial intelligence (AI) technologies as a racehorse, and not a carthorse, and have started to implement in their racehorse thinking and advisory elements unique to cognitive thinking and a human mind. Global players Taylor Wessing and Norton Rose Fulbright have each independently collaborated with software and AI developer Neota Logic in creating apps, named TW: navigate PSC App and ContractorCheck respectively.

Taylor Wessing’s app, introduced in April of this year, acts as a guide and adviser with respect to the recent changes to the Companies Act, where there is now a requirement for companies to identify and name persons of significant control in their returns to Companies House. Norton Rose Fulbright describes its app, introduced in late 2015/early 2016, as ‘an innovative tool designed to help organisations accurately characterise their people to manage risk, so that contracts truly reflect an individual’s contractor or employee status. This smart identification tool has been tailored to apply the key characterisation indicators across multiple jurisdictions.’

Both firms have rethought how they deliver specific aspects of lawyering and are beginning to focus on racehorse elements of lawyering; which are the high-end, intellectual capital, reasoning, and judgement elements usually locked away in a lawyer’s mind. Neota Logic works in collaboration with law firms, and elicits knowledge and experience from a lawyer to then ‘brain dump’ that knowledge and experience into software. Algorithms are then created which respond to the client or prospect without the need for a person. In theory it means a lawyer or law firm could serve hundreds or even thousands of clients, prospects, or queries seamlessly while they sleep – and get paid for it.

Each bespoke AI app mimics and replaces what a human lawyer does in relation to the process, reasoning and judgement element (the knowledge and experience aspect) of a lawyer’s specific area of law. For example, a lawyer will ask a series of questions to a client who will reply with their answers: throughout, the lawyer pulls on their knowledge and experience of the law and provides the client with the answers they seek. This kind of AI technology is beginning to prove popular for:

  • Online compliance;
  • Online legal assessment; and
  • Providing online advice solutions.

Using this kind of technology is also proving to be a smart way of marketing, creating, and building relationships with firms’ new and existing clients.

Inviolable lawyers

Currently, there are automated, cognitive computing (CC), and AI systems that support lawyers and which replace lawyers. Nevertheless, as machines become more intelligent and lawyers become more comfortable in deploying and working with these systems, it is inevitable that the machine will make a switch from carthorse to racehorse functionality, and will replace more and more of a human lawyer’s key roles in relation to the four elements of legal services provision (commoditisation, research, reasoning, and judgment), edging into the realm lawyers think they are immune and untouchable.

But they are neither immune nor untouchable. All areas of law, including corporate, commercial, intellectual property, employment, property, tax, bankruptcy, family, litigation, etc., will not escape the march of the machine. Premonition’s pioneering technology is testament to this in the litigious domain. Within the legal ecosystem, we will see AI evolve from CC (which demands a significant amount of data) and mimicking the human brain to iterative intelligence and design algorithms (rules-based programing and self-learning where the AI or robot learns for itself); then, eventually, artificial general intelligence will come about via the Google Brain, White House BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies), Obama brain, or DARPA AI projects – possibly in around 15 to 20 years’ time.

It is not insurmountable that we will witness a world champion AI lawyer, not unlike a world champion AI player in Go, the Chinese strategy board game, within the next few years. The rate of technological development and AI innovation is exponential. Accordingly, the likelihood is that many aspects (but not all) of lawyering as we know it now can and will be done with little human intervention within five to ten years. This prediction is in line with the global research that, within ten years, 57 per cent of blue-collar and white-collar work, globally, will be replaced by automation, AI, or robots.

So, in 2016, you have two choices: the first is to embrace the rise of smart CC, AI, and robot technologies; management may be responsible for providing the environment to facilitate change and innovation, but the responsibility to embrace change rests with each and every lawyer in our firms. The second is to ignore emerging technologies, do nothing, and get left behind.

Paper-pusher pushout

Another prediction is that massively overpaid paper-pushers will be sidelined within one to three years. If you understand that smart AI technology is not here to replace you (well, not immediately) but to make you a better lawyer that forces you to use your instinct, emotional intelligence, and capitalise on your mind, then you have made the first step in future-proofing your career and business. The brave new legal eco-system will require algorithmic angels, in which the primary lawyerly role will be:

  • To interpret that the AI or robot is correct about the law; and
  • To provide a supportive relationship to clients and general counsels.

There will only be three kinds of human worker or lawyer within the next ten years when the machines rule:

  • Those with high-end emotional intelligence and relationship skills; or
  • Those who provide support to the machine systems; or
  • Unemployed.

With exception to those firms that have already gone public in relation to the deployment of AI systems (some of which are named earlier), companies and firms already using and/or considering using these technologies in the UK and beyond include a selection of those from:

  • The Big Four accountancy firms;
  • Magic Circle firms;
  • The top 50; and
  • Those outside the top 50, i.e. those with distinct specialities that aim to use AI to win new clients and compete with the top 50. These types of private practice include real estate, immigration, pensions, and finance.

Renovating private practice

Rethinking legal services may also entail rethinking what type of business of law will be most suitable going forward. Law firm consultant George Beaton has recently released a fascinating piece of research on why ‘big law’ should start to reinvent itself due to the mix of legal service provider predicted to be in the market in ten years’ time. These types of private practice include big law; traditional or remade traditional law; new law; standalone automated legal service provider (for example, Riverview Law); and in-house general counsels. The findings predict that a staggering 50 per cent of big law and traditional firms will be ‘remade’ and will lose significant market share to the other types of businesses within the next decade.

Accordingly, my advice, as ever, is to future-proof you and your business now. It is inevitable that smart tech, AI, and robots do – and will continue – to support us positively in our current roles, but eventually they may replace lawyers entirely in carrying out particular tasks once AI exceeds human lawyerly intelligence; we’re talking a handful of months or years here, not decades. Ask yourself the following:

  • Can you afford not to be prepared for the time when ‘the machine’ evolves and inevitably does your fee earning and performs business processes quicker and more accurately, more creatively and smarter than you? and
  • Can you afford not to embrace the machine, when your existing and new competitors are already using it, or about to? and
  • Can you afford not to deploy CC and AI technologies when your existing and new clients are beginning to expect some form of these systems as part of a legal service offering?

If you ask me today what I believe the next ‘big thing’ in legal is going to be, my reply is as follows.

My human brain is available for hire now on a one-to-one basis, but in the near future – say, five to ten years – everyone on the planet (potentially seven billion people; nine billion by 2050) and Mars and beyond will be able to help themselves to it (for an adjusted, volume-based, significantly reduced fee, or in some instances free of charge where I see the value in creating goodwill and building a client base for another premium service) in the form of an AI app and available online (omnipresent 24 hours a day, seven days per week, 365 days a year) via an AI platform in the cloud.

I am not complacent about what my role will be in the ensuing months and years. Nor should you be. Do not assume that smart technology, AI, and the robots will not be able to do significant elements of your job, even the complex stuff. Prepare for the possibility that they could and most likely will.

This is a revised version of a cover feature article written by me which was published as a two part cover series in Solicitors Journal 31st May and 7th June 2016.

Chrissie Lightfoot is named in the 2015 list of the ‘World’s Top Female Futuristsand author of bestseller The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How to Market, Brand and Sell You! and its sequel Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045

@TheNakedLawyer

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Lack of AI deployment in legal, I say

Posted on January 5th, 2016 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This article was published by Ark Group 4 January 2016 titled ‘Interview: Chrissie Lightfoot’ and is reproduced with kind permission. I was delighted to be interviewed and share some of my thoughts about AI (or lack of it) in the legal eco-system in advance of speaking at Ark’s Legal IT conference in London, UK, very soon !

Chrissie Lightfoot – named in the 2015 list of the ‘World’s Top Female Futurists‘ & LinkedIn as the No.1 best-connected & most engaged woman in the legal industry”.

An inspirational woman entrepreneur, a solicitor (non -practising), consultant and regular international Keynote speaker, Chrissie Lighfoot is participating in the panel discussion Leveraging digital data growth with artificial intelligence( AI) in legal services at ARK’s  Legal IT  conference on 28 January.

Ahead of the conference we sent some questions her way to discuss AI in legal services, how firms can be doing more and what to expect from the panel discussion.

You are speaking on our panel discussion Leveraging digital data growth with artificial intelligence (AI) in legal services. Do you think law firms are doing enough with regards to this topic?

Unfortunately, no. Nowhere near enough. It’s reminiscent of the slow take up by lawyers and law firms of online social networking and social media, a game-changer for supporting lawyers and law firms in marketing and sales yet it was viewed with suspicion and a “let’s wait and see attitude”.

AI has the potential to be a real boon for the legal-ecosystem in a very positive way. It will help improve the quality of lawyering with regard to accuracy, advice, time savings and cost savings for lawyers and firms.

With the exception of a tiny handful of law firms here in the UK and abroad that have begun to grasp the benefits that AI brings to the legal field, the vast majority remain tinkering around the edges with ‘should we embrace this new technology’. Once they’ve broken down that barrier, considering ‘how to deploy it in our current business model to increase efficiency and productivity’ is the next hurdle, and one that many haven’t figured out yet.

Many are not even in the mindset of having a technology enabled legal service let alone being a technology led legal provider, like Riverview Law.

How do you think smaller firms can embrace AI and cognitive computing?

The challenge for small firms is to consider current AI system options (such as Kira, Ravn, IBM Watson, Neota logic) for the purpose to suit their business models and realise that the cost does not need to be beyond their reach. They can embrace AI and cognitive computing by simply beginning the conversations with the providers and understanding what exactly is possible from solo lawyer to international behemoth. All of these AI systems handle large (and smaller) quantities of structured and unstructured data, and can assist with advocacy and advisory related legal issues.

Your book Tomorrows Naked Lawyer discusses the impact AI is currently having on the law. In your experience, what percentage of firms are starting to take AI seriously?

0.0000001 %. Facta non verba. Action not talk is required. Currently there is a lot of talk, but a miniscule amount of action and actual take-up / real deployment. Shocking. But not at all surprising. Lawyers are behaving as they always have. Very slow to change and adapt. Unfortunately, for those that don’t embrace AI soon they won’t have anything to advise or talk about!

What do you think is the biggest challenge AI will present the legal industry with?

The biggest challenge AI will present the legal industry with is how will providers use this new technology to create new opportunities. The opportunity and challenge will be to create something new in legal with this kind of game-changing technology.

Providers of legal services will be challenged to think of new ways to be of service, to produce, to be different, to be truly innovative in using AI systems across the entire spectrum of fee-earner processes and business processes.

For example, Riverview Law with its AI virtual assistant KIM (Knowledge, Intelligence, Meaning), which effectively delivers ‘automation on demand’.

What can people expect from the panel discussion at Legal IT?

It will be educational, informative, enlightening, consultative, advisory and provocative!

—————————————————————————————————————————
Chrissie Lightfoot is part of a stellar line-up of must-see speakers from ARK’s independently researched programme.

Join the SRA, Addleshaw Goddard, Dentons US and more to get ideas, inspiration and insight to rise to the challenge of emerging technology in your firm.

Book your place now

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New Laws for the Age of Robot Companions?

Posted on December 29th, 2015 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This article (authored by me) was first published in LegalIt Today 12 December 2015, and is reproduced with kind permission.

In the second of two articles for Legal IT Today, Chrissie Lightfoot asks how the law will deal with the rise of human-robot companionship, relationships, sex and love.

In the first part of this article (called  It’s time to rewrite the book of law for the digital age ), published in the previous issue of LegalIt Today, I asked what laws would be required to cater for the proliferation of machine intelligence, cognitive computing, artificial intelligence and robots. In this issue, I ask what laws will be required as relationships and even marriage between people and robots start to become increasingly commonplace.

Law in the robotic age

Prostitution is known as ‘the world’s oldest profession’. In order to gain some insight as to why people will be prepared to hire the services of robots for sex (malebots and fembots) and even contemplate marriage with them, I attended a futures conference in early 2014. Here I met David Levy, an artificial intelligence (AI) researcher and the author of a thesis titled Robot Prostitutes as Alternatives to Human Sex Workers 1.

David argues that the arrival of sexbots seems imminent when we consider recent trends in the development of humanoids, sex dolls and sex machines of various types. I agree. But where will all this sit with the law?

Robot hooker

With regard to sex dolls, Japan and Korea lead the way. Upmarket sex dolls, for example, have been seen as a possible way around Korea’s Special Law on Prostitution. Hotels in the country started to hire out ‘doll experience rooms’. These hotels assumed that there was no question of them breaking the law, as their dolls were not human. Since sex acts were occurring with a doll and not a human being, the Special Law on Prostitution did not apply.

With sex dolls becoming increasingly ‘human’ in appearance, touch and able to relate (comprising AI, meaning the sex doll / robot converses and expresses emotion), it is highly likely that sex entrepreneurs will infiltrate the global ‘sex for hire’ community swiftly. The robot sex for hire money-go-round will be too lucrative to pass up.

How will this affect the UK, US, Japan, Korea and other countries? We will have to address our existing laws on prostitution (and porn), particularly when robots become so sophisticated that we will indeed be questioning what it means to be ‘human’ and the ethics and morals surrounding this.

Attitudes and behaviour with regard to relationships, love, sex, sexual exploits and sexual union have changed through the ages in relation to age, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. For example, homosexuality, until very recently, was a taboo subject and societies throughout the world spurned gay men and women. But attitudes have changed and the law has followed. Here in the UK, and in some other parts of the world, gay marriage is now lawful. I dare say that if you had read in the 1980s or 90s (30 or 20 years ago) that the UK Parliament would pass the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and the US would enact a similar law, you would have scoffed and mocked. But here we are in 2015 and so it is.

Robot marriage

We currently live in a world where:

  • In divorce proceedings, the parties argue over who gets full custody of the pet;
  • A bridegroom chooses a dog as his best man;
  • There are websites where you can ‘marry’ your dogs;
  • Our children adore virtual pets, such as the Tamagotchi;
  • Sex dolls are available for hire;
  • A man says (in real life): ‘I’ve tried having girlfriends but I prefer my relationship with my computer’;
  • Men marry their computer game characters/sex-dolls; and • Gay marriage is lawful.

Human-robot relationships are surely indicative of the way human love, relationships, sex and marriage are evolving. I share more of my ideas and predictions in my latest book, Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045, along with my belief that it is likely that some societies will accept love, sex and even marriage with robots within 20 years. Matrimonial law and family law will need to evolve accordingly.

If you’re thinking my ideas are outrageous, think again. Since writing that book in early 2014 and publication later that year, my predictions and insights have been picked up in the mainstream press, media and popular culture, and the topic has, thankfully, begun to be debated – at least in the public domain, if not in the ivory towers of law.

Robot wife

While there have been fictional accounts of human-robot relationships, sex and love recently in popular culture – for example the TV drama series Humans and the movies Her and Ex Machina – there have also been real-life accounts, some of which include marriage.

There are, for example, men who already claim to love and/or desire to be married to their robot; see synthetic love and technosexual. Back in November 2009, a Japanese man stood before a congregation to marry the ‘woman’ he loved, Nene Anegasaki. Nene is a computer game character, a ‘virtual girlfriend’ in the Nintendo DS game Love Plus which he ‘brought to life’ as a sex doll. In doing so, he arguably became the first man to marry his robot.

It is inevitable that the rise of humanrobot companionship, relationships, sex and love will lead people to call for the right to marry their robot, forcing lawmakers to consider expanding marital rights and lawyers to deal with the disruption and problems that will inevitably ensue.

Is it too far fetched to claim that 20/30 years from now we could be reading that the Robot Partnership Act 2035/45 has become law?

Law in the interstellar age

Such is mankind’s curiosity, thirst for knowledge and spirit of adventure that a Dutch company announced early in 2014 that it requires 20 healthy adults to train for eight years to be the first group of human beings to colonise Mars by 2023. This being the case, I highly recommend that one of these 20 souls should be a legal anthropologist. If we have a blank sheet, and we contemplate law and order on a new planet, how would we begin all over again? I suggest: ‘From martial law to Martian law… but not back again.’ 2

Someone told me recently: ‘I admire how you handle the tension between technology’s promise and its peril.’ And I guess this statement sums up what lies ahead for those valiant colonists, for us entrepreneurs / business people, lawyers and the law-makers writing the ‘letter of the law’ at the dawn of the digital, robotic and interstellar ages. Ask yourself:

  • How are you going to combine ‘pure blood’ human workers and robot workers in your business? What employment law issues are likely to cause concern?
  • Is the law already fit for purpose to support and/or protect your commercial interests and working environment as robots permeate your business? If not, what do we need to do about it?
  • How do you reconcile porn and/or prostitution and/or robot sex workers related to the workplace, and business ethics as humanoid robots enter the working environment?
  • Are you ready not only to think about all this, but also to do something about it?

One thing is certain, we require what I call ‘NewLaw’ in this digital age, looming robotic age and inevitable interstellar age to cater for the robot worker. To bring law and order in an attempt to avoid imminent chaos, we must act now.

Chrissie Lightfoot (legal futurist, speaker, consultant and writer) – the entrepreneur lawyer – is named in the 2015 list of the ‘World’s Top Female Futurists’, and LinkedIn as theNo.1 best-connected and most engaged woman in the legal sector’. She is the author of bestseller “The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How to Market, Brand and Sell You!” and its sequel “Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045.” You can pick up her latest book today by emailing publishing@ark-group.com

1 Levy, D, Robot Prostitutes as Alternatives to Human Sex Workers, white paper, London, 2006. Accompanying material includes: Levy, D, Marriage and Sex With Robots, EURON Workshop on Roboethics, Genoa, March 2006; Levy, D, Emotional Relationships With Robotic Companions, EURON Workshop on Roboethics, Genoa, March 2006; and Levy, D, A History of Machines With Sexual Functions: Past, Present and Robot, EURON Workshop on Roboethics, Genoa, March 2006; Levy, D, Love and Sex With Robots, Harper Collins, New York, 2007.

2 Lightfoot, C, Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045, Ark Group, London 2014.

Part 1 of this article can be found here: LegalIt Today (28 Sep 2015)

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The Golden Age of Naked Creativity

Posted on November 22nd, 2015 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This article was first published in The Rouse 19th Nov 2015, republished by Thomson Reuters Legal Current 20th Nov 2015 and is reproduced here with kind permission of both:

We have the privilege of living in the most amazing Golden Age. Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic engineering have bolted from the R&D labs and been embraced in a multitude of fields, industries and services bringing both promise and peril to society, consumers and workers.

Progressing at an exponential rate it is inevitable that AI and robotics will radically transform all of our lives – home, family, love and work. There have been a plethora of reports, articles and new stories this year mooting the positive and negative impact of the imminent ‘rise of the machine’. It is inevitable that the relentless march of AI and robotics will push the boundaries of what it means to be human, social and an employee in the months and years ahead once AI, avatars, icyborgs and robots infiltrate our homes and impact our working lives even more so.

Understandably, therefore, we are already witnessing the beginning of the debate in relation to the tension which is emerging with regard to the liberalisation and exploitation of AI and robots in society and impacting our blue-collar and white-collar jobs. The people and companies that succeed in the near future will be those that take the time now to assess the role of advanced technology in their working lives and service delivery model.

So it’s time to stop talking about the implications of AI and the potential impact of robots in society and our working lives, and start providing answers and solutions in how we can embrace the inevitable and still be successful.

Currently ‘the machine’ excels in speedy processing, researching, analysing, hypothesising, dealing with logic and delivering super intelligence. Contrast this with us humans who excel in the realm of reasoning, judgement, instinct, emotional intelligence, ‘humanness’ and creativity. Until such time as the machine can be as truly creative as us humans, we have a window of opportunity to dance in this space. Being creative will differentiate us from the machines… at least for a little while.

Accordingly we need to embrace this Golden Age of ‘Naked Creativity’, I reckon. Being creative and ‘naked’ (our UNIQUE authentic selves) will go some way in future-proofing our careers and/or businesses and relationships in the decade or two ahead. What employers regarded as top talent in the past is not the kind of talent required or expected currently or in future, particularly when the boss will be employing machines to do the process and high IQ related work further down the line.

Focussing on developing our emotional intelligence and becoming entrepreneurial, intrapreneurial, innovative, creative, imaginative and dynamic in our working lives could certainly help us retain our jobs before we are eventually replaced; let us not forget that ‘the machine’ is already learning to be creative; it can compose music symphonies, write stories, news content, play a musical instrument etc already.

In an increasingly competitive and AI Age we need to be creative about who, what, where, when, why and how we provide services and products as individuals and businesses.

So, how can we humans future-proof our livelihoods and companies prepare for the age of AI and robotics?

Albeit it has been said that creativity charts its own course, it still needs a compass.

Steps which can be taken today as an individual include:

And steps which can be taken as a business include:

  • being creative in your use of technology, people, business planning, strategy, marketing and branding (business and personal and product);
  • being creative in your financing, investment and billing (however, when you’re billing your client for lingerie, expect a visit from a legal bill auditor);
  • understanding the personality and psychology of creative people;
  • embracing the new breed of digital consumer/customer/client;
  • embracing the talent mix blend of the machine and human; the role that technology and AI can play positively and each human in your workplace;
  • being smarter about business relationships, marketing, business development, communication and being social;
  • watching and learning from new AI and robotics market entrants;
  • creating competitive new business offshoots;
  • being creative about how you buy legal services; and
  • consider settling litigious matters creatively

Settling legal problems creatively? Is that not an enigma?

Actually, no. It has been said that lawyers make terrible entrepreneurs but there are exceptions. I consider myself and many others to be such exceptions.

For example, solicitor Gary Assim (The Image Lawyer), solicitor Brian Inkster, solicitor Steve Kuncewicz, and barrister Sinead King (The Entrepreneur Advocate).

Sinead is one of those rare barristers who stands in the shoes of her technology, media and creative industries clients and consistently looks for ingenious ways to represent her clients and come up with an inspired solution to their legal problem. In her own words:

“I think lawyers tend to shy away from the label “creative” because of its connotations of bringing something truly original into the world. It’s my clients who are bringing new things into the world, but it’s my job to understand their vision in order to translate their ambitions into a legally sound reality. Often legal problems arise because the players have a blind spot or two, and haven’t necessarily had the time to consider a situation in all its dimensions – human and legal, big picture and small. Legal creativity is having the flexibility to shift between perspectives in order to craft a solution that protects my clients’ freedom to grow. I don’t have the imagination to innovate on the scale of my clients and many of them would be appalled at the idea of arguing over large sums of money for a living but together we make a very effective team.”

If lawyers, perceived as the least entrepreneurial and creative of all professions and workers can be creative, surely you can too.

It takes courage to be creative, to dare to be different, to think and act outside the herd. It’s much easier and safer to stick with the pack. But the dawn of the Golden Age of Naked Creativity is upon us. You can prepare or watch from the step outside reception whilst the robots march by: it’s your choice.

Chrissie Lightfoot – the entrepreneur lawyer – is named in the 2015 list of the ‘World’s Top Female Futurists’, and LinkedIn as theNo.1 best-connected and most engaged woman in the legal sector’. She is the author of bestseller “The Naked Lawyer” and its sequel “Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045.” You can pick up her latest book today by emailing publishing@ark-group.com

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Come the AI legal armageddon, what’s in it for me?

Posted on October 28th, 2015 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This article was first published in Legal IT Professionals 26 October 2015 and is reproduced with kind permission.

The world is experiencing an explosion in tech start-ups that are jumping on the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution bandwagon to serve the hunger of established markets and new markets. You only have to follow the plethora of tweets on the subject of #Fintech and #LegalIT (aka #lawtech) to realise that certain sectors are enjoying exponential promise, opportunity and growth. The legal ecosystem is potentially one of these.

I am pleased to witness the current deployment of the potential, promise and peril of cognitive computing, AI and robots in the legal world. It’s been too long in arriving. 

Albeit some businesses of law have innovated in many ways this past decade since the passing of LSA2006, such as reinventing old business models, creating new business models, adopting smart digital strategies, making the switch from legacy IT systems to cloud based, and the efficient use of office space etc etc, it’s only now, in 2015 that a significant game-changer is afoot. Enter stage right – Robot Lawyer. Exit stage left – junior human lawyer.

Currently we have IBM Watson cognitive computing and AI technology already deployed in the legal market in the UK and USA. Riverview Law is using IBM Watson technology to serve blue-chip clients needing to research, manage and analyse large quantities of contracts.

Similarly Dentons is working with Ross Intelligence Inc and its “AI lawyer” dubbed ROSS – haled as the world’s first AI Lawyer – mainly for bankruptcy related legal research matters. Albeit not quite Robot Lawyer in cute metallic form, ROSS is the smart result of a deal between the company, Apple (using Siri’s slick voice capabilities) and IBM (Watson’s cognitive computing prowess) and will be a huge boon for lawyers, law firms and clients; potentially.

And we have RAVNace recently embraced by Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP)  real estate department and commercial practices for ‘deep research’ and processing (extracting specific pieces of information from large documents ) by LONALD (the name the associates gave the AI machine which is welcomed as being more efficient, productive and accurate than they can possibly be) here in the UK. LONALD is due to be “rolled-out” in all BLP departments over the next 3 years in an attempt to boost efficiency and improve the morale of its lawyers. The firm’s head of legal risk consultancy Matthew Whalley believes this is only the beginning of how law firms can use AI.

No-brainer.

Currently there are automated, cognitive computing and AI systems that a) support lawyers and b) replace lawyers in their role. As machines become more intelligent it is inevitable that the machine will move up the legal vertical and do more replacing of human lawyers than supporting. It came as no surprise when Richard Susskind said last week: “Advances in artificial intelligence will result in a steady decline in market demand for human professionals in the long term.”

Again, no-brainer.

Lawyers must wake up to the possibility and likelihood that the machine will evolve from dealing solely with commoditised and research related legal work and move into the realm of reasoning and judging too; it already can, but we’re only using this brilliant technology currently as a carthorse rather than its true calling as a thoroughbred.

It’s also inevitable that more of the Top 100 firms that have been sniffing around the AI technology suppliers will tip, eventually. They will have no choice. They too will deploy IBM Watson or RAVN or another alternative AI software tech start-up provider perhaps for commoditised and/or high end complex due diligence work or a bespoke niche offering. The AI Armageddon is only a puff away.

Currently, law firms are using advanced technologies to “deliver quantifiable productivity improvements” says Joanna Goodman, legal IT journalist. Timothy Corcoran in his Law 2023 report writes: “Technology will enable lawyers to bill for real value.” And John Alber, a fellow Futurist, is of the opinion that when we look back on this period in 20 or 30 years’ time “I expect we will agree that the most significant metric underlying the transformation of legal practice will have been the cost per unit of processing power. Not profits per partner.” 

And so, what I am interested in, as a buyer of legal services, is HOW are ROSS and LONALD and whatever robot lawyer pops up next, going to benefit me, directly?

To be candid, if the real and potential benefits of providing legal advice include speed of service and reduced cost respectively, to achieve a positive outcome, which has ultimately come about via the use of sophisticated IT /AI at some point during the legal service/problem continuum, and as a legal buyer my main concern is the right result, quality, value for money and/or price (which remains the issue in many instances), and I know lawyers and law firms can now do the work quicker, smarter and more accurately using AI and cognitive computing technology, can I therefore expect my legal fees to be reduced?  

In other words, how are you Mr(s) Lawyer, going to justify your fee when I will be asking you what is your real cost per unit of processing power? Let’s face it, if the machine is much faster and more accurate and is being used for some element of the legal work INSTEAD of a human lawyer, should I still be paying the same as I always have?

I asked Sinead King, a barrister who serves technology clients whom I met at a tech start-up seminar earlier this year, what she thought of the potential for technology, AI and robot lawyer to help her in her role and to benefit her clients. Ms King said:

“As a fixed-fee direct access barrister, I often end up spending far more time on a project than I can bill to my client – technology which increases my accuracy and decreases my hours is certainly something I’m keen to explore.  That said, the main focus of my practice tends to involve translating human interactions into legal terms which are then assessed by human judges and tribunals. Translating into and out of “human” is something technology has yet to learn to do.  I’ve no doubt it can learn:  by analogy, it used to be said that chess grand masters could never be beaten by machines – until they were.” 

Prompted further Ms King added: “I’m not sure of the degree to which machines should replace human decision making: I’m uncomfortable about the risks of King Solomon-style “justice” instead of living, breathing decision-makers willing to mitigate rough justice with “mercy” and “equity.”  Rather, I see technology as an important tool to increase accuracy, decrease time spent on routine tasks, giving me the freedom to efficiently focus on the aspects of a case which genuinely require a living expert in law and “human”.”

Come the AI legal armageddon, what’s in it for the client? If the big-players aren’t passing on their time and cost savings to the client, not a lot. But arguably, a great deal, potentially. For, as the legal buyer grows increasingly aware of all the options available in the marketplace and just like google search is becoming increasingly accurate, the client will expect lawyering to become so too, whether delivered by the human or the machine, or a blend of both. And (s)he won’t expect to pay the kind of legal fees they have in the past.

Chrissie Lightfoot is named in the 2015 list of the ‘World’s Top Female Futurists’, and LinkedIn as the No.1 best-connected and most engaged woman in the legal sector. She is the author of bestseller “The Naked Lawyer” and its sequel “Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045.” You can pick up her latest book today by emailing publishing@ark-group.com

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SocialHuman: a leap of faith

Posted on August 13th, 2015 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This article originally appeared in Professional Marketing magazine, volume 23, issue 1, summer 2015, and is reproduced with kind permission.

In a controversial extract from her new book Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer, Chrissie Lightfoot believes that branding isn’t everything. But everything is branding.

As I say in my book, I believe marketing to be dead. But branding isn’t… It’s time to share my thoughts, ideas, successes, and examples and start bringing together what I’ve shared with you thus far (and in the three sections that follow) with regard to a critical subject with reference to companies, ‘things’, and people across the globe, and no doubt a topic which perplexes and, sometimes vexes, the majority of businesses of law and lawyers; namely, branding.

We’re going to look at company brand (‘Brand,Firm’), personal brand (‘Brand,Me/You’), and product brand (‘Brand,Product’).

You may be asking yourself, ‘why these three?’ Well, many people have asked me in the past few years:

‘Chrissie, how did you do it? How have you gone from a no-body into a ‘somebody’ who works with top companies all around the world?

How did you do it from a standing start with no money, no network and no connections at the start of the worst recession the world has ever experienced?

What’s your secret?’

‘My secret?’, I reply, ‘It’s a leap of brand.

The secret lies in the brand trio, and the order in which you build the brand in this Digital Age.’

So here’s the trio and here is the order in which I built a viable, feasible and sustainable six-figure company and lifestyle these past few years, from absolutely nothing:

Brand,Me;

Brand,Product; and

Brand,Firm.

Why did I do it this way and why does it work?

  • ‘Brand,Me’ and ‘Brand,Product’ build the profile and reputation of ‘Brand,Firm’ by volume and in stages giving depth and breadth to the power of THE BRAND, the SOCIAL BRAND, and SOCIALHUMAN;
  • It’s highly cost-effective and has the most impact this way, fast;
  • ‘Brand,Me’ and ‘Brand,Product’ generate the income (provide the funding) for creating ‘Brand,Firm’ and/or re-branding ‘Brand,Firm’. This is hugely important for companies with limited financial clout, which is the reality for the majority of businesses of law that simply do not a have a Daddy Warbucks Branding War Chest; and
  • It’s because THIS is the ORDER your clients and prospects relate to your company. It’s what clients/customers/consumers want in this Digital Age and Robotic Age. They buy due to emotion and justify the purchase with logic. It therefore seems logical that you focus building a brand starting with humanness (‘Brand,Me’) and share something of benefit/value with the customer (‘Brand,Product’) whereby ‘Brand,Firm’ is naturally borne from these two.

This is not pie in the sky theoretical waffle, or mumbo-jumbo. This brand trio order works. It works extremely well. It worked for me. It works for my customers. It will work for you too.

And now that various highly credible reports and research have provided proof of what my gut, logic, and entrepreneurial spirit told me, no doubt there will be fewer naysayers and more of you willing to take ‘a leap of brand’.

Every interaction you have with someone outside (and inside) your company is an instance of ‘relating’ – or, if you prefer, ‘branding in lights’. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is each interaction good, bad, or indifferent?
  • Effective or ineffective?
  • Positive or negative?
  • Brand-building or brand-destroying?

These are important questions – because branding is not everything, but everything is branding. Do you have what it takes to make ‘a leap of brand’?

‘Brand,Me’, ‘Brand,Product’, ‘Brand,Firm’

This brand triage is like magic. It’s not about which trumps which, btw, it’s about making sure you work on all three ‘brand horizons’ at the same time; a bit like your company-wide strategy and operational focus: horizons 1,2, and 3.

Brand,Product

Do your colleagues have a choice word for you? If not, here’s why you want them to. Sometimes one word can make all the difference. It’s how people will instantly recall and remember you. For example:

  • Iron = Margaret Thatcher (the ‘iron lady’)
  • Dream = Martin Luther-King (‘I have a dream’ speech)
  • Best = Mohammad Ali (‘I’m the best’)

But you don’t have to be a celebrity, mega sports star, a leading politician, or any guise of famous for that matter. Let me tell you a wee story…

I was at an awards dinner (legal conference) recently. It was coming to a close and I had wandered into the reception area arm in arm with my fella. We collected our coats and then I popped to the ladies while he wandered outside to make a phone call in peace away from all the noise and hoi polloi to hail a taxi. On my returning to the spot where we had parted a rather tall, handsome, suave-looking guy walked confidently toward me with hand outstretched in readiness to greet me, bellowing an enthusiastic ‘HEY…NAKED!’

Co-incidentally, while this scene unfolded, my fella had just entered the reception area and was making his way back to me; only a few meters away, he would have definitely heard the shout of ‘hey…naked’. Everyone else in the room did. 90 per cent of the gathering turned and glanced toward me and ‘Mr Handsome’.

Now, most of us would be embarrassed/curl up and die/hope the ground would open up and swallow us whole, if this situation was unfolding, but I smiled sweetly and duly pressed the flesh when he sidled up beside me and planted a kiss on my cheek, beaming like Top Cat. The gentleman (I still didn’t have a Scooby-doo of an idea who he was) continued with ‘How are you? Great to see you here. I saw you last at the Claims Conference where you went down a storm and gave a really stunning speech about getting naked’[i].

My guy arrived at this point, placed his arm around me and held out a hand to ‘this guy’ and the usual pleasantries occurred. Phew.

In all innocence, I didn’t know the gentleman at all. He was a delegate at one of the many conferences I attended this year. Turns out he was an employee of the event organiser company when he explained himself further to the both of us during the short conversation. But he felt he knew me, through my message, and the one word… NAKED… resonated with him. (And now, 90 per cent of the 500+ delegates attending the dinner that evening do too!)

The lesson here is, authentic positioning and just one word matters – especially for individuals. ‘Mr Handsome’ couldn’t remember my first and last name, or the name of my company, but he remembered the brand essence of the message I live, breath, and teach (and the brand product book catchy title of the naked lawyer). That is, we need to get: NAKED.

This dovetails nicely with helping you understand, no doubt, the importance of having a powerful ‘Brand, Product’, such as a book, or equivalent. If you share something of benefit/value with the (potential or existing) customer, such as, the naked lawyer book and achieve conveying your message powerfully with one word, the likelihood is that your SOCIAL BRAND will be amplified through your personal brand and product brand. Meaning, there is no need to market, in the traditional sense. The power of the word, the association, the resonance, does it for you.

Chrissie Lightfoot – The Entrepreneur Lawyer, CEO, Entrepreneur Limited, legal futurist, speaker, consultant and writer – is author of Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045 (Dec 2014), and its prequel bestseller The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How to Market, Brand and Sell You! (Dec 2010). You can pick up her latest book today by emailing publishing@ark-group.com or call +44(0) 207 566 5792.

[i] March 13th 2014 – Claims Conference I was a speaker at the The Art of Reinvention conference, Manchester, UK, delivering a provocative presentation onThe Future of The Law”

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Extract from Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer – NewTech & SocialHuman tracking

Posted on August 11th, 2015 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This article was first published in Legal IT Today 30th June 2015 titled “When will technology enable law firms to monitor and understand social media communications?” and is reproduced with kind permission.

Chrissie Lightfoot shares an extract from her latest book, Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045. It includes her insights about “NewTech” and its application.

The businesses of law are increasingly relying on new technologies to drive processes and efficiencies. This trend is only going to continue as we advance into a robotic age with advanced technology encompassing cognitive computing, cognitive reasoning and artificial intelligence. Inevitably, legal businesses will become ever more tightly connected. The companies (and lawyers) that succeed in the near future will be those that take the time now to assess the role of advanced technology (NewTech) in their delivery and service model.

While all this whizz-bang legal technology may be fabulous, there are elements missing that would make it absolutely magical. “SocialHuman” tracking and attribution, for example.

I have spoken with a handful of (leading) existing legal tech providers about my idea to track the online social activity of lawyers and to drop that activity seamlessly into an existing ERP/DM AX/ DM/CRM system.

Where lawyers, prospects and clients increasingly meet and communicate in social land, it seems obvious that the tech systems need to evolve to cater for this communication medium and SocialHuman element. At present, lawyers have to feed the information into their tech system manually (using a keyboard) with regard to their activity on various social streams such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. They do this to track the touch points with their prospects and clients to feed into the bigger CRM picture, resulting (hopefully) in a client matter and therefore the finance and (fingers crossed) remuneration system.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all this were done automatically? We’re there with document automation in law law land. We’re beginning to get there with marketing automation, slowly. But the next big thing, I reckon, in law law land tech, is to tackle SocialHuman technology.

I wonder which of the current legal tech players will be the pioneer? Perhaps it won’t be any of them. Perhaps it will be a new player that comes along and bolts the SocialHuman tech/software “plug and play” element into one of the MD platform providers.

On the subject of attribution, I was chatting with a couple of people from Google earlier this year at a conference and thereafter at Google HQ about Jaz Rasool’s relevance and resonance technology (since Google search and algorithms presently tick and buzz around relevance) and my idea about SocialHuman tracking attribution. I shared with them my views on the relationship cycle and correct attribution with regard to who in the law firm actually influenced the instruction from what social/web based activity – for example, using social networking, recording it easily, and therefore the right individual being rewarded accordingly.

The gist of their comments was this: in the future, we are going to have a much better understanding of attribution. Smart legal businesses are going to get more excited about things like how you can tell for sure that the advertising that resulted on you clicking on the ad got you to the website and resulted in the instruction – i.e. they’re going to want to know where the instruction really came from.

I reckon they were actually talking about which elements truly impacted the instruction decision. If we could combine this idea with what I am suggesting, then this would be magical for the lawyer, the prospect and client of the law firm, and ultimately for the owner of the business of law.

I can see it would certainly sit nicely with businesses of law that boast a merit-based system, such as RPC, which scrapped its flat rate salary for newly qualified (NQ) solicitors from September this year in favour of a merit-based system. The firm argues that the concept of the flat rate has “passed its sell-by date”. Hear hear! Perhaps if the law firm I was at was as pioneering and visionary as RPC, I would have stayed practising law there as a NQ with this fabulous setup in play!

Prior to September, only trainees and NQs had a fixed salary at RPC, with those higher up the chain already rewarded through a merit-based system. This is the most common (outdated IMHO) set-up in law law land as we currently know it.

While I’m on this innovating soapbox, I believe it’s timely to say that if the existing legal tech providers plugged the IBM Watson AI tech into their ERP/ MD AX/MD CRM systems then this would boost the value of their products exponentially in lots of areas. It’s not a bad or mad idea, since your brain and mine, and those of our fellow lawyers, prospects and clients are going to be “in the cloud” by 2029 and connected to technology and heaven knows what else.

Forewarned is forearmed. It’s better to be prepared than to be chasing your tail. I guess the question is: are you going to be a first mover or a laggard?

Coincidentally, since publishing Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer in November 2014 – we’re six months further down the NewTech evolutionary road – I believe IBM is making great strides in the very area I speak of: SocialHuman tracking attribution together with social media reputation of the company.

If Companies House opens up its datasets to the likes of IBM, it will mean that with the IBM Watson technology it will be able to go in, understand the totality of a company and potentially tie it into other data, for example, social media monitoring and social media reputation, thereby providing a full health check of a company. By monitoring and understanding social media communication, one has to wonder what goodies of information will surely flow. I shall leave you to ponder…

Chrissie Lightfoot is an entrepreneur turned non-practising solicitor turned entrepreneur and CEO of EntrepreneurLawyer. She is the author of Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045 (published November 2014) and its prequel best-seller The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How to Market, Brand and Sell You! (published in November 2010).

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