Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Could Robots Replace M&A Lawyers?

M&A LawyersThe American Interest, Start-Up Takes Aim at BigLaw:

Venture capital money keeps flowing to promising new tech companies that are working to automate many of the routine tasks conducted highly-paid 20-somethings at big city corporate law firms [First, Let’s Uberize All the Lawyers; Two New Techs Shaking Up the Law Field]. The latest example, from Bloomberg [Mike Lynch’s Invoke Aims to Replace M&A Lawyers With Robots]:

Could the armies of lawyers needed to close billion-dollar deals soon be a thing of the past?

That’s what Invoke Capital, the London-based venture firm run by former Autonomy Plc Chief Executive Officer Mike Lynch, is betting with its latest project financing. Invoke said Wednesday that it’s making an investment in Luminance, a U.K. startup using artificial intelligence to process legal documents and automate due diligence in mergers and acquisitions. ...

Luminance says its software can read and understand hundreds of pages of legal documents a minute, enabling lawyers to carry out due diligence far faster than previously. Sally Wokes, a partner at Slaughter and May who works on large company mergers and who helped trial Luminance, said the firm found that completing due diligence while using the system was as much as 50 percent faster than doing the same document reviews using only humans. ...

"Luminance has been trained to think like a lawyer," the company’s Chief Executive Officer Emily Foges, a veteran of senior executive roles at Betfair, BT and Equifax, said in a statement. The software can highlight important information without needing to be told what specifically to look for, according to Foges. Rather than employing attorneys to scan through thousands of documents to identify possible issues, these lawyers can now devote their time to analyzing the software’s findings and negotiating deal terms, Foges said. ...

Over the last several decades, the bulk of the dislocation wrought by globalized finance capitalism and technological innovation has been concentrated on less-skilled workers, who have faced downward wage pressure from automation and outsourcing, while sectors like law, banking, and consulting have reaped a disproportionate share of the benefits. But as computer technology continues to cross new frontiers, even high-skilled professional jobs may be affected.

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Time to worry (or to learn code).

Posted by: John Novack | Sep 20, 2016 9:23:56 AM

Wait, former first-year associates have told me that lawyers can never be replaced by technology or cheaper legal services providers because unspecified reasons.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Sep 20, 2016 8:03:46 AM