This promises to be quite a week in legal AI. Today’s post is the prelude to what I expect to be a deluge of news from ILTACON 2018. I’ll be traveling all day Tuesday, so getting a slow start on my ILTA coverage.


  • Early news from ILTACON via Artificial Lawyer: “Thomson Reuters has developed an application that creates ‘smart documents’ using Contract Express and the blockchain capabilities of Integra Ledger.” “….(T)the aim is to have the POC work seamlessly with NetDocuments.” Details here.


  • A2J news from Artificial Lawyer: “Australia-based legal tech company, Legaler, has raised $1.5 million to help build blockchain-based solutions for the future of legal services and to boost access to justice.”


  • Hogan Lovells announcedThe Hogan Lovells law firm advised on the first ever blockchain technology-based transaction on the Polish office market. “The parties involved were Business Link (the Landlord), and Ricoh (the Tenant). … The innovative solution based on blockchain technology was implemented in order to ensure the safety of the lease transactions, the indisputability of the commercial and legal conditions, as well as the reduction of agency and consultation costs.”


  • From Mayer Brown’s Rebecca Eisner, this is an interesting financial services-focused discussion of the need for AI laws and regulations, and how one should (cautiously) proceed until more are in place.


  • Legal Futures reports that “(t)he company charged with digitising the (UK) courts (CaseLines) is to deploy artificial intelligence (AI) to assist lawyers in understanding complex evidence, ….CaseLines … will use the technology to create a ‘mind map’ – a visual way of presenting information said to mirror more closely the non-linear way the human brain handles data.” “Paul Sachs, chief technology officer of Netmaster Solutions, the company behind CaseLines, (said AI is) a ‘terribly powerful’ tool to extract data such as ‘nouns that are not simple nouns, verbs that are not simple verbs, so places and people and so on.” “What I want to do is to create a mind map… which a lawyer can then basically use as a search tool to search the evidence in a way that is very practical.”


  • Here’s the final installment of Information Age’s Artificial intelligence in the legal industry: The future – Part 3. It covers the rise of Chief Technology Officers, how to facilitate the inevitable infiltration of AI into firms and the importance of data. “As with any other business, in any other industry, failing to innovate and improve will lead to extinction. Transform or die. … AI will soon become the standard. Those who don’t have and use it will, by definition, be sub-standard and in turn will be left behind by their clients, their competitors and the entire legal industry. Those that don’t adopt AI will fall behind their competitors, lose their clients and be entirely disrupted.”


  • This is my third inclusion of the Riverview/EY news. It’s one of the most thoughtful pieces yet, so I’d be remiss not to include it. The post discusses Riverview’s revolutionary focus on data, and (in my opinion) even more important: “Since its inception Riverview has advocated an ethos to which it has stayed faithful throughout, which is quite simply to put its customers at the centre of the design and evolution of its business model. Unlike any other organisation in this market, it set out from day 1 with an unwavering focus on defining value from a client perspective and then seeking to develop a model to deliver services, profitably, in line with this. The best and most prominent illustration was its decision to loudly and proudly eschew the billable hour. Standing by this has involved swimming against the market tide and genuinely taking risks in the pricing of work, not by reverse-engineering hourly charges but by putting faith in its ability to make efficient use of people, process and technology.  Failure is inherent in this approach – risks are risky, and don’t always pay off – but it simply leads to learning, recalibration and improvement.” More here.

Here’s a related story about the Big Four as threats to mid-sized law firms, and how those firms perceive the encroachment into their clients. “(L)aw firms may be able to seize on opportunities to collaborate with non-law firm competitors.”

  • A couple of days ago I reported on EY’s acquisition of Riverview Law. Since then it has been very widely reported (e.g., here) and the subject of many tweets, blog posts (e.g., here) and articles. Many see it as a portent of things to come, some agreeing with “Cornelius Grossmann, Ernst & Young’s global law leader, (who) said in a press release that the acquisition ‘underlines the position of EY as a leading disruptor of legal services.’ EY says the company will help it cut the costs of routine legal activities.” Artificial Lawyer’s in-depth analysis includes: “The EY/Riverlaw deal matters, but it matters most because it is part of a far larger picture: the incremental industrialisation of the provision of legal services to the global economy and society as a whole.”


  • AI you can use! This interview with Ping CEO Ryan Alshak describes how his company tries to take the pain out of timekeeping. “We obsess over eliminating the friction of timekeeping. There is no reason why it should take just as long to log work as it does to perform the work in the first place. Our design motto is ‘less clicks.’ In terms of automation, we plug into systems lawyers use to perform billable work and we leverage machine learning to build a complete timesheet. So, a lawyer works exactly as they are now, and Ping captures, categorizes, describes and codifies it automatically. The lawyer just needs to review and release.” Of course, this is only relevant if your law firm still records time.


  • From Radiant Law, a LawTech Glossary with more than a twist of sarcasm. for instance, AI is, “A term for when a computer system does magic. “General” artificial intelligence refers to thinking computers, a concept that for the foreseeable future exists only in science fiction and LawTech talks. “Narrow” artificial intelligence refers to a limited capability (albeit one that may be very useful) such as classifying text or pictures, or expert systems. Discussions of AI that blur general and narrow AI are a good indication that you are dealing with bullshit.” I also enjoyed this one: “Design thinking: A new approach to improving processes, involving sticking brightly coloured post-it notes to walls or, preferably, windows.”


  • Ropes & Gray (Mark V. NuccioGideon BlattMike Tierney) issued this alert regarding a report issued July 31: Treasury Department Issues Regulatory Report on Fintech and Innovation. Among Treasury’s recommendations: “Further development and incorporation of cloud technologies, machine learning, and artificial intelligence into financial services.”


  • This article (The Robots are Not Just Coming – They are Already Here) is from the Journal of Accountancy, but its recommendations for “Cherished Advisors” are applicable to law firms.


  • Computer Security: New genre of artificial intelligence programs take computer hacking to another level. “(A) team from IBM … have used the artificial intelligence technique known as machine learning to build hacking programs that could slip past top-tier defensive measures. The group will unveil details of its experiment at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday.”  “Whoever you personally consider evil is already working on this.” More here.


  • National Security: As China’s Military Masters Artificial Intelligence, Why Are We Still Building Aircraft Carriers? “China appears determined to seize this AI “high ground” of future conflict. For the last two years, Chinese companies have won an AI competition for detecting objects. The Chinese are happy for the U.S. to keep building carriers and bombers, so long as they deploy the more advanced technologies that can disable these systems.” “…(I)n the Pentagon’s initial request for $74 billion in new defense spending in fiscal 2019, only .006 percent was targeted for science and technology.”

Meanwhile, thisPentagon to create new command for fighting in space, but resists Trump’s proposed ‘space force’. “Trump has never explained at length why he favors creation of a space force as an additional military service, but the concept often draws loud cheers at rallies.”

And this: JAIC: Pentagon debuts artificial intelligence hub. “On June 27, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan issued a memorandum that formally established the Defense Department’s new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC). According to the memo, JAIC’s overarching aim is to accelerate the delivery of AI-enabled capabilities, scale the impact of AI tools, and synchronize the department’s AI efforts.”



  • Like Oil and Water: Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain. This post‘s author () remarks that “(o)ver the next ten years, AI and Blockchain are two technologies that will form a pillar for the next set of billion (trillion?) dollar organizations. When combined with the Internet of Things, there are some useful applications that will be created to make our lives even easier.” But for now, he sees AI’s utility mainly in detecting fraudulent blockchain activity, and conversely that blockchain can serve as “(d)ecentralized AI marketplaces for data that AI needs.”
  • This is a very thoughtful and balanced piece by Scott D. Bailey, of Squire Patton Boggs re the implementation of AI in law firms.



  • From Artificial Lawyer, this is the history of one of the players in the AI contracts world, Eigen Technologies.


  • ICYMI –> A good summary of several of the programs at last week’s AI-focused College of Law Practice Management Futures Conference.

And from Kira, here are “7 Articles to Help You Understand How AI Can Transform Your Legal Practice.”


  • Another good example of Osborne Clarke demonstrating its AI expertise: “Can copyright survive artificial intelligence?”


  • The Guardian warns that AI regulation is needed, especially regarding health care.


  • Retail/consumer-facing companies are a great source of AI best practices. Coca-Cola, for instance. Greg Chambers, global director of digital innovation has said “AI is the foundation for everything we do. We create intelligent experiences. AI is the kernel that powers that experience.” (It’s relevant even if you firm doesn’t have Coke’s 105 million Facebook fans and 35 million Twitter followers.)


  • AI-related financing/investments:

India-based AXISCADES will set up its North American headquarters in Indiana, investing $10 million and creating 500 engineering jobs by 2023. The “innovation centre will focus on new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning and is expected to create a total of 2000 jobs for American workers by 2021.

Singapore is set to invest even more – over and above S$150 million – into AI under its Infocomm and Media Industry Transformation Map.

Ernst & Young announced yesterday a new lease agreement for 600,000 square feet at One Manhattan West, the 67-story, 2.1-million square foot office tower under construction on Manhattan’s west side. The office will focus on areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics process automation, blockchain, data analytics, digital, customer experience and cyber security.

Startups are said to have reached “unicorn” status when they have achieved $1 billion-plus in financing. Hong Kong AI company SenseTime Group has blown past that milestone at $1.5 billion, and they’re getting ready for their next round of financing by the end of the year. “The company has filed approximately 500 patents for its AI research that is applied for facial recognition, identity verification and smart city systems.”


  • Yesterday I posted that China is determined to lead the world in AI military within the next decade or so. Alphabet Exec Chairman Eric Schmidt and former US Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work agree that this is likely. “Our Artificial Intelligence ‘Sputnik Moment’ Is Now”


  • Stephen Hawking is again warning about AI: “I fear that AI may replace humans altogether,” as it will “improve and replicate itself” until it becomes a “new form of life that outperforms humans.”

But at least in the near term, Rob Kapito co-founder and president of asset management giant BlackRock believes “artificial intelligence will never fully replace humans in the investment world.” He expects collaboration/augmentation.


  • It’s Friday, so here’s a very good thought piece from my favorite publication, Scientific American. The Falling Walls Conference is an annual, global gathering of forward thinking individuals from 80 countries organized by the Falling Walls Foundation. Each year, on November 9—the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall—20 of the world’s leading scientists are invited to Berlin to present their current breakthrough research. The aim of the conference is to address two questions: Which will be the next walls to fall? And how will that change our lives? The author of this essay is speaking at this year’s Falling Walls gathering. The Past, Present and Future of Artificial Intelligence.