We look back at the recent IQPC Conference on the need for AI, within the legal profession, and ask – who needs this anyway?
It’s a stupid and naive question. Lawyers are the byword for heavy and voluminous documents and the search for precedence. You can argue that if anybody needs some sort of automated way to find the data that will get you out of jail – it is your lawyer. And whether this is criminal or private or commercial – the economics are clear; understanding and devising new ways to handle a legal process – and then automating it – can save billable hours.
And that is the question, and why this intriguing and intensive and experience lead two day event, was so critical – and explains why of all industries, the legal profession is the last to seriously take a peek under the hood, of the benefits of an AI process. In a market that so depends on its billable hours – why would you want to reduce your billable hours anyway?
It took a day of separate speeches and discussions and coffee networking – before on Day One, we reached this nadir. It was worth waiting for.
Key speakers and delegates from some of Europe’s leading brands, had flown in from across Europe and taken the DLR from across the road, to meet at Canary Wharf, and listen and contribute. A key strategy and benefit of an IQPC event is the informal inclusion. Nobody is afraid to say what they mean, and everybody understands that the more they contribute, the more they benefit, from everybody else.
In many ways, the informality belies it’s importance as a means of sharing important best practice. And this allows the delegates to ask the difficult questions. Day One, where we were present, allowed all parties to go beyond their earlier preconceptions that billable hours are the key essential, set that aside, and say :”well, there are other ways of doing this now”.
What is clear is that – unlike say financial services or Chief Data environments, the legal profession does not come to the table with a problem that it has to fix. People don’t use lawyers because they want to – it is because they have to. This has allowed the profession to do its own thing, in its own way. Up to a point.
Sure, this Conference was friendly, supportive. Key corporate legal decision makers rubbed shoulders with public sector movers and shakers. Networking around the water cooler on steroids if you will.
But what is clear, now, is that internal competition from one lawyer to the next – and also the growth and competence of Inside Counsel, has woken up the need to be more commercial. The need indeed for survival, in a real world, has finally kicked in.