legal engineers


On the road with Wavelength

Last month was hectic for our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Ben Gardner, he was out on the road in London and Manchester delivering talks and facilitating panels. Here is his update:

Wavelength is a keen supporter of the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA). At its recent ILTA Insight 2017 conference, I ran two panels on ‘Smart Contracts’ and ‘Being Smarter with Data’. During the first panel session, I facilitated a conversation between Peter Hunn (Founder, Clause.io), Nigel Brook (Partner, Clyde&Co), Richard Hay (FinTech Lead, Linklaters) and, fresh from his keynote speech, Richard Tromans (Founder, Tromans Consulting/Artificial Lawyer) around the topic ‘When will Smart Contracts be important to the legal market?’. The panel discussion focused on what Smart Contracts are and how they are being used, rather than the technologies they are built on. In addition to exploring various use case examples of Smart Contracts in action today (see Fizzy (a flight delay Smart Contact from AXA), and a proof of concept Internet of Things enabled Smart Contract for supply chain), the group also discussed the legal and practical challenges of the technology, how regulators are responding, and what the impact of these tools and approaches might be in the future. A recording of the panel, along with the slides, is available here.

The second panel session explored the journey from ‘Crude data to actionable insights’ and involved Nick Andrews (Linklaters), Ben Weinberger (Prosperoware) and myself. Using practical examples from their work, the panel illustrated how technology is enabling law firms and legal teams to extract data from unstructured form (e.g. documents, webpages, emails, etc.), semi structured form (e.g. forms, excel, lists, etc.) and structured form (e.g. databases, etc.), and to combine these together to realise synergies and to eliminate information silos. This session was also recorded and is available here. Of particular note in the recording is the use case example that Nick Andrews shared around Smart BD, which combines CRM activities with data from Linklaters’ Client Knowledge Portal and the relationships they hold with clients to provide insights that drive business development (Nick’s description of this use case starts at around minute 9 of the recording). I believe this is a great example of what can be achieved when data from multiple sources are combined, and the valuable insights that are unlocked as a consequence.

Finally, in a separate event at the Manchester University School of Law, we were asked to speak to students about what a career as a Legal Engineer is really like. This was a well-attended presentation with lots of interesting questions from the attendees. I participated a similar event for students at BPP last year and it was both interesting and encouraging to see how the questions seemed to have moved on in 12 months or so from ‘will AI take my job?’ to ‘how can I get experience with these tools?’. At Wavelength, we believe it is very important for us to help grow the legal engineering profession, and one way we can do this is by investing back into the next generation of professionals. We are committed to doing more of these types of educational events and have exciting sessions at UCL and Swansea University planned for January next year. If you are an organisation looking to provide students with insights into how the legal profession is changing, then please do get in touch.

Photo by Ezra Jeffrey on Unsplash

Ben Gardner