In this episode of LawTech Industry Insiders, Panteleimon Athanasiou is joined by Frederica Kitchen, Senior Account Manager and Mentor at Luminance. With an international client base, Frederica is responsible for assisting several of the top 100 law firms and other top tier firms around the globe, as well as other organisations, with their adoption of Luminance’s AI technology. Frederica works with lawyers to provide them with bespoke adoption plans and rollout strategies, ensuring each company has utmost confidence and is able to work faster and more efficiently throughout their implementation of AI.
Luminance Website: https://www.luminance.com
Q. Please introduce yourself and your career journey to date.
My name is Frederica Kitchen, I am a Senior Account Manager at Luminance. In terms of my career journey to date, I studied law at Exeter University. Then I did the LPC at the University of Law because at the time I was going to go on to start a training contract at DLA Piper. During that training contract, I decided that traditional route wasn't the thing I wanted to continue with anymore. At that point I joined Luminance as an Account Manager and then more recently have become a Senior Account Manager.
Q. What does Luminance do and what does it view as its market?
Luminance uses an engine called LITE, this stands for the Legal Inference Transformation Engine. What it does in simple terms is it uses a combination of pattern recognition technology with machine learning, so a blend of unsupervised machine learning and supervised machine learning.
It reads and understands the human language, and it learns from it and learns from further interactions between the humans that the lawyer or whoever's reviewing that document and the document itself. So that's really what Luminance is designed to do.
In terms of the market that we see ourselves operating in, initially this was the legal market, what we wanted to do at the very beginning was help lawyers who are faced with huge reams of documentation for review. With the increase in enterprise data we're seeing at the moment along with increasing time constraints and cost constraints that are coming from clients, lawyers in that space needed something that would allow them to review more quickly, but crucially with more confidence in the results of their legal analysis. That's why we targeted the legal market first and we saw lots of M&A lawyers using Luminance towards the beginning for due diligence. But as time has gone on, it became clear to us that it is a very flexible tool and essentially anyone who needs to read and glean information and report on documents could actually benefit from this as well.
We’ve got over 250 customers now, that includes a fifth of the top 100 global law firms, offices of all of the Big Four accountancy firms. We work with insurers, underwriters, commercial property companies, banks, consultants, and when working with those organisations that can be for the due diligence/document review aspect, but we've also developed a Discovery tool as well. That more targets people such as litigators who are working on investigations or in litigation arbitration and the disputes arena. The Discovery tool uses that same LITE engine and the machine learning and pattern recognition to power it but it's tailored to a slightly different legal thought process.
Q. What key benefits does Luminance offer to law firms and other companies using it for document review in the legal sector?
What we're seeing in this space is huge increases in data size and the data that companies have and hold. Humans who are tasked with reviewing that can't keep up. That's one of the problems we're trying to solve here, but firms who do adopt technology to solve that problem can really become more competitive as a player in that industry, because not only are they saving this time in the first place, they can maybe deliver new projects to clients they couldn't previously as well.
Not only does it bring these benefits to those law firms and businesses who opt to use technology, but the key thing that we're trying to do is to allow lawyers to still be lawyers, so still review the documents and glean insights and provide comprehensive advice to their clients, but they're super charged in a way. The tool helps them with that really administrative work, literally turning pages and trying to find information from it, thus freeing them up to spend a lot more time on the high value advisory work instead. That's what I'd say the main benefits are here, it is helping firms serve their clients better, but also remain competitive in the industry.
Q. How do you think legal technology such as Luminance can improve efficiency in the legal industry and in which areas work do you see legal technology becoming more useful?
This could be in the context of document review and due diligence, but it could also be in the space of e-discovery as well for litigators that are trying to find sort of the needle in the haystack within sometimes millions of emails and communications.
In terms of improving efficiency or improving the service that firms delivering to clients, the obvious point is saving time by not having to literally sift through documents in a darkened room or on a horrible screen in some clunky data room, or even printing them off.
Allowing firms to review the whole document set or review the whole corpus of documents that their client might come to them with. That's where the real value lies, not just in saving time, but making sure clients are in the best position possible. In the industry, due to increasing data set sizes firms are beginning to sample document sets because there's simply not enough time or resource to review that whole set manually. For example, if a firm has 200,000 documents it's not going to be possible to deliver that project on time and on budget for the client so the firm will agree to review say 10% of those documents, but then there's a certain level of risk that's passed on and you can't be confident that every single issue has been surfaced.
Firms using Luminance and similar tools are able to use the time that they've saved to review the entire document set. To review with a lot more rigor than they would manually, and obviously this improves the quality of work and the value that they are giving to their clients, which puts those clients in a much better negotiation position earlier on in the deal life cycle. And obviously really improving that client relationship at the same time.
Q. Luminance offers a blend of supervised and unsupervised machine learning, in your opinion why is this blend important for document review?
In terms of unsupervised machine learning in the context of Luminance, this means it will read and understand the patterns in language within a set of documents almost straight away. When you upload a data room into the system that the lawyers are having to sift through to find the key information, it will do a lot of that initial finding straight away. So this is what that unsupervised element is doing here, it is applying meaning to the patterns in language that it finds in a set of documents and it will categorize those before the lawyer has actually started their review.
Why this is important, is that when the system is doing that, it's not asking the lawyer what they are looking for, it's just going to surface you anything that it understands and recognizes, which means it doesn't hide unknown unknowns for you. That is so important in the legal context because half the time lawyers don't know what they're looking for until they find it. This is where without unsupervised machine learning, you're hitting a hurdle at the very beginning, because if something does exist in those documents, but you haven't told the system you're looking for it, because you simply don't know that you are yet, then it's not going to surface that to you at all. Let's also say you're in your review as you're going along, if you find something that is important to you or something different, when you tag that clause as important, Luminance can surface other similar patterns or paragraphs within your set of documents.
For example, there is a change of control clause in your documents that's actually very important to this deal, but it doesn't have the words change or control in it. It doesn't matter because Luminance can still distinguish this pattern.
The supervised element is essentially the step where if something new comes up that Luminance hasn't flagged or tagged, because it doesn't understand this thing yet, the lawyer is able to still interact with the system and tell the system it is important. Luminance will learn that and retain that knowledge for future transactions.
Q. Do you predict a trend towards more supervised or unsupervised machine learning in the future in the legal technology industry?
From our perspective, the lawyer's interaction with technology is crucial. It shouldn't be that technology takes the jobs of lawyers and the robots are coming for their jobs, it's just not the way it should be. Lawyers have trained for so many years and humans are incredibly intelligent at reading and understanding context and applying that analysis and advice to that. Although we call it unsupervised machine learning that's just the machine picking up on things that could be useful to the lawyer, it's not the machine making decisions for them.
However, there will definitely be a trend towards lawyers working with technology more. There is a common misconception that it's lawyer versus technology: which one is better, but I see a more sustainable and long term pattern towards lawyers empowered by technology. Not working against it, but how does the lawyer perform on their own versus how does the lawyer perform when they're enhanced by technology. I definitely think we'll see a trend of the two working in tandem.
Q. The Big Four accountancy firms and virtual law firms are becoming increasingly competitive in the legal industry, how does this diverse legal industry impact companies like Luminance operating as vendors, does this mean more opportunity?
Yeah, absolutely. This really helps us grow as a company and it really diversifies our audience. What is really interesting about the Big Four and virtual law firms that are popping up, these are very innovative companies because they've seen an opportunity or a gap in the market and they've adapted to that. They already think in a very innovative way, and they're essentially competing with traditional law firms, but they're competing seriously well in many cases. They are very open to adopting technology, really listening to client needs and responding to them. I think they're seeing it as a real opportunity and not a threat and I'd say our own client base is testament to that.
I would say the traditional law firms though, they're definitely catching up. I've seen a massive surge in adoption over the last 12 months or so. They are more open than ever right now to actually implementing technology in their daily work. A lot have been left with no choice at the moment, we're all stranded working at home, we don't have big office printers, we need a way to collaborate and deliver work to clients still in the same way as before. Technology is one of the levers that law firms can pull right now to do that. So I would say the traditional law firms are definitely hot on the heels of the others and definitely responding well to the use of technology at the moment.
Q. In your opinion, why is it important that students know about legal technology?
I think why it's important is a great question because I've totally been there. When I was at university I had a real interest in technology and how that was going to disrupt the legal industry. What was interesting to me is when I was interviewed for my position as a trainee at a massive international law firm, I had to pitch to them for about 15 minutes on why I think AI is going to change the legal industry. This was five years ago, so it's definitely something that is extremely important now as a disruptive force in the industry. It's no longer a case of will it change, what might this technology do, it will change and it needs to change. The legal industry is quite a slow moving industry, but I think to the future lawyers out there, these changes will feel less disruptive if you're educated and open to change.
Ultimately our generation; millennials, people love us or hate us as a generation, but we do have a real hunger for efficiency. For example, Google Maps, we need to know where we are going, we look at that immediately. We want some food, we order it straight away on Deliveroo. So we really want to make every aspect of our life efficient. And I think that will continue into the workplace as well.
The people coming into law firms right now they're the partners of future and business simply won't improve if we maintain the same processes forever. At the end of the day, law firms are just businesses and they certainly need to improve efficiency wherever they can, because this will improve their profitability as businesses too. And we are definitely the generation to drive that change. We as younger people are going to be the main people using this technology as it's normally junior associates who are conducting large scale document review and any discovery, so it will be part of our jobs. So I think understanding it before you go in certainly arms you very well.
Q. What practical steps can students take to learn more about legal technology?
Obviously research, it sounds very simple, but I don't just mean reading articles or reading textbooks, although there are some great articles and lots of different media: The Lawyer, different newsletters that you can sign up to, even the Financial Times have done loads of articles on legal tech more recently. If you go onto LinkedIn or websites of vendors, you'll see videos, you might see case studies, but also sign up for webinars. I know at the moment webinars are really on fire as a trend but I think they're incredibly important. It's a great way for people to learn more right now and they're normally free to sign up to, ours definitely are. So if you get over onto our LinkedIn you will see we've got tons of different webinars where you can learn more and even see the technology in action.
The final thing I'd say is network. If you want to learn more then literally reach out to experts or people who know a thing or two about legal tech on LinkedIn, we're a really connected sort of industry and a really connected generation as well. So networking, asking questions, and the chances are someone will provide you with an answer and help you out. There are plenty of resources out there to learn more.
Luminance is the leading artificial intelligence platform for the legal profession, with over 250 customers in more than 50 countries. Luminance’s machine learning technology reads and forms an understanding of documents, helping lawyers to perform the most thorough and rapid document reviews across practice areas including due diligence, contract negotiation, regulatory compliance reviews, property portfolio analysis and eDiscovery. Luminance has offices in London, Cambridge, New York and Singapore.
Luminance is looking for talent in a variety of fields, from software engineering to sales and marketing. If you want to join a company at the forefront of AI and machine learning, we'd love to hear from you.