LegalJune 13, 2019

The Future Ready Lawyer Invests in AI and Other New Technology

Managing Director David Bartolone explains how Wolters Kluwer and Kluwer Law International are heavily investing in new technological applications for the legal world.
Growing expert solutions is a key element of Wolters Kluwer’s strategy. Today, we are working to develop tailor-made solutions to integrate content in the users’ workflow. ‘We work to gain deep insight into our customers’ work processes so that we can deliver the most relevant information and in the context where they can take the next action. That comes through content integration, personalization and the ability to recognize and interpret patterns in the data.
David Bartolone, Director of Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S, International Group

Wolters Kluwer integrates content with technology for improved productivity and better decision support.

A lot has changed over David Bartolone’s 25-year tenure at Wolters Kluwer. The company has transformed from a traditional publisher into one of the most forward-thinking information and software solutions companies, combining technology innovation with deep domain knowledge. Our digital research platforms provide content written and curated by some of the most knowledgeable experts and authorities in their respective fields. That expertise is accessible by advanced technologies that deliver valuable insights in an end-to-end digital environment.

Within Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. Bartolone manages the International Group – Kluwer Law International, the business unit dedicated to providing legal information in the English language for practitioners advising on cross border commercial transactions. The information and workflow tools made available through the KLI platforms are relevant for legal professionals advising clients with operations in multiple jurisdictions.

Bartolone leads a diverse, multicultural team located in the United States, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Mexico. ‘If you look at the entire heritage of Wolters Kluwer since its inception in the early 1800s,’ says Bartolone, ‘you could characterize the DNA as ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘expertise,’ that has carried through in Wolters Kluwer’s culture to this day. ‘Our customers have always been able to rely on us for our trusted expertise, and now we’re incorporating leading edge technologies to deliver that expertise as solutions that are integrated into our customers’ workflows.’

Connecting the dots

Over the years, he has seen the role of technology evolve our offerings. Digitizing content and creating accessible ecosystems marked watershed moments for the company, according to Bartolone. ‘Growing expert solutions is a key element of Wolters Kluwer’s strategy. Today, we are working to develop tailor-made solutions to integrate content in the users’ workflow. ‘We work to gain deep insight into our customers’ work processes so that we can deliver the most relevant information and in the context where they can take the next action. That comes through content integration, personalization and the ability to recognize and interpret patterns in the data. Adding to the aggregation of documents are new AI tools that give the user context that assists them in connecting the dots between the insights and the desired task they’re looking to achieve.’

AI and document analysis

How does a multinational develop personalized content that is tailor-made? ‘Artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithms allow us to anticipate the thought process or workflow better so we can optimize solutions,’ explains Bartolone. ‘We might start with building a structure that will be able to find relationships between data points in the document. The next step is training the algorithm: increasing the ability of the computer program to recognize that structure and use it to more intuitively find an answer.’

Kluwer Competition Law, for example, uses AI to create a taxonomic structure that allows for automatic detection of topics in the content and the automatic assignment of topics to the content. Bartolone gives another example. ‘We have a partnership with a company called Dispute Resolution Data (DRD),’ says Bartolone. ‘Particularly in arbitration, you don’t have a wealth of publicly available decisions/awards that you can analyze. DRD has partnered with the arbitral institutions themselves. Those institutions allow DRD to search the data. They are aggregating data points across all of the arbitral awards to create insights while keeping the names of the parties and other confidential information anonymous. You can look at, for example, your opportunity for success on the basis of jurisdiction, industry sector, legal grounds for claim and type of law. Those conclusions can be used if you want to pitch your arbitration strategy to a client.’

The client demands it

‘Wolters Kluwer is ‘heavily investing’ in new technologies such as AI, machine learning and predictive analytics,’ says Bartolone. Any law firm and corporate legal department should examine how technology and other factors are affecting the future practice of law and prepare to address them. Earlier this year, Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory launched the 2019 Future Ready Lawyer Survey, an independently conducted study to assess the status of legal innovation globally. Wolters Kluwer included quantitative interviews with 700 lawyers in law firms, legal departments and business services firms across the U.S. and 10 European countries – the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Belgium, Hungary and the Czech Republic On the basis of a survey, 68 percent of Technology Leaders reported increased profitability. Of course, this also makes sense from a business point of view as greater efficiency (as a result of digitalization and automation) leads to more productivity at lower costs.

In a typical IP-related request, clients would ask for an overview of the ‘patent landscape’. This type of research used to require up to four weeks – but with an algorithm that can locate, organize, and deliver the analytics you desire in a visually coherent and adaptable way, the process becomes much shorter and far more efficient.

More than 7 in 10 lawyers identify coping with increased volume and complexity of information as a trend that will have high impact in the next three years, yet only 3 out of 10 feel prepared to address it. At the same time, over 70 percent register an emphasis on productivity and efficiency.

Meanwhile, the legal sector (especially the corporate law department) is being disrupted by start-ups, which provide legal services that offer innovative technologies spanning the entire legal process (big data, blockchain technology, machine learning, and text-mining).
Consequently, the top challenges for corporate legal departments today are: reducing and controlling outside legal costs; improving case and contract management; and automating routine tasks and leveraging technology in work processes according to the report.

How arbitration can benefit from AI and blockchain

Looking to the future, AI tools could also play a significant role throughout the entire arbitration process including recommending drafting suggestions for arbitration clauses or helping clients and lawyers identify blind spots. Parties could agree to use AI for some aspects of the arbitration itself such as discovery, to lower costs. Clients could also pre-screen a legal team’s fit for a particular case (e.g. success rate, extent of prior experience, peer-reviewed evaluations), and obtain a second opinion on their legal team’s analysis.

Blockchain is another new technology that is expected to become very relevant for the legal and notary practice. Self-executing smart contracts already allow for commercial transactions to take place without an intermediary. The technology could also be used to increase corporate social responsibility. In the mining industry for example, members of the supply chain, can adopt the smart contract functionality of a blockchain to only allow the transfer of ownership of minerals if the smart contract obligates the transferee to agree to adhere to the human rights commitment and be subject to the arbitration clause. Looking ahead, Bartolone sees plenty of other applications as well. Disputes related to the enforceability of an arbitral award, for example, could be solved with the help of blockchain technology, predicts Bartolone. ‘Blockchain could allow an arbitral tribunal to encrypt a seal of authenticity in the award itself, making a large part of these proceedings secure.’

Adoption of technologies within the legal industry has lagged other service industries, but is now accelerating, says Bartolone, an observation underlined by numbers. Investments in digital assets and technologies lead to more innovation, higher efficiency and increasing sales according to the World Economic Forum. Moreover, organizations that are already leveraging technology have an early-adopter advantage, including profitability and readiness to take on change, according to the Future Ready Lawyer report. ‘Law firms are starting to realize that they have to invest in different types of technologies, says Bartolone. ‘They are acknowledging that to remain competitive and drive PPP (profitability per partner) they must make investments in AI and legal technology to be future ready.’
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