Quick Links to Data: Linklaters launches new AI data-powered system to search and manage legal documents

August 29, 2019

3 min read

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What's going on here?

Linklaters has launched MatterExplorer, a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered system to search and manage legal documents.

What does this mean?

MatterExplorer allows Linklaters’ lawyers to search through over 750,000 documents from any of their 20 global offices in a matter of seconds. The launch of the AI application has proven a success with Linklaters staff who have already made over 185,000 searches.

To put it simply, MatterExplorer is intended to improve data management. It helps to save time on research and makes it easier to report high-quality data. Sophie Mathur, Linklaters partner and co-head of the Innovation Steering Group said, “[MatterExplorer] is all about getting our arms around the knowledge that we possess, which, next to our people, is the greatest asset that we have.”

MatterExplorer can find information about past matters from a variety of perspectives, including sector, jurisdiction, and various areas of law. The AI tool also makes it easier for Linklaters’ lawyers to access financial and client data, and their connection to other data sources. Consequently, MatterExplorer has led to a 400% increase in searches compared to the system that it replaced.

What's the big picture effect?

Linklaters is not alone when it comes to experimenting with AI. According to a survey by Gartner, the use of AI in enterprises has grown 270% over the past four years. Large law firms in particular have been swift to adopt AI. CBRE’s recent study of London law firms shows that 48% of firms are already using some form of AI tool, and its adoption doesn’t look like it will slow down any time soon. According to Deloitte, over 100,000 legal roles will be automated by 2036. These statistics are just a glimpse into AI’s future impact on the legal services industry.

What exactly does the use of AI in the legal sector look like? Tools such as Linklaters’ MatterExplorer can help sift through massive volumes of data; however, this is just the tip of the iceberg! For example, AI tools can be used to make document drafting processes inherently simpler. A lawyer can specify which points they wish to include in a document, and AI can be used to generate professional, legally-coherent sentences. Furthermore, specific AI algorithms can be created to extract desired information from documents. This could help lawyers filter through cases and identify common factors to analyse risk and build predictions of a case more easily.

Of course, the benefits of AI are by no means limited to the examples above. As AI continues to develop rapidly, we will likely see different firms adopting different AI tools depending on their field of speciality. However, what Linklaters’ MatterExplorer and other AI tools in the legal industry currently have in common is that they are designed to perform lawyers’ tasks faster and more efficiently. Joanne Frears, a commercial, IP and technology solicitor at Lionshead Law, argues that this approach to AI may be “missing the point”. She argues that lawyers need to think more like technologists and consider what AI can mean for the entire practice of legal service delivery instead of just looking at AI in terms of how things currently work in the legal sector. A solution to this might be wide-scale adoption of AI tools which will incentivise more ‘outside the box thinking’ in terms of how AI can change the legal industry. However, for now, AI tools remain limited to large law firms as funding them poses a major challenge for smaller firms.

Report written by Lina Jeffcock

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