Machines have long since taken the physical drudgery out of many of the most tedious everyday chores, such as cleaning carpets and washing clothes, but a new generation of innovations is promising to do away with something much more familiar to the average lawyer: menial mental drudgery.

Last year, for example, JP Morgan introduced some machine-learning software that it claims will replace 360,000 hours a year of mundane contract-review work. The program, known as Coin, short for Contract Intelligence, is part of an initiative to get computers to take over tedious jobs.

Computers are well suited to these types of tasks because, unlike staff working on the same mind-numbing jobs every day, they never get bored. In the case of Coin, that also means it makes fewer loan-servicing mistakes. Instead, it uses pattern-recognition to “learn” how to interpret commercial loan agreements and may soon be able to analyse other legal documents, such as credit default swap agreements.

Far from stealing our jobs, this could be good news for human workers. In the same way that vacuum cleaners and washing machines freed millions of people to join the workforce and spur significant economic growth, machine-learning technologies could free lawyers and other white-collar workers to focus on higher value-added activities (which are also less boring).

However, such advances don’t come cheap — JP Morgan spends almost US$10 billion a year on technology, or roughly 10% of its revenue — but the resulting software is likely to end up being licensed to clients and, ultimately, to anyone who is willing to pay for it.

It is of course notable that a bank developed this technology rather than a provider of legal services. No law firms invest anywhere close to 10% of their revenue in technology and it remains to be seen whether they will ever have the capability (or the appetite) to innovate such solutions.

Who will take the lead in innovating legal tech in the future and how it will affect the sector, as well as many other questions, will be on the agenda at the Legal Inno’ Tech Forum that will take place at Espace in Central Hong Kong on Thursday, June 8, 2017.

 

Related Articles by Firm
Myanmar Opened its Broadcasting and TV Market
The Broadcasting Law 2015 opens commercial licenses for TV or radio for bidding under an independent supervisory authority. This offers wide opportunities to investors from broadcasting infrastructures to broadcasting services.
Clasis Law (India) Newsletter August 2015
Analysis of the revocation of a company's drug patent and other key court rulings and updates on corporate and commercial matters
The new CIETAC Arbitration Rules 2015
The New Rules adopt both best practices and the latest developments in international commercial arbitration and accommodate the increasing needs of the parties arbitrating at CIETAC.
Tanzania: Prospecting for and mining of radioactive minerals
New uranium mining projects have recently been announced in Tanzania. This briefing looks at the legislative framework surrounding radioactive minerals in Tanzania.
Related Articles
Hong Kong, Shenzhen and the economics of convergence
Convergence between the two neighbours is set to be one of the two or three most vital growth stories of the next decade.
KWM targets Greater Bay Area with international centre
King & Wood Mallesons is getting on board with China’s plan to integrate Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong.
Reed Smith launches “innovation hours” to encourage new ideas
The scheme follows a successful pilot that saw attorneys across the firm devoting hundreds of hours to six projects in 2017.
Related Articles by Jurisdiction
Latest Articles
Thailand Update: Amendment to Work Permit Law
In response to criticism, the government decided to amend the Emergency Decree on Managing of Foreigners with relaxed penalties ...
Ethical Decision Making Process by Manish Asarkar
Manish Asarkar, legal & compliance head of Black & Veatch, India talks about the value in having strong Ethics and Compliance for companies and how to reatain these values in the decision making process.
Law passed promoting ease of doing business in the Philippines
A law promoting the ease of doing business and efficient delivery of government services took effect this June 2018.