How a serial tech entrepreneur is transforming a global law firm

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Legal Cheek’s Will Holmes sits down with Gerard Frith, Taylor Wessing’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence, to discuss how technology is changing the legal profession

Gerard Frith, Taylor Wessing Entrepreneur in Residence

“Always read and think as broadly as possible,” advocates Gerard Frith, who advises aspiring lawyers to develop a keen eye for identifying problems and finding innovative solutions that sometimes “defy orthodoxy.”

The “entrepreneur in residence” may not seem like the kind of person you expect to find in a city law firm. He has a background in artificial intelligence (AI) rather than law and his career includes stints at Deloitte, PwC and Westminster City Council, as well as a host of companies he founded. But at the end of 2016 he quit MatterAI, the AI ​​product builder and consultancy start-up he founded and turned into a multimillion-pound business, to pursue a new challenge. .

“I was really struck by the tremendous opportunity to make an impact in the legal industry,” he says, noting that the profession tends to be “behind the pack” when it comes to innovation. He joined Taylor Wessing, a company he considers truly “non-hierarchical and open to bold new ideas”.

“They do such innovative work at the firm and there are a lot of lawyers here with degrees and doctorates in STEM, which gives the place a real openness to change,” says Frith, who is a big supporter of the drive of Taylor Wessing’s managing partner, Shane Gleghorn, to push the company forward in this area.

In this innovation-friendly atmosphere, Frith has been able to channel his less risk-averse entrepreneurial approach towards creating new products that can enhance the role of lawyers and generate profits at the same time.

Applications Close for Taylor Wessing Open House tomorrow (October 1)

So, what inventions did he promote? Well, in his words, “a mix of different things”, including expert systems using natural language processing that can answer simple customer questions and a visual recognition AI tool called “Dupe Killer” that can scan the web for intellectual property infringement. He is also interested in how more formalistic legal language could be translated into smart contracts which he says have “lots of untapped potential”.

Tools like these can make law firms more attractive both to lawyers, who are relieved of the “boring parts” of their day-to-day work, and to clients, who receive better service and no need not worry about being charged high rates for relatively simple legal services. requests.

Will this kind of innovation completely eliminate lawyers? Frith suggests that “a lot of work will be taken over”, with AI being “almost as good as lawyers at reviewing contracts”, for example. But new technology is only redefining the role of the lawyer and revealing where he has been “doing the wrong kind of work”. Indeed, according to Frith, the future looks bright for lawyers: “Technology can create new ways to train and develop lawyers, making them more competent and effective earlier in their careers.

And we’re just getting started. For Frith, blockchain technology and the metaverse are two exciting innovations for the legal industry. He thinks “these technologies could revolutionize the way we interact with data and collaborate with others”, citing the prospect of reinventing the way disputes and contracts are visualized to make them more integrated into the processes for which they are used. . Simply put, everything from more accessible case management systems to holograms and interactive online spaces are not out of the question.

With predictions of big changes in the legal industry, the serial entrepreneur also thinks learning broader skills is important for aspiring lawyers. “UX, customer experience and service design thinking, for example, will definitely be worth the time,” he advises, and he encourages recruits to get actively involved in innovation. With the wind of the latest technological developments, it seems that it’s up to aspiring lawyers to learn how to ride the waves and propel their careers into a new digital era!

Gerard Frith will speak at the virtual event “Digital ventures and designing the client experience — with Taylor Wessing” on Tuesday, October 4. Apply now.

Applications Close for Taylor Wessing Open House tomorrow (October 1)

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