At the core is Knowledge:
- applicable laws and regulations;
- the client’s business: operational features, commercial approach, and priorities; and
- market/industry practice and content standards.
Surrounding this core is what you might call the ring of power—Judgment. The ability to make the right decisions around things such as:
- risk parameters
- content look and feel
- interpersonal and organizational dynamics
- how to balance commercial and operational drivers
The next functional competency is Content Creation. Historically, content creation was all about written communications, but these days you can include numerical (e.g., Excel) and graphic (e.g., PowerPoint) forms as well. And let’s not forget those most fashionable outputs in the legal ops world: workflows and process designs.
Finally, we have Persuasion, which has always been the lawyer’s superpower. Persuasion is the competency that executes with maximum effectiveness the delivery of all that knowledge, judgment, and content and is a more pervasive activity than you might think. Examples of persuasion are:
- counterparties (negotiations);
- clients (pitches, advice);
- colleagues (training, coaching, leadership); and
- market (thought leadership, events, and presentations).
Bringing these competencies together is Experience, which we define as the effective use of judgment based on knowledge acquired through sufficient practice. That’s a functional definition, as distinct from simply having “twenty-five years of experience in reviewing NDAs in the noodle packaging sector.”
Here Comes the Machine
AI will play an increasingly central role in the performance of all of these competencies, and not just knowledge and content creation, which are the industry’s current focus. As the available datasets grow, and as practitioners and service providers invest in the design and build of new use cases, the ability of AI systems to accumulate, organize, summarize, extract, and pattern-sift information will augment how lawyers come to form their judgments and the tools available for persuasion. For example:
AI Case Use
- Identify the client’s most commonly negotiated final contract positions for a particular business line over the last X number of years. Compare with client’s current playbook, and update playbook positions accordingly.
- Create a standardized methodology for measuring and analyzing client escalations, considering type/category, business line, region, organizational level of origin, response delay, and other relevant factors.
- Analyze service-level agreement (SLA) financial penalties credited to clients over the last X number of years, categorizing by service line, region, length of client tenure, and other relevant factors. Cross-reference contract profile (deal value, margin, length of time for the opportunity pursuit, and nature of pursuit—e.g., RFP, direct approach).
AI Case Use
- Condense a ten-page advice note into an executive summary of five paragraphs, using non-legalistic language and focusing on impact upon the client’s business.
- Create two heat maps to share with a counterparty in negotiations: the first highlighting the current biggest gaps between the negotiating parties in the main contract terms, the second identifying the most common areas of commercial dispute between customers and suppliers in the relevant sector, according to available data.
Note: this type of analysis will likely support the work of World Commerce & Contracting in identifying the gap between most negotiated terms and the contractual areas most frequently disputed in practice. The analysis might then help to persuade the two sides to be pragmatic on the former and free up time to pay close attention to the latter.