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International law firm Taylor Wessing is implementing artificial intelligence (AI) across the organisation and wants to ensure staff have the necessary skills to make the most of the technology.
Businesses have identified a serious AI skills gap, which 69% of enterprises have described as “moderate, major or extreme” due to the difficulty involved in finding skilled people to staff their new AI-driven business models.
According to Kevin Harris, IT director at Taylor Wessing, AI has the potential to greatly reduce the time lawyers spend reviewing documents, many of which can be hundreds of pages long and filled with technical legal jargon.
“We are using [AI] quite extensively in looking at things like lease reviews. We’ve got large document stores where there’s a myriad of quite complex legal terms and the AI is really helping us sort those legal terms out,” he said.
“What it’s doing for us is making things more efficient and making us quicker in service times, but it’s also really accurate, so we’re finding AI to be a good quality check as well.”
The law firm is using an AI platform from Rainbird, which is also providing a formal certification programme that leads to a three-stage artificial intelligence qualification, in an effort to upskill Taylor Wessing’s employees and embrace technological change in a positive way.
The training will allow Taylor Wessing to develop AI-powered business solutions using its employees’ new-found expertise.
“Anyone new joining the legal profession probably has some exposure to AI already as all the training establishments and universities are talking about it, but anyone who’s been here more than 4 or 5 years has never had any education on it. This gives us a way where those who haven’t gone through a modern degree programme can get exposure to at least a level of knowledge,” said Harris.
He said the programme was particularly valuable for Taylor Wessing’s technologists because it gives them certification.
“In technology there isn’t that much around certification – Microsoft do some stuff, but actually where you’ve got something with massive impact like AI, it’s really valuable to realise you need to take it seriously and understand it. For me, as an IT director, that’s what’s important,” he added.
However, the certification programme can benefit ordinary employees too, not just an organisation’s technologists.
“A big thing in attitude and adoption of AI tools is getting the people on the front lines comfortable and understanding how it works,” said Harris. “There is still a bit of nervousness, but this sort of programme can really help some of our legal practitioners, as well as some of our technical folk.
“We are looking at AI for all kinds of things, from time recording to reporting, but essentially we’re talking about a legal technology and how we can use AI to supplement and augment lawyers and their knowledge. This isn’t something we can do separately from lawyers, it’s about supporting them in their use of AI.”
Harris said he expects 40 to 50 people to complete the first stage of the programme, with a couple of dozen more moving through the higher tiers to build business-ready solutions.
Agnostic programme for AI
The programme, however, is not limited to customers from the legal sector, and has been purposefully designed to cover AI technology more broadly rather than just the Rainbird platform itself.
“In terms of our focus, we do a lot of work in financial and legal services and those kind of quite regulated spaces,” said Ben Taylor, Rainbird’s CEO. “But our technology is sector and use case agnostic, it can be used for anything from designing healthcare programmes to underwriting and insurance, so we wanted to build an AI training program that didn’t focus on any one particular sector.”
The programme is structured into three stages of learning, starting broadly and becoming more refined and tailored as a student progresses through each.
The first stage is the Foundation Certificate, which as an entry-level qualification aims to give users a basic knowledge of how AI works and its potential uses. This is then followed by the Professional Certificate and the Architect Certificate.
“In terms of why this particular foundation curriculum has been kept quite broad, we thought it was important that people, to really benefit from the technology, understand where it sits in the context of everything else that’s going on,” said Taylor.
“There’s a lot of noise in this market and what we’re trying to do is cut through some of that noise and explain what AI really is and where the applications for the technologies really are – whether that’s Rainbird or something else.”
Taylor added that this particular structure came from working with clients to understand what successful AI implementation looks like.
“Looking at how you build on skills to maximise the chances of success, what we found was that you need to have a broad number of people who understand the stakes,” he said.
“So imagine you’ve trained a team of 20 people to foundation level, you might take 10 people through professional level who are all going to work together to build something, but are then able to talk about what they built with the wider group because everybody’s been trained at a foundation level.”
In terms of getting on the programme, a customer will usually require sponsorship from an organisation, something Taylor believes is important because it gives the course a more practical edge focused on “building real solutions to real problems”.
“The more people who are formally qualified in the foundations and principles of human-down AI development whose expertise, knowledge and judgement processes we’re trying to replicate, the more opportunity there is to make automated decision-making use cases smarter and customer experiences smoother,” said James Duez, executive chairman at Rainbird.
“With this training, customers can quickly become self-sufficient and empowered to explore different automation use cases across their business.”
So far, 243 people have been through the programme, receiving at least the foundation-level training.
Rainbird have also expressed interest in partnering with universities and other research organisations, particularly at the lowest foundational level, to teach ordinary students the basics of AI technology, although nothing concrete has been laid out as of yet.
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