Luminance, an artificial intelligence technology company, recently opened its U.S. headquarters in Chicago and some law firms in the city have already signed on to use it.
Founded by researchers at the University of Cambridge in Great Britain, Luminance is a web-based technology that can read and understand legal language in contracts.
Luminance and competitors Ravn Systems, eBrevia and Chicago-based NexLP are part of a trend of using AI to handle brainwork and paperwork normally handed to the legal team.
“It’s not like robots replacing lawyers,” Luminance CEO Emily Foges said. “You need to have a lawyer on the end of this otherwise its not going to work. This is just about making the lawyer more in control of the facts, more able to do the job that they have been taught how to do. And it’s taking away the barriers for lawyers rather than replacing them.”
Josias Dewey, a partner at Holland & Knight LLP, said in a statement that these technologies enhance the due diligence process across the firm’s practice areas.
“We envision deploying it for our corporate, securities and M&A practices as well as our real estate practice and a variety of other knowledge management functions,” Dewey said in the statement. “Technologies such as Luminance are the future and we could not be more pleased to announce this deployment.”
The Chicago office is the company’s first location in the U.S. since Luminance was launched in September 2016 with headquarters in London.
“If you are a M&A lawyer conducting due diligence, there’s been so much documentation about any given corporation that you can’t really hope, as a team of human lawyers, to get to grips with all of it,” Foges said. “What Luminance does is it automatically reads and understands all of the contracts, thousands and thousands of contracts, very quickly, and then surfaces the information that you are most likely to need.”
George T. Tziahanas was named the managing director of the Chicago office. Tziahanas, a lawyer who has a background in consulting and technology firms in Chicago, said he plans to hire about 10 employees in the new office.
“It’s a good market here — there is good talent and good universities,” he said. “We’ll be hiring a lot of newer graduates and Chicago is a great place for them.”
Foges said Chicago is an attractive market for the company.
“We find our customers kind of come to us in clusters. So one firm will adopt Luminance and the others will hear about it and then they will want to adopt it too,” she said.
“One of those clusters happened in Chicago and it struck me that this is actually a good place to base ourselves in the U.S. because … we want to be positioned strategically in the U.S. so it made sense to come here,” she said.
Holland & Knight and Ice Miller LLP are Luminance’s latest clients with offices in Chicago.
“Luminance allows our team to provide our clients with the high-quality service they expect and demand from us through a more efficient platform,” said Richard Barnhart, a managing partner at Ice Miller, in a statement. “We now find things far more quickly than using manual review alone.”
Foges said the cloud technology that Luminance uses examines patterns in the language and the content inside the documents, not file names or keywords.
She said an important feature of Luminance is that the technology can identify minor anomalies among hundreds of similar contracts or documents.
“Luminance is comparing the documents and identifying that some of those documents are worded differently. And that’s probably significant and probably means that should be your priority for the reviews to look at the documents that have been drafted differently,” she said. “To spot a difference of a few words in a thousand contracts is hard for humans.”
Luminance is not the only company to employ artificial intelligence in a way that can assist lawyers.
NexLP, which stands for next generation language processing, is a company using artificial intelligence to analyze data and identify trends.
Ravn Systems and eBrevia are also two artificial intelligence platforms that seek to use technology to help law firms review and analyze large amounts of documents.
Tziahanas said the tasks that Luminance can perform might be viewed as a waste of time for lawyers or paralegals.
“There’s no reason to have a lawyer scrolling through hundreds of contracts just to find the 10 or 15 or 50 provisions that they have to review,” he said. “So they can focus their review on actual analysis of the law and an analysis of the facts and issues.”