Madrid annual report 2017 Madrid_2017 - Page 8

Madrid annual report Uría Menéndez adapting AI to review contracts and do due diligence in Spanish Firm also plans to roll out the system to cover other languages, such as Portuguese, after signing contracts with two software companies Santiago Gómez Sancha Uría Menéndez is adapting artificial intelligence (AI) systems to aid the process of reviewing contracts and conducting due diligence in Spanish. Earlier this year, the firm announced it had signed contracts with two software companies – Luminance and RAVN System – to implement AI systems that would help make time-consuming tasks more efficient. “Everybody is very interested in what’s going on,” says Santiago Gómez Sancha, the firm’s systems director, who is overseeing the adoption of the new software. He continues: “With any technology, if you are the first to implement it and pass the benefit to the client, then you have a competitive advantage. When we decide to go with some new technology, we bet on it in order to gain an advantage. Today, any technological advantage is normally short-lived, but while you have it, it’s important to use it. The firm is currently addressing the relevant data protection issues and teaching the platform to understand Spanish legal documents. Gómez Sancha says: “They are now building and teaching the system and feeding it with Spanish samples,” he says. “We expect that, after the summer, we should have a comprehensive Spanish platform.” The firm will then roll out the system to cover other languages, such as Portuguese, and then “make it learn the differences and subtleties of Spanish legal language in Latin America”. Gómez Sancha says that, once the system is operational, it will free up more time for lawyers rather than threaten their livelihoods. “If we begin to reduce those more cumbersome activities fast, then we will be able to offer our lawyers more interesting activities,” he says. “Then we will have a workforce that is happier and able to do more value-added legal work and business development, as well as spending more time with clients. We believe we can then win more business.” Rise in foreign investment and growing tech sector fuelling law firm optimism Cristina Hernández Lería Growth in foreign investment and domestic M&A, as well as the growth in demand for legal services from new technology clients – such as Uber and Airbnb – means the outlook for law firms in Madrid is positive. However, despite the increase in market confidence, lawyers warn that firms cannot be too complacent, particularly with regards to retaining staff and keeping clients. “It is essential [for law firms] to treat lawyers and administrative staff well, otherwise they will have a look at what’s going on in the market and find many more opportunities than two or three years ago,” says Cristina Hernández Lería, a corporate partner at Lener. “Only if professionals feel that they are not merely company resources, but instead form part of a project, with their financial needs covered, while also being able to reconcile