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Baker McKenzie creates data and machine learning team, deepening AI partnership – Reuters

Building on a pilot partnership with an artificial intelligence company it launched last year, Baker McKenzie is upping its bet that machine learning and data-driven analytics will benefit the firm and its clients.
Baker McKenzie, which first teamed up with AI-powered platform SparkBeyond in October, is now entering into a three-year exclusive contract with the company and building a new 11-person team within the firm to leverage the technology for internal and client-facing projects, the global firm said Monday.
The firm plans to hire two co-founders to build out and lead the new team alongside London-based partner Ben Allgrove, who is Baker McKenzie’s global head of research and development. The firm said candidates for the roles – which are now open for applications – should be “steeped in legal innovation.”
“Five years ago our industry was flooded with hype about AI disruption,” Allgrove said in a statement. After five years of preparation and with improved technology, “we can now confidently take the next step in embedding machine learning in our business to create new value for our clients,” he added.
The exclusive deal falls under Baker McKenzie’s innovation arm, Reinvent, which the firm launched in conjunction with the SparkBeyond partnership in the fall, bringing together the firm’s existing innovation efforts under a single umbrella.
New-York based software company SparkBeyond’s analytics and research platforms use AI to help companies solve problems and improve operations. The eight-year-old company, which has worked with Microsoft Corp and McKinsey & Co, among others, serves the financial services, insurance, pharmaceutical and other sectors, according to its website. The company has five offices globally.
Baker McKenzie said in October that it would use the company’s platform to predict what services clients want and eventually explore client-facing collaborations.
Under the new contract, Allgrove and the team’s other co-leaders will work with SparkBeyond’s technology and a team of data scientists, data architects, data analysts and project managers on projects that would benefit from bringing together human judgment and machine learning, the firm said.
A third focus of the partnership, aside from AI-enabled services for specific client needs and internal transformation at the firm, is using technology for social impact initiatives. The first social impact project, close to completion of the first stage, relates to child detention, the firm said.
The number of law firms with technology-related business units, subsidiaries and partnerships is increasing as firms seek to improve internal processes, as well as to compete with a growing roster of alternative legal services providers and the Big Four professional services firms.
In a recent collaboration, DLA Piper and e-discovery software provider Reveal Data Corp in March launched a service to mitigate cartel risks in companies using AI.
“There is no doubt that artificial intelligence will become an even more essential part of our business going forward and now is the right time to invest in building our capabilities and skills to deploy that technology internally and externally for the benefit of our clients, our business and our communities,” Milton Cheng, Baker McKenzie’s global chair, said in a statement.
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Sara MerkenSara Merken reports on privacy and data security, as well as the business of law, including legal innovation and key players in the legal services industry. Reach her at [email protected]