The New Law Journal recently wrote about the impact of regulatory and technological advances on the UK’s litigation market. The article also looked at the future and well-being of litigators, and at what firms should be doing to ensure their teams are diverse and inclusive. Natalie Osafo, a senior associate in our Commercial Litigation team, spoke to the New Law Journal to give her views on these topics.

The article looked at a number of issues affecting the litigation market including the impact of Brexit, judicial retention and engagement, costs, digitalisation and legal tech social mobility and the next generation of litigators. Natalie commented on digitalisation and legal tech, as well as social mobility.


Digitalisation and legal tech

The article states:

“Predictive coding and other artificial intelligence-based technology are rapidly becoming the norm for the disclosure process, says Natalie Osafo, Junior LSLA President and a senior associate at Stewarts.

“‘The question now is how best to deploy it in the litigation process,’ she says. She points out that the Disclosure Pilot Scheme (DPS) for the Business and Property Courts (BPC) encourages litigants to consider using technology assisted review (TAR) for cases involving in excess of 50,000 documents. If they choose not to, they will have to explain their decision to the court.

“‘We have not reached a stage where AI is able to make substantive decisions or complex judgment calls in litigation without human input,’ she says, ‘and the outputs still need to be checked by lawyers. But the role of technology is not to make decisions for humans, but rather to make it easier for the decisions to be made by humans in cases involving gargantuan volumes of data.’

Natalie is also quoted as saying:

“… new eDisclosure platforms are also emerging which go beyond predictive coding and purport to leverage machine learning to identify relevant/irrelevant or privileged/not privileged documents much faster.”


Social mobility

On social mobility, the article continues:

“Diversity is discussed and demanded in the legal sector more than in previous years, says Osafo. Clients are now asking about the diversity of legal teams in their law firm tender processes.

“‘Diversity matters because London needs a legal community which reflects and understands the dynamic international market that it serves,’ she says, pointing to the increasingly global profile of litigation.

“Progress has been made, she says. ‘Diversity has, to some degree, got its foot in the door, but it is stuck in the middle of the legal profession. Solicitors Regulation Authority statistics show that only 24% of partners working in the litigation/ADR sector are from non-white backgrounds versus 76% white partners and 31% were female versus 69% of male partners.

“‘The critical questions for the legal sector are: how do we retain diverse talent? And how do we elevate it to where it will have the greatest impact and add value?’

“Significant steps are being taken, she says, including removing structural barriers and biases by introducing working from home and other agile working policies, enhanced paternity rights and shared parental leave.

“Reducing the scope for biases in key decision-making processes such as recruitment, work-allocation and partnership promotions, is also critical, she adds. Some firms are allocating work to associates through ‘blind allocation’ based solely on an associate’s capacity, or by engaging external experts/specialists in the process.”

The full article can be read in New Law Journal.



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