Baker McKenzie Searches for AI ‘Judgement’ Project Leaders

Global law firm, Baker McKenzie, is looking for two experts in the field of machine learning and the law to lead their legal AI project with tech company partner, Spark Beyond.

The planned hires are part of an ongoing project, that has now moved past a pilot stage, to work with Spark Beyond to analyse legal sector data to develop solutions for clients and also for internal use.

Although there’s a bit of an ‘Ooh, the mystical powers of AI’ feel about some of the Spark Beyond marketing material, at heart it’s all quite mundane and sensible: take data from companies and the market, analyse it, look for patterns, and then see if value can be generated from this.

For example, and very much grounded in reality, the company has helped businesses to study customer behaviour to find out when they might cancel services. There’s no rocket science here, as such. It’s just data crunching and behaviour modelling.

They started working with Bakers in October last year and now the firm is building a full-scale team to go further.

Artificial Lawyer asked what they had been doing up until now. The firm replied to this site: ‘The pilot was a three month project intended as a proof of concept. We tested the technology on a small number of internal Baker McKenzie use cases, using firm data and external public data sources.

‘We built machine learning models that could help us predict a variety of client needs. E.g. we built a model that can help us better predict when clients might need M&A support in a defined time period and we also used built a model that predicted how good a fit target clients might be for our platform.’

‘Having data-informed predictions like this would make our business development activities more relevant and timely. Our tests of the models showed promising accuracy against historical data. Whether we take these particular models beyond the proof of concept stage will be decided as part of the prioritisation exercise to be led by our co-founders when in post, whose remit will not only include internal use cases, but also building out client facing service lines that combine legal domain expertise, data, data science and machine learning.’

As to what comes next, the firm said in an additional statement: ‘To leverage the new platform effectively, Baker McKenzie is building out a specialist, multi-disciplinary team of 11 people. [And] we are recruiting for two co-founders to work with Ben Allgrove, Research and Development Partner, to lead this new team.

‘Successful applicants will be steeped in legal innovation and have the opportunity to work within a well-resourced, dedicated team able to call on the resources of one of the world’s largest law firms and Spark Beyond’s cutting edge technology.

‘We anticipate the roles will be of most interest to lawyers or former lawyers, but others who have extensive experience in leading innovation within the legal or other professional services industries may also be interested.’

Allgrove said in a statement: ‘We have spent the last five years preparing for the [AI] technology to mature. We have laid the infrastructure foundations, such as our enterprise data architecture, and we have built our innovation muscle and partner and client buy-in through a market leading design thinking and engagement programme.

‘It is exciting to find a partner like Spark Beyond, because we can now confidently take the next step in embedding machine learning in our business to create new value for our clients.’

And, overall the project will focus on three key domains:

  • AI-powered legal services
    Leveraging augmented analytics technologies and data science to develop and provide new services to our clients. Our aim is to deliver machine learning enabled judgement.
  • Social Impact at Scale
    Amplifying social impact initiatives with machine learning-driven research and analysis, eventually using machine learning to scale its pro bono practice in a way that cannot be achieved through human resourcing alone.
  • Internal transformation
    Incorporating data-driven insights and machine learning across the Firm’s legal and commercial operations as part of its continuing digital transformation. This will focus on developing and deploying new models to boost the insight, speed and accuracy of Baker McKenzie’s own machine learning enabled decision-making.

Is this a big deal? It’s a useful step forward, but fundamentally this is a data science and consulting project, and that’s a good thing. Some of the marketing stuff surrounding this is a little bit over the top, but that will get addressed no doubt eventually. Looking forward to seeing what tangible outputs come out of this project.

And if you are interested, here is part of the job description. Note: the roles can be based anywhere globally.

Co-Founder – New Business Venture in ML Enabled Judgement in Law

Baker McKenzie is investing in building a new capability: uniting data, science, internal and external data, machine learning and legal domain expertise to create new value for our firm, our clients and our communities. At the centre of the firm’s Reinvent Strategy, this role is at the cutting edge of innovation in the legal services industry. Enjoying the sponsorship of the Firm’s Research and Development Partner, Ben Allgrove as well as the resources of one of the world’s largest law firms (including a dedicated team and budget), you will be there from the beginning to lead the team, shape the strategy, design solutions and execute them.

Specifically, we are targeting three key objectives:

  • AI-powered legal services
  • Leveraging augmented analytics technologies and data science to develop and provide new services to our clients. Our aim is to deliver machine learning enabled judgement.
  • Social Impact at Scale
  • Amplifying social impact initiatives with machine learning-driven research and analysis.
  • Internal transformation
  • Incorporating data-driven insights and machine learning across the Firm’s legal and commercial operations as part of our continuing digital transformation. This will focus on developing and deploying new models to boost the insight, speed and accuracy of our own machine learning enabled decision-making.

As a Co- Founder (we anticipate the appointment of two Founders with complementary skillsets), you will initially focus on building out the team and in-house expertise required to leverage the technology, supported by our machine learning partners at SparkBeyond.

You will develop an in-depth understanding of our clients’ needs in this space, supported by our in-house design thinking team. You will lead ideation, recommend use cases to prioritise for exploration and deliver pilot projects with clients, designing the best business models in the process.

You will liaise with client Partners and Practice- and Industry Groups to develop and sell the client-facing proposition as well as shape the team’s identity and brand in the market.

We know this will take time and commitment. As such, the firm has provisioned for a 3-year runway to operationalise and deliver ROI on this new venture.

Responsibilities:

  • Develop and lead commercial strategy
  • Work with the Research and Development Partner and wider leadership to establish and grow a new machine learning and data science capability in the firm. Co-design and deliver the “start-up” strategy
  • Develop a deep understanding of relevant client needs through methodical design thinking style research; create a prioritised set of robust ideas around how we can meet those needs and generate new revenue for the firm
  • Starting with the highest priority ideas, create a set of compelling case studies via a series of pilots with clients
  • Create clear paths to revenue for some or all of the case studies/pilot projects, by designing the business models to operationalise them; implement the business models by effectively engaging and influencing stakeholders throughout
  • Work with the Service Design team to identify relevant client needs and help partners generate robust ideas on how best to fuel client solutions by leveraging data science, machine learning and the client, Firm and external data that is available.

Team leadership

  • Build and lead a passionate, multi-disciplinary team, nurturing a united team dynamic that fully leverages geographic and skills diversity
  • Develop the team to be high performing by finding the right approach to talent management, e.g. recruitment, coaching, training and reward
  • Integrate the new team into the Firm, scaling the benefits of new skillsets by promoting the core team internally and e.g. cascading self-service tools
  • Operational project leadership
  • Get hands on with projects, leading multiple parallel client engagements in collaboration with relationship partners
  • Contribute to robust and effective governance through regular reporting to and engagement with the Reinvent Board, the EC and others
  • Identify and spotlight key institutional barriers early and flag to relevant leadership to remove or mitigate them. 
  • Internal and external relationship management
  • Develop strong relationships with BM partners and clients and become a trusted advisor to the relationship team
  • Drive our relationships with key partners, like SparkBeyond, and other vendors to maximise value

Skills and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree; MBA an advantage
  • Significant demonstrable prior experience of successfully implementing business strategy at the C-Suite level in a professional services environment
  • Experience in developing revenue-generating service lines, ideally incorporating technology-led solutions
  • Track record of successful project design and delivery combining strategic thinking with ability to operationalise
  • Excellent stakeholder influence, diplomacy, challenge and management skills
  • Experience influencing successfully in a partnership, and leading change in a matrixed environment
  • Deep analytical capabilities and comfort in managing complex data sets and systems to build strategic insight solutions
  • Actively open to new and creative ways of working and able to thrive during change
  • Intellectually agile, results oriented, self-motivated and resilient
  • Clear and persuasive communicator, strong storyteller
  • Strong team player, charismatic people leader
  • Entrepreneurial mindset and experience
  • Legal domain expertise (ideally a qualified lawyer but could have extensive experience with a Legal Services Provider) is essential
  • Leadership Requirements / Team Qualities:

 Core Competencies

  • Legal industry expertise – good knowledge of corporate client needs, strategy, operations and management
  • Law Firm investments/functions – familiarity with Law Firm growth aspects, including but not limited to markets, talent management, financials, client services/engagement, and technology (legal and beyond)
  • Consulting
  • Project management – ability to decipher, analyse and execute projects in a meaningful way
  • Creative problem solving – healthy creativity in solving for issues and roadblocks
  • Thinking ‘outside the box’ – ideas-oriented, with a knack for ‘innovative’ thinking

Functional/Technical Knowledge:

  • Functions – knowledge of all functional teams within Professional and Business Services, including Business Development, Marketing and Communications,, Talent Management, Finance, Knowledge Management, IT and other sub-units
  • Technical – familiarity with our technical infrastructure and ability to apply existing/new angles to approach within our overall framework
  • Institutional Knowledge + Stakeholder Relationships (for internal candidates only)
  • Firm – Baker knowledge including infrastructure and culture, historical growth strategies, existing programs/systems etc.
  • Offices/Teams/People – how we operate, function and communicate overall
  • Key relationships – has worked with various key stakeholders in regions, alliances, PG/IG and functions
  • Territorialism – ability to break down territorialism issues in offices, functions, practices and various services
  • Diplomatic Persona Diplomacy – possesses a diplomatic persona with the ability to work/align with various lead attorneys/PBS emp

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