Slaughter and May is the latest firm to turn to artificial intelligence (AI) in document analysis, piloting technology that has been ‘trained to think like a lawyer’ for due diligence matters.

The magic circle firm announced today that it has been testing software from Cambridge company Luminance on merger and acquisition matters.

The software is claimed to be able to automatically read and understand hundreds of pages of detailed and complex legal documents every minute. 

Slaughter and May senior partner Stephen Cooke (pictured) said: ‘The legal due diligence process is ripe for the revolution that AI offers. Luminance is an exciting development in this key area of legal process innovation.’

Luminance was founded by lawyers, M&A experts and mathematicians. Its technology is based on research and development at the University of Cambridge. It is based on a mathematical technique for estimating probability called recursive Bayesian estimation theory. 

Luminance chief executive Emily Foges said the technology had been trained to think like a lawyer.

‘With Slaughter and May’s help, we are designing the system to understand how lawyers think, and to draw out key findings without the need to be told what to look for,’ she added.

‘This will transform document analysis and enhance the entire transaction process for law firms and their clients. Highly trained lawyers who would otherwise be scanning through thousands of pages of repetitive documents can spend more of their time analysing the findings and negotiating the terms of the deal.’

Slaughter and May has piloted Luminance purely on M&A matters. But a spokesperson told the Gazette that it may be used in other areas in the future – possibly litigation.

Earlier this month international firm Reed Smith said it expected to make greater use of AI for transactional work following a successful pilot in its London office.

Although figures such as Mark Edwards, vice-president of technology-enabled legal brand Rocket Lawyer UK, have sought to reassure lawyers that their roles will not be taken over by robots, a Law Society conference heard in June that computer programs can already match judges in decision-making.