Luminance, a UK-based legaltech startup focusing on the understanding of legal documentation and analysis of its relevant information and patterns, has in the past few years become one of the biggest UK legaltech brands. The company has received £8m in funding in a both Series A and B funding (the first and second round of venture capital financing) in 2018 and 2019. One of Luminance’s leading investors and collaborators on the project is Slaughter and May. Among other firms who are publicly known to use Luminance are Bird & Bird, Penningtons Manches Cooper (source) and Deloitte Spain (source).
Women in the legaltech market
Besides offering a wide range of innovative products to law firms (highlighted further below), Luminance is notable for its female-dominant workforce.
According to a research conducted by Wired and Element AI, the AI industry is ”even less inclusive than the broader tech industry, which has its own well-known diversity problems.” This is both an issue of false conservative views that women are not suited for tech-related jobs, and the lack of interest resulting from the relatively small amount of information and opportunities that are presented to women regarding future careers in tech. Fortunately, it is safe to assume that the situation is slowly improving, and Luminance AI is a perfect example of a firm that demonstrates such a change.
Emily Foges, the CEO of Luminance between 2016 and 2020, who is now a member of the company’s advisory board and also a Lead Partner at Deloitte, was named the ‘Business Woman of the Year’ by Women in IT Excellence Awards in 2018. Emily managed to prove two things: 1) that no law or tech degree is required to pursue a successful career in either of the fields, and 2) with an executive team which is almost 70% female, that women are, just like men, equally suited to run a (legal) tech company.
Emily studied English and History of Art at the University College London between 1992-1995, and as a fun fact, is apparently an expert in Paella cooking.
Gaining over 215 clients in 47 countries worldwide in under 4 years, Luminance’s women in tech have made a real impact on the legal industryLuminance AI website
What does Luminance AI do ?
In simple terms, Luminance focuses on both supervised and unsupervised machine learning methods (explained here) to enhance efficiency regarding time-demanding legal tasks (i.e. document review). Most likely due to the CEO’s experience in the M&A sector, Luminance was first presented as an M&A due diligence tool. Over the years, however, Luminance expanded its products to focus on a variety of legal purposes.
In a survey conducted by Artificial Lawyer, asking Luminance’s clients regarding the company’s products and their usage, the most common answers to ‘what have you used the product for?‘ were:
- 1. Contract review
- 2. Due diligence (in corporate, commercial transactions, and litigation matters)
- 3. Fee proposal generating
- 4. Document classification, identification and review
How does it work?
To briefly explain the technology behind all of the above, it is important to know what Natural Language Processing aims to achieve (explained in more detail in this article). In short, Luminance AI develops and employs machine learning models which either learn according to pre-labeled data (supervised learning) or according to patterns the model itself finds (unsupervised learning) to try and understand the human language (the legal language to be specific). The focus on both supervised and unsupervised learning enables Luminance to find patterns and relations that lawyers would never find themselves. It also lets lawyers train the models according to their needs. According to the company’s own words, it is the only AI legal system to put emphasis on both supervised and unsupervised learning.
The AI models are then trained on millions of various data to be able to quickly distinguish the underlying patterns within documents and are therefore capable of pointing out errors or suggesting missing information. Given that computers are inevitably faster at sorting through its own data when compared to our computer abilities (however good they are), initiatives such as Luminance allow lawyers to drastically decrease the time spent on time-demanding tasks such as due diligence, contract drafting, or any other kind of document review
As an example, Luminance AI could help with contract drafting by suggesting clauses relevant to the contract’s theme and purpose, while also suggesting any missing clauses and uncovering hidden risks within the document. It also compares drafted clauses with clauses existing within similar contracts and points out the feedback that other employees provided to such contracts. This is all possible due to the model which has learned to observe patterns from hundreds of thousands of contracts.
To learn more about Luminance and the news regarding the company’s practice, check out https://www.luminance.com/news.html. Below are also two very interesting videos in which Emily Foges demonstrates the use of Luminance and talks about how such technologies impact the legal field.