Stephanie Siu is the Director of Strategic Development / Legal Counsel, APAC, for eBrevia. In this interview with Asia Law Portal, she explains how eBrevia is harnessing AI. To help APAC region lawyers analyze and manage contracts.  She also explains her extensive legal services sector experience which guides her insight into how to help her clients. And how eBrevia’s commitment to becoming an integral component of the legal innovation ecosystem in the APAC region.

What is the story of your legal career up to this point?

Prior to joining eBrevia, I practiced as an M&A lawyer at an international law firm. Somewhere along the way I started teaching legal ethics and professional practice at The University of Law (Hong Kong). Alongside private practice, before fully transitioning into the “dark side”. That is my current position with eBrevia in legal technology and innovation!

What inspired you to work in legal technology?

As an ex M&A lawyer, I definitely spent my fair share of time ploughing through due diligence documents manually till the wee hours of the night (haha!)

But more importantly, I sensed the push for the legal industry to change and provide higher value more efficiently. And objective statistics and empirical evidence indeed confirm this.

For example, traditional law firms are changing their ways to create more valu for their clients. For e.g. creating legal innovation hubs and hiring software engineers to build tools for end clients. Or provide legal operations consultancy services.

From a client expectation perspective, Wolters Kluwer’s 2022 Future Ready Lawyer report also indicated that by 2025, over 90% organizations will require their external legal counsels to describe what technology they are using to be productive and efficient. From a cost perspective – the Singapore Ministry of Law found that in-house legal teams are increasingly in-sourcing their work.

So all in all, these all pointed to the fact that this is where the legal industry is heading. Whether we like it or not, and I wanted to be at the forefront in such exciting times!

What is eBrevia and how does it help lawyers and legal professionals?

At its simplest form, eBrevia empowers lawyers to have visibility over their contracts. Using Artificial Intelligence (machine learning and natural language processing), eBrevia is able to extract key legal terms on a conceptual level. And present them into concise, structured and actionable format.

As a lawyer, I see eBrevia to be helpful to lawyers in 3 main ways:

  1. Complexity of the legal language – the legal profession is a text-heavy and linguistically nuanced one. As simple as a non-disclosure agreement, the same clause can be drafted in so many different ways. It makes it time-consuming and difficult for lawyers to review. And eBrevia’s AI is helpful as it can help lawyers look past differences in formatting/drafting styles. And review on a meaning, contextual level.

  2. Volume – lawyers deal with high volumes of contracts day in or day out. For example, a due diligence review can involve hundreds to thousands of documents. A manual review can take weeks and will be very costly. And eBrevia helps lawyer do the first layer of review. And lawyers can then come in to use the freed-up time to double-check and do other higher-value work.

  3. Corporate Governance & Risk Management – EBrevia’s AI also allows lawyers to quickly retrieve granular data. And present it into a structured format. This allows legal teams to track underlying obligations much more easily. And have visibility over what’s contained inside their organization’s contracts – which is essential from a risk perspective.

What are your responsibilities as director of eBrevia in APAC?

As the Director of Strategic Growth & Partnership and Legal Counsel of eBrevia APAC, I have my fingers “dipped” in a bit of everything!

This includes formulating our strategies in the region and overseeing the entire business cycle. It will lead the teams in business development, marketing, sales, to project management, implementation and delivery. I also work closely with my tech team on product development. For e.g. developing eBrevia so that it can review in APAC languages.

Here at eBrevia, we also strongly believe in education and exchanging ideas on legal innovation and technology – this is how we give back to the legal community. And so, I have great opportunities to work closely with law schools and law firms, guest lecture, and host related CPD sessions, which is probably one of my most favorite parts of this role!

Another exciting aspect of this role is that I also lead our local partnership efforts. One of the most exciting ones is our integration with Canon’s very own document management system to form a local end-to-end contract lifecycle management solution. We even filmed an ad on it (which is highly entertaining)!

What impact is AI having on legal services, and what are your two cents on that?

With the latest topical issue on generative AI, I think it is suffice to say that every article on the internet is reaffirming that AI is impacting the legal industry. In fact, some law firms / advisory firms have also announced that they will be incorporating generative AI in their work processes.

When it comes to AI, I think expectation management is key.

I’m sure that the skeptical lawyer inside every one of us have asked at some point – “Well…is it 100% accurate though?” The unfortunate (or fortunate) answer is, AI is not foolproof or 100% accurate (yet). If lawyers carry a mindset like that, they are bound to not find the success they are looking for with AI. So my two cents are:

  1. AI is not going to replace lawyers (yet!), but a lawyer that does not leverage on AI probably will be

  2. Reframe the conversation from human vs machine, to human vs human + machine

  3. Accuracy of machines are measurable and consistent, albeit not 100% – this means we can design human processes around it to get it to a level that lawyers are comfortable with. (Cf how do you even measure the accuracy of your tired associate who has been working manually till 4am every day the last two weeks?)

What are your future goals for the growth of eBrevia in APAC?

My goal for eBrevia is to continue our localization efforts here in APAC, and continue being an integral part of the APAC legal innovation community. Our vision is to keep on finetuning eBrevia into a tool built for, and with, the APAC legal industry in mind.

This is also why we’ve been continuously dedicating significant resources in APAC, and I can’t wait to see where we will be in a few years’ time!

Posted by Asia Law Portal

A forum for discussion of news, information & opportunity in the Asia-Pacific legal markets.

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