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Three Reasons to Explore AI for Conflicts Checking

By Brian Balistreri posted 02-01-2023 09:31


Please enjoy this blog posted on behalf of the author Rabiya Hirji, Solution Advisory Director, Risk Products, Intapp.

Rabiya Hirji has over 20 years in-house risk experience and six years of risk consulting experience. In her role as Solution Advisory Director at Intapp, Rabiya helps firms optimize their investments in risk and compliance technology.

In today’s hypercompetitive legal market, law firms are under even more pressure to start working with new clients as soon as possible. And the most time-consuming part of new business intake is reviewing, reporting, and clearing conflicts. As a risk consultant with years of experience, clients often ask me how they can accelerate the process while still maintaining accuracy and overall quality.

My answer is to further build out the skills of the conflicts team and embrace current technologies, one of which is artificial intelligence (AI). But the mention of AI often brings up concerns of automation taking over for human oversight and eliminating the crucial input of the law firm staff’s experience and judgment.

I understand those fears and I try to reassure my clients – AI does not assume control over what people do. It’s better to think of it as one of the many tools at a conflicts team’s disposal.

As one of many tools, AI can help firms raise the quality and depth of staffers’ work in three vital ways: by increasing their efficiency, enhancing their roles, and optimizing the firm’s overall experience in handling conflicts data.

How does AI increase efficiency? It can automate mundane processes and better organize large volumes of data quickly – data that would normally take a conflicts team days, weeks or even months to comb through. A well-trained AI conflicts system can speedily examine databases, sanctions lists, firm business rules, and flag conflicts to the team. The conflicts team and lawyers then can make more informed decisions based on a more complete data set and easily make connections between data sets. 

How does AI enhance the skill set and status of your conflicts team? For an AI system to be effective, you must have knowledgeable staff who can train and oversee the technology. In fact, the most flexible AI platforms can enable a firm to select conflicts team members from whom the AI will learn. While educating new staff can often be time-consuming, AI can also support and accelerate skills training. For example, a mature AI model captures real-life examples of conflicts that may raise red flags, and exposes the considerations that are factored into suggestions made by AI, so staff may see them as well. Human oversight to ensure AI training, reliability, and efficiency gives a firm and its lawyers an additional competitive advantage.   

Finally, how does AI enhance the effectiveness of the entire organization? It allows the conflicts team to access and process information quickly. In return, lawyers can make more informed decisions, whether it’s heading into an RFP meeting, being able to detect conflicts ahead of time, spotting risks in existing clients, or increasing certainty when taking on new business, to give a few examples. And looking ahead, the firm’s lawyers will be able to begin representations faster.