The Orange Rag Newsletter is Here!

So, Clifford Chance has set the cat among the pigeons with its announcement that it is rolling out Copilot and Viva Suite to its 7,000+ employees. After a number of law firm Copilot pilots this was, of course, going to happen at some point. But Clifford Chance’s decision to deploy at this scale is faster than anyone had imagined. 

The first thing that people are likely to tell you is how much Copilot will cost the magic circle law firm. If Clifford Chance has paid the headline $30 per use per month, it will add circa $2.7m a year onto their annual tech costs (these are real back of a napkin sums.)  

The riposte is that Clifford Chance is saving its fee-earners time that will, in measured monetary terms, far exceed the cost. The types of tasks that Copilot is being used for currently include meeting and task management, drafting emails and inbox management. That will extend in time. 

There is fear in some quarters of the industry that this move by Clifford Chance will start a snowball effect. One tech head at a UK law firm told me: “Now all the partners are going to be asking why we haven’t also signed up to Copilot,” adding, “No-one is thinking in detail about what are the use cases and will Copilot work for that or is there a better alternative? People are saying Copilot is amazing because it summarises things but that isn’t a Copilot use case, that is GPT4.” 

In other quarters, there is praise, and leading legal strategic adviser Justin North, founder of Pickering Pearce, told me: “This is way more than the innovation and bandwagon jumping, headline grabbing activities that we have seen at some firms. Clifford Chance are very thoughtful and deliberate about their AI strategy, and it shows.” 

Whichever side of the fence you are on, there is no doubt that this is a big milestone for the industry.