Fergus Wilson, CTO at Repstor, says that the revolutionary new AI-for-everyone promises a new level of smart content services, and in the legal world it will make light work of analysis & processing incoming documentation

The buzz around Microsoft’s Project Cortex is gathering significant momentum now, between its soft launch a while back at Inspire and the further announcement around SharePoint Syntex (the first product from Project Cortex) at Ignite last week.

Project Cortex is a suite of new Microsoft AI tools, designed to analyse content created across the Microsoft 365 platform, and shared across teams and systems – to form an on-demand ‘knowledge network’ across the enterprise which is organised and updated automatically in connection with common topics.

It represents billions of Microsoft R&D investment, and brings AI to the masses – transforming how people analyse and manage content, so that it’s easier to file away, without extensive manual indexing, and – more importantly -to find on demand.

Given the huge volumes of documents legal teams have to deal with, Cortex’s arrival is exciting news. Any organisation already using the Microsoft 365 platform to create, receive, share, edit and discuss content will be able to apply AI to it and automate a substantial proportion of its processing and management – all the while teaching Cortex what to look for, what to disregard, and how they want specific topics or types of content to be handled.

Assuming & alleviating the legal admin burden

In a legal context, Cortex’s potential is vast. Professionals or administrators will be able to train the Microsoft AI content services suite to identify particular types of matter content and what’s in them; to differentiate between various kinds of contract (even if their construction varies) and recognise particular clauses.

The more teams expose Cortex to incoming content, the more reliably it will be able to sift out what’s important, too – even if it is phrased differently or exists in different sections from one document to the next. With a bit of training from the teams involved, the software will be able to extract contract value information, spot exceptional terms and conditions, or lift important extracts to create new documents or records automatically.

All of this offers to make legal teams more efficient, shifting the time spent on routine administration to value-added, billable activities.

Technology future-proofing

There is so much more to Cortex too. It promises to transform knowledge management more broadly, for instance. Applying the new Microsoft AI capabilities to all kinds of legal activity and content will make it easier for professionals to look up everyone and anything connected to a particular matter or category of work, and pinpoint exactly the expertise or information they need to move a matter forward.

Best of all, all of these capabilities are available on a platform most organisations already use daily across their different functions: Microsoft 365. Cortex isn’t an expensive new niche legal AI product that costs the earth and takes months to set up.

With Microsoft’s rich R&D resources – not to mention an industry leading set of patents on AI – behind it, Cortex is also highly futureproof: its feature-set will only grow and become more advanced over time.

Wilson has since 2012 been CTO at Repstor, which simplifies Microsoft 365 information management.

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