DLA Piper in mid-June announced that it has partnered with Kira Systems to implement a global artificial intelligence tool for document review in the M&A due diligence process.

While M&A is the starting point for the circa 4,000-lawyer international law firm, Kira’s tech is expected to be applied across its other practice areas, with obvious contenders including capital markets, real estate and the intellectual property and technology team.

The Kira partnership is part of a wider process improvement project that began in 2013, looking at Lean Six Sigma and how to create efficiencies across the firm.

The area focussed on most heavily within that review was the due diligence process and, speaking to Legal IT Insider, chair of DLA’s U.S M&A practice Jonathan Klein said: “We really wanted to create efficiencies in our work flow and the product we were producing for clients.

“As part of that – and there were lots of parts – we evaluated the technology that could help us in that process. There’s various machine learning software out there and AI tools that are trying to do this and were potentially of interest to us.”

The evaluation, led by CIO for the Americas Don Jaycox and director of IT enterprise system, Jonathan Talbot, honed in on Kira Systems. Around nine months ago DLA started using Kira’s technology on live M&A transactions while also working ‘the old fashioned way’ to see if Kira was more efficient but also whether it missed anything picked up by the human eye.

It didn’t, and DLA signed in mid-June. Klein said: “We believe that once we get everyone trained it will work faster than a human being can work.

“Ultimately it is intended to be used globally. Initially it will be used in the U.S and the UK but the desire is to have it everywhere.”

Kira’s advanced machine learning software, which analyses and extracts key contract provisions to turn them into structured data, was developed for third-party review in due diligence and can handle standard and non-standard forms and provisions, including documents in more than 60 formats.

Klein added: “This partnership creates opportunities for us to approach clients’ fees in a more creative way. It’s clearly not a one size fits all approach but it could be that the time it takes to do diligence will go down, so the hourly cost will go down. We also expect to do more fixed fee work for due diligence projects.”

Due diligence work is an area where cost is particularly sensitive partly because of how time consuming it can be but also because it may lead to a client not going ahead with a deal and recouping their costs.

Klein said: “Yes we’re doing it to respond to client demand but we’re also trying to be ahead of the curve. We recognise that combining skill and talent with technology is where the world is going and the legal profession is no different.”

This article first appeared in the June Legal IT Insider.

See also: “The legal industry must adapt” – Clifford Chance signs up with Kira Systems