BEST LEGAL Conference: Technology for Legal Practice

BEST LEGAL Conference: Technology for Legal Practice

  • Пятница, 29 сентября 2023 16:14
    • Photo: Successful Business Photo: Successful Business

    The opportunities and threats brought by artificial intelligence and language models have a significant impact on legal practice even today. However, experts predict that in just two years, their influence will be felt much more strongly, and those who are not yet working with modern technologies may become uncompetitive. The various aspects and new practices of lawyers in the context of digitalization became the main topics of the annual Best Legal Conference.

    On September 28th, during the ninth Best Legal Conference in Limassol, leaders of law firms, international business executives, modern technology experts, tech company founders, lawyers, and managers from the professional services sector gathered to discuss vital issues.

    The main topics of the event included innovations in legislation, the digitalization of the legal field, the technological evolution of the legal business, and the challenges posed by the development of technologies and the use of artificial intelligence. Additionally, speakers touched on the topic of legal regulation of AI use and the European AI Act project. The conference was organized by the business magazine "Successful Business." and supported by Imperio Group.

    Reconsideration of Cyprus Legal System

    The conference began with an address by Christos Clerides, the Chairman of the Cyprus Bar Association. He discussed the "legal renaissance" that Cyprus embarked upon at the beginning of the 21st century – a reconsideration and overhaul of the country's legal system, aimed at adapting to modern challenges. Clerides placed special emphasis on the creation of new jurisdictional structures, the establishment of the Commercial Court based on the Irish model, and the revitalization of the Admiralty Court. The latter had enjoyed significant success in the 70s and 80s but subsequently lost its prominence. One reason for this decline was the obligatory use of the Greek language. However, with amendments made to the Constitution, allowing English to be used in legal proceedings, it can potentially regain its appeal among foreign litigants. At the conclusion of his address, Dr. Clerides drew the audience's attention to two notable extradition cases from Cyprus and encouraged all lawyers, unfamiliar with this matter, to examine these cases.

    Melina Pyrgou, partner, managing director of Pyrgou Vakis Law Firm, offered an expert review of laws adopted over the last 12 months, as well as amendments and additions to the existing legislation of Cyprus related to the operation of international business. Special attention was devoted to the court reforms, introduction of new civil procedure rules, e-justice, new anti-corruption legislation, company law, changes in taxation, employment law and upcoming laws and regulations expected in 2023-2024.

    Alternative Dispute Resolution

    Subsequently, conference participants discussed how digitisation is reforming methods of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and enhancing conflict resolution processes in the digital age. The initial two panel discussions of the conference were moderated by Professor Stephanie Laulhe Shaelou, Professor of European Law and Reform, Head, School of Law, UCLan Cyprus.

    Constantinos Clerides, a partner at Phoebus and Christos Clerides & Associates LLC, elaborated on the mechanisms of ADR in Cyprus. He highlighted that the country has arbitration laws dating back to the 50s and 60s, as well as international arbitration rules for commercial disputes. The solicitor mentioned that there are several centres in Cyprus already offering support in matters of alternative dispute resolution. He also emphasised the significance of recent changes in the procedural rules of litigation in Cyprus, which encourage the use of ADR methods.

    According to Clerides, the main reasons for opting for alternative methods of dispute resolution are the need for confidentiality, especially in the IT sector, and the possibility of selecting an expert to resolve the conflict. However, the primary reason is the lengthy duration of court proceedings. "When a client comes to me and asks whether they should go to court, I tell them that hearing a case in the civil court takes about seven years at first instance and another seven years at the appellate court. It becomes clear that the initial incentive is to avoid the court due to delays. If you turn to arbitration or mediation, you will certainly get a resolution within a year, or two at most," the solicitor explained.

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    Digital Transformation of Legal Practice

    During the subsequent panel, experts shared their views on the technological evolution within the legal field. Charis Savvides, a partner at Grant Thornton, spoke about his experience in establishing a virtual law firm and their advantages over traditional law firms.

    He discussed how in today's world of AI-supported technologies, lawyers face numerous challenges. The expert cited the example of scriptwriters' strikes in the USA, who claim that ChatGPT diminishes their creativity since it can now simply generate a horror movie script. "However, in my opinion, such strikes and restrictions can't genuinely change the scenario. We are facing a new reality and need to determine how to deal with it. Remember when Skype technology emerged? Telecommunication companies didn't shut down because of it. They adapted to the new reality," the lawyer points out.

    In his view, ChatGPT and other AI technologies are nothing more than machines we ourselves fill with data. Despite the intellectual capabilities of such systems, they don't replace human creativity but serve as a tool that can complement a lawyer's professional skills.

    Christiana Aristidou, founder and CEO of Christiana Aristidou LLC, shared her vision of technology's impact on legal practice. She highlighted that the foremost change was in client expectations. Lawyers have been tasked not just with providing services but adapting to client needs in an era of rapid technological development: "They utilise contemporary technologies, engage clients in novel ways. So, if they, for instance, interact with clients via video, using biometrics, I need to be that lawyer who understands how to properly justify it, how to integrate new technologies into legal practice to cater to such a client," Aristidou believes.

    Next, conference participants discussed how digitization is reshaping methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and improving conflict resolution processes in the era of digital technologies. Two panel discussions at the beginning of the conference were moderated by the Professor of European Law and Reform, Head of the School of Law at UCLan Cyprus Stéphanie Laulhé Shaelou.

    Constantinos Clerides, a partner at the law firm Phoebus and Christos Clerides & Associates LLC, provided a detailed overview of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in Cyprus. He noted that the country has arbitration laws dating back to the 50s and 60s, as well as rules for international arbitration in commercial disputes. The lawyer mentioned that several centers in Cyprus already provide support for alternative dispute resolution. He also emphasized the importance of recent changes in procedural rules in Cyprus that encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution methods.

    According to Clerides, the main reasons for choosing ADR methods are the need for confidentiality, especially in the IT sector, and the ability to choose an expert to settle the conflict. However, the primary reason is the lengthy court proceedings. "When a client comes to me and asks whether they should go to court, I tell them that civil court proceedings take about seven years in the first instance and another seven years in the appellate court. It becomes clear that the first incentive is to avoid court due to delays. If you turn to arbitration or mediation, you will undoubtedly receive a decision within a year, at most two years," explained the lawyer.

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    (Un)safe AI

    During the next panel, Christos Christodoulou, Head of Products and Data at Epikast, and Yannis Menelaou, an expert in blockchain technology and fintech, discussed how to protect confidential information when using artificial intelligence. The experts examined the legal framework for using AI data, data ownership issues, and European regulation in the field of AI.

    Participants noted that the main focus of recent discussions on AI security is on the European Act on Artificial Intelligence, the development of which began two years ago. However, after the launch of the ChatGPT model, regulators had to review the entire document. A harmonization process recently began between the parliament, council, and commission to implement the proposed regulations as soon as possible.

    In the document, artificial intelligence models are classified according to their level of risk: unacceptable risk, high risk, and low risk. Moreover, different rules are established for generative artificial intelligence. This act will provide extensive material for those who want to classify such models and comply with established standards.

    However, experts expressed concerns about the ambiguity of the document and the presence of legal loopholes. "One of the problems is that developer companies can independently assess the risks of their AI models, which can raise many questions," noted Yannis Menelaou.

    Speakers emphasized that with the development of generative AI models and modern applications, users' awareness of their personal information is increasing. An essential aspect remains the need to ensure the security of our personal and business data to prevent unauthorized use.

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    How Artificial Intelligence Helps Lawyers

    The last panel discussion was devoted to various aspects of the application of artificial intelligence technologies in jurisprudence and business, considering the pros, cons, and future prospects. Special attention was paid by speakers to working with language models, their types, and features.

    At the very beginning of the panel, George Larkou, co-founder and director of Impact Tech, noted that until recently, generative artificial intelligence models were perceived more as experiments than as full-fledged tools for mass application. However, this all changed thanks to the efforts of OpenAI and their product – ChatGPT. It not only showcased the amazing capabilities of modern AI but also opened up new horizons for its application in daily life.

    Now this trend is only intensifying. According to the expert, an AI co-pilot for Microsoft Windows is planned to launch next month, which will enhance the integration of artificial intelligence into daily life.

    Pavel Shynkarenko, co-founder and CEO of Solar Staff, and George Larkou highlighted the main advantages of technological development for lawyers. Today, thanks to AI, they can automatically analyze large volumes of data, engage in dialogues with virtual experts, model various legal scenarios, and quickly find similar court cases. Moreover, AI facilitates the automatic preparation of various documents, taking into account current legislative changes. All this allows lawyers to reduce time spent on routine work and focus on the key aspects of their profession, undoubtedly contributing to increased efficiency and quality of legal services.

    Nicolas Marcou, an expert in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning, head of the AI department at Electi Consulting, shared his concerns about the rapid development of technologies and their impact on the professional market: "There's a second-order problem for young lawyers. Those who haven't adapted to modern technological trends find that the routine tasks of modern law offices are taken over by artificial intelligence. What should a budding lawyer do? What is their role if routine tasks typically performed by novices are automated?

    This situation creates barriers to entering the labor market not only in jurisprudence. We haven't yet realized all the consequences of this revolutionary technology. It's time to think about how we, as a country and as professionals, will move forward."

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    The Best Legal conference became not only a place where, in just a few hours, you could get an idea of all the important changes in laws and regulations but also learn about advanced technologies and communicate with leading experts in their field. Best Legal participants thanked the organizers for the opportunity to exchange experiences and ideas.

    The organizers express their gratitude to the sponsors, speakers, and all participants of the conference. See you next year at the tenth anniversary conference, Best Legal 2024!

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    Photos: Successful Business

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