My Virtual Internship: Part 4

Upon reflection…

As I am now halfway through the programme, I think that it is time for a brief moment of reflection.

The virtual internship has been incredibly rewarding. My legal knowledge has come on leaps and bounds since starting the programme, and I have learnt a great deal about Linklaters as a firm and the work they do. As fruitful as my journey has been, it has definitely not been easy. Here are a few lessons that this experience has taught me so far.

Learning Curve 1: It is OK to take your time when editing your work.

Each module recommends an approximate time limit that you should complete the task in. However, do not panic and assume that this is the time limit that you must complete the task in. The aim of the internship is to improve your legal skills and understanding of the law – this cannot be done in the blink of an eye. In fact, I spent the most time on Module 1 than any of the other tasks – I gave myself two days to research the information that I needed for my slideshow before I actually began creating it. I felt that doing so gave me the chance to fully acquaint myself with the scenario and produce a higher quality powerpoint. Of course, a Magic Circle lawyer may not have as much time as myself to do this task, but the great part about this internship is that you are allowed to do Magic Circle level work without the Magic Circle deadlines.

Whilst the programme expects you to imitate the life of a lawyer at Linklaters, it is not expecting you to instantly produce perfect results – this is why you are allowed to compare your work to a model example and amend it as many times as you wish. By all means, this does not give you the green light to rush through the tasks just so that you can boast about them on your CV! However, the internship is built for you to make mistakes…and more importantly, learn from them. Practice makes perfect!

Learning Curve 2: Much of my research was unnecessary.

The simple mistake of overthinking the premise of an assignment (Module 2, I am looking at you!) led me to research bounds of information that was barely relevant to the task at hand. However, even such a simple mistake can still form a great lesson! For example, if I hadn’t misinterpreted my task in Module 2 then I still would have had no idea about the FCA’s Regulatory Sandbox. The best part is that you never know when this knowledge may come in handy! To those that do not know what the Sandbox is, I suggest you search it – it’s very interesting! See question 3.3 for more information.

From now onwards, I will leave links for the resources that I used when conducting my research to help you learn what you need to know to complete the tasks successfully. Module 4 is the perfect starting point!

Module 4:

This task is all about Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is a topic that is becoming increasingly popular in the news for both good and bad reasons. Ever heard of claims that robots will be taking over our jobs soon? Yes, AI is partially to blame for that.

Forbes even has a whole section dedicated to AI news!

What is AI? In short, AI is the use of technology to imitate a human action or thought process. This is done using algorithms (a set of rules that a computer uses when solving a problem).

Where is AI used? From self-automated Tesla cars to your Netflix suggestions, AI is everywhere! However, AI is not only used for recreational purposes. As you will see in this module, AI is also becoming increasingly popular in the business and legal world.

The Task:

You have two tasks:

  1. Proof-read the sample NDA. Highlight and correct any inconsistencies/errors etc; and
  2. Make suggestions as to which of the above errors can or cannot be identified by AI.

The first task is relatively straightforward. All you need is the eagle eye of a Magic Circle lawyer and good spelling and grammar skills. It is important to keep in mind that the majority of contract dispute claims are caused by two main reasons: poor drafting and breach of contract. Often the two go together; if a contract contains any hint of ambiguity or uncertainty in its clauses, then this runs the risk of a party interpreting it to its advantage and breaching its contractual obligations. Sometimes, this may not be that big of an issue. However, in some cases poor drafting can cause devastating outcomes. As a lawyer, it is your job to scrutinise each and every word in the contract to minimise the likelihood of this happening. Here is an example of the effects of a poorly drafted contract.

The latter task is where your knowledge of AI is really put to the test. To complete the task successfully, you must not only have a general understanding of AI, but also be aware of how it is used in the legal world. Below, is a useful lecture explaining the basics of AI and how it is used by legal professionals.

Lecture conducted by Harry Surden (Associate Professor of Law, University of Colorado).

The second task also requires good logical reasoning skills. At each mistake you find, you should be asking yourself if a machine could be capable of identifying and correcting this. For example, if you find a spelling mistake in the sample NDA document then it is highly probable that a machine would also be able to find and correct this mistake. Why? Because AI is used in spell check software.

Now, let’s say that the NDA contained an error regarding a point of fact (eg; a party name). Would a machine be able to find and correct this mistake? Probably not. This is due to the fact that while AI is capable of reading data, it does not necessarily know what it is reading. In fact, it doesn’t need to! The aim of the machine is to find patterns in the data and make decisions based on the patterns that it has found. If there is no pattern, then the machine will most likely ignore it (unless it has been deliberately instructed otherwise).

Further information:

As I mentioned previously, AI is currently a very hot topic in the news. If you wish to find out more about AI and the effect that it has had on the legal sphere, then here are a few articles that I strongly recommend you to take a look at:

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