The final day of ILTACON opened with a company update from Rawia Ashraf, vice president of Product Management, Thomson Reuters. Ashraf discussed how Thomson Reuters is shaping and responding to industry trends – including the uptick in legal tech spend, AI-driven products and hybrid workforces – as well as the organization’s transition from a content provider to a content-driven technology company.

Legal Current had the opportunity to talk with Ashraf after her presentation, and below is a recap of the conversation.

Legal Current: We’re seeing an uptick in legal tech spend among large law firms, even as firms cut expenses in other areas. What are you hearing from customers are the most compelling reasons for embracing technology?

Ashraf: We’re seeing a number of factors influence the embrace of technology. Legal tech spend has been growing steadily but has grown even more so in 2021 as law firms rebound from the pandemic. The nature of remote work necessitates more legal technology to enable communication and collaboration. We’re also seeing law firms reduce their real estate and overhead spend, and invest more money in technology solutions. But ultimately, the main reason we see more customers embrace technology in their practices is their desire to provide better and more efficient service to their clients. Of course, the challenge with legal tech is getting the adoption at scale to drive meaningful change for a practice group or a law firm.

LC: Thomson Reuters leaders are talking about transitioning from a content provider to a content-driven technology company. What are the four pillars behind this strategy?

Ashraf: Our strategy to move from a content provider to a content-driven technology company is rooted in our belief that we can help lawyers get more out of our market-leading content if we power it with technology. For example, our recent launch of Practical Law Dynamic Tool Set helps Practical Law users leverage AI and dynamic graphical navigation to work more efficiently, look at matters more comprehensively and be more confident in their work. The four pillars animating this strategy are: 1) leveraging our unique content, 2) continuing to evolve our world-class AI capabilities, 3) investing in best-in-breed software, and 4) maximizing the power of native cloud capabilities.

LC: As law firms and businesses make decisions about remote-work policies, what are lawyers saying they like – and dislike – about the hybrid workforce, and how are Thomson Reuters solutions supporting legal professionals’ hybrid work needs?

Ashraf: We’re still learning a lot about what lawyers and clients expect in this new hybrid work environment. There are clear benefits for a lot of lawyers, particularly women and minorities, in being able to work from home and attend to other aspects of their lives while still delivering top-of-the-line service to their clients. At the same time, there are some real advantages in meeting your colleagues and clients face to face and harnessing that ineffable “thing” about being in person. As the future of work develops, Thomson Reuters will support our clients however they choose to organize their work environments.

LC: Legal professionals are increasingly interested in using integrated systems across the legal ecosystem. What do lawyers find most valuable in working in integrated platforms, and how is Thomson Reuters moving towards becoming a collaboration hub?

Ashraf: Lawyers want tools that help them get the job done without introducing complexity or wasting time. Wanting legal tech solutions from various providers, or even from the same provider, to be integrated and seamless to use together stems from that desire. Thomson Reuters is focused on providing that to our customers. From the countless third-party integrations into HighQ; our strong partnership with Microsoft; and our launch of Legal Home, an integrated access point for Thomson Reuters and third-party tools, we are committed to helping our customers get their work done.

LC: Thomson Reuters has provided AI-driven products for legal professionals for decades. How is the company investing in AI, and what are some legal uses cases where AI can assist?

Ashraf: AI has been an important part of our products since the early ‘90s and continues to be. Thomson Reuters is particularly advantaged when it comes to AI-powered applications because we have the three core components: data, subject matter expertise and technology in our DNA. We are investing in research and product development around natural language processing, information retrieval and machine learning. Our use cases are focused around simplifying lawyers’ workflows, automating time-consuming tasks, and providing new insights and analysis. We leverage AI in multiple areas, including legal research, contract analysis and spend management.

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