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Jill Wiley Wants to Help Independent Firms Grow Up With AI

An Article By: Gabrielle Orum Hernandez from Legaltech News

Artificial intelligence has captured a ton of attention from huge global law firms and corporate counsel, but smaller independent firms are still finding their footing in how machine learning and other kinds of predictive coding can aid their work.

Tucson, Arizona-based attorney Jill Wiley, the newest chairwoman of the board for global law firm alliance Meritas, is looking to get independent law firms thinking about technology innovation and artificial intelligence. Wiley, also a managing partner at southern Arizona firm Waterfall, Economids, Caldwell, Hanshaw & Villamana, has set forth a priority to establish a Meritas international task force on the use of AI.

“Using AI innovations effectively in the delivery of legal services across borders will likely differentiate the lawyers who stand out as their clients’ trusted business partners from those who cannot adequately serve their clients’ needs on a global basis,” Wiley told Legaltech News.

Legaltech News spoke with Wiley about her work ahead:

LTN: What has been your experience navigating emerging legal technology at your firm? Are there elements of those lessons you plan to bring into your work with Meritas?

Wiley: Investing in technology must be very strategic. When making choices about how to utilize and invest in technology, a law firm must deeply consider the impact of long term trends which may make current investments quickly obsolete. It is a delicate balance between embracing current technology in the short term and remaining nimble to make the necessary adjustments to infrastructure as technology continues to unfold in the long term. I will carry forward this approach to technology in my role as chair [woman] of Meritas. Meritas adds value to its member firms by identifying emerging technologies before firms make any substantial investments. This knowledge, as well as the collective experiences our members have with technology, are shared in a collaborative environment for discussion and to raise the technology IQ of all involved.


One of your first projects early on is to establish an international task force on the use of AI. Why do you think it is important to engage about AI on an international level?

Going forward, using AI innovations effectively in the delivery of legal services across borders will likely differentiate the lawyers who stand out as their clients’ trusted business partners from those who cannot adequately serve their clients’ needs on a global basis. As a result of our global membership, many of our member firms are already exploring and utilizing AI in various ways. Meritas is uniquely positioned to be a forerunner on the use of emerging AI technology to help clients solve complex problems globally.


What role do you expect AI will play in legal services moving forward?

The eventual evolution of AI will not change the fact that clients hire lawyers to help them solve complex problems and to make better strategic decisions. Finding ways to effectively use AI to provide clients with strategic advice will differentiate lawyers in the future.


How do you think that member firms can leverage the Meritas network to collaborate on technology strategy?

Through the expertise within our network and select outside experts, Meritas has been leading discussions among our membership on how to adapt and exploit AI. While firms themselves may have difficulty staying on the cutting edge of evaluating the impact of all AI technology, our affiliated firms have an advantage of being able to work collaboratively by sharing positive and negative experiences and together exploring innovative ways of using the technology. This will allow Meritas to be a leader in evaluating the application of this technology and other emerging technologies.


Meritas recently implemented new cybersecurity guidelines for member firms. How have you seen firms struggle with cybersecurity, and how do you think these guidelines are likely to assist?

Clients expect their outside legal counsel to comply with industry standard data protection practices. For individual firms, navigating all of the various aspects of cybersecurity from a global standpoint can be a daunting task. Meritas has taken action to assist our firms in this process and established 10 cybersecurity standards for which all firms must comply. In addition, we have also created best practices and compliance resources to help our member firms understand and meet the minimum cybersecurity standards.


How do you plan to keep these guidelines up to date with the needs of the cybersecurity landscape?

In this ever-changing cybersecurity landscape, we are working closely with industry experts to ensure we comply with current requirements. Our 10 standards and the resource materials we provide our member firms are reviewed regularly to make certain we are providing accurate guidance to our members, and also to give clients confidence that their experience, from a cybersecurity standpoint, is consistent across all Meritas firms.

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Article Written By: Gabrielle Orum Hernandez of Legaltech News


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