No one enjoys being put on hold when phoning in a question to a service provider. Even worse is when the call goes to the wrong department—or to a dead end. Fortunately, callers have noticed these frustrating moments occurring less frequently. Why? Most likely because artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are doing you a favor.
That voice you’re interacting with over the phone might be Amelia, a “digital colleague” invented by IPsoft, a technology company based in New York. She is a technological creation adept at listening to consumers with questions and helping them find answers with greater efficiency. Callers are on hold a lot less frequently and for shorter periods of time because, well, Amelia can handle thousands of callers at a time. The fact that Amelia isn’t a flesh-and-blood human is far less disconcerting to most people than the past frustration of not getting answers in short order.
Jerry Levine, general counsel and corporate secretary for the multinational firm, helps illustrate how all this came to be—and quite recently, at that. He’s been with the twenty-one-year-old company for the past four years and was its first in-house counsel. That has a lot to do with company growth, but also with how IPsoft has evolved from providing remote IT infrastructure-managed services to primarily focusing on AI and cognitive and autonomic solutions for enterprises.
“We are now a product company with ancillary services,” says Levine. “We became more dependent on lawyers because everything changed, including how legal approaches contracts and customers.”
It also meant the legal staff that Levine has developed—in the US and Europe—have had to be more tech savvy in such matters as contract management. They have to be versatile in broadening their functions, curious about where it’s all going, and accepting of how regulations have trouble keeping up with the advances in technology and what it does.
The legal technology they use is ContractPodAi. The UK-based service enables a repository of legal documents that streamlines how IPsoft works out agreements with its customers.
“The search function goes beyond keywords and key terms,” says Levine. “The goal is to find documents that are related. It, too, is an AI-based recognition tool. It makes it easier to answer questions on the spot instead of turning pages.” He explains that such tools assist the sales function, leading to better understanding between parties that ultimately helps manage expectations and create stronger relationships.
“I’ve seen research that says AI will create fifteen million new jobs. We want to augment, not replace, people.”
When Levine came on board with IPsoft, in late 2015, none of these tools and structures were in place. “We were experiencing costs when problems would escalate because certain issues were not addressed up front,” he says. “Software and professional services—the direction in which the company was heading—are much more complex and create a greater need for contracts.” Levine effectively sold his peers in management on investing in more tools and, ultimately, more people.
Part of the sell was the benefits of in-house lawyers. “We got to know the business and the people,” he says. “We had to earn our position with several departments, showing how we could manage their risks even while we help them grow. We now have the business sense to manage risk with opportunity, to show our commitment to building solutions.”
That knack for problem-solving required having adaptable and versatile attorneys on staff. A staff attorney who specializes in immigration law, for example, helped write the company’s human resources policies. Levine says he often asks his attorneys to develop new skills, work with the team, and be adaptive to whatever needs come their way.
The stickier problem facing all technology companies, including those in the AI space, is dealing with lagging regulation issues. “Some of it is actually designed to slow down development,” Levine says, referencing DNA cloning in health sciences. But if the problem is broken down into components—asking if Amelia can serve as a notary on legal documents, for instance—it identifies something that can be lobbied for.
“Humans are capable of becoming comfortable with digital assistants,” he says, noting how digital signatures are becoming more common. Indeed, notarizing via AI is now legal in several states.
Levine takes a high-level perspective on what Amelia and other IPsoft products like 1Desk and IPcenter can ultimately do. “I’ve seen research that says AI will create fifteen million new jobs,” he says. “We want to augment, not replace, people.”
If that means less time on hold with customer service, we have tech-forward attorneys like Jerry Levine to thank.
Greenberg Traurig offers its heartfelt congratulations to Jerry Levine on this recognition by Modern Counsel featuring his leadership, vision, and accomplishments.