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Patricia Ulian, Archer Daniels Midland Brazil

Summary

Ulian explains the importance of connectivity in tomorrow's business world and discusses the practical implications for a profession in which everyone is increasingly linked to one another via advancing technology.


I joined ADM a year and a half ago, and in the past year we've invested a lot in technology. I myself am a person that really thinks that technology is important, because you really can replace operational work that I think is not a priority for senior lawyers - I try to prioritise the strategic issues and benchmarking, in order to check the other companies and really understand what we have in the market. I try to improve and, if this is the case, we invest externally.

ADM Brazil invests a lot in technology, we're upfront: we know what works and what doesn't. When we see something working, we can adopt that solution to what we also do in the future. But, in order to do this, we need to gather the necessary data to take such decisions. And, looking at information necessary to take those decisions, law firms are able to provide information in a better way and in a better form - things like graphics - and some law firms are able to provide us this information, so that we don't need to do the work, which I consider to be operational, to get this information ourselves. And, it's on information like that we can take decisions. That's the point.

It's never easy to get budget. It's super difficult: you have to put a business case forward and prove why you need to bring that technology to the company, and make some sort of trade-off - this need not be in monetary terms, it could be efficiency. You need to show how valuable the technology is that you're investing in. If you're a big, global company you also need to prove that this technology is in accordance with the entire IT project globally. Not just in terms of local security - because what you are doing on a local level can interfere in security - but, you need to understand that everybody has to approve. Being practical in this way can bring a lot in for the company.

At ADM, we have control technology which allows us to control the litigation cases. The technology we use was acquired in the market but specifically customised to our needs. We have a massive litigation area here, so that technology helps us get the information we need. I wouldn't call it AI because it's not done alone, but it does allow us to use that information gathered for practice or for analysis. With this, we can see how many cases we're winning, how many we've lost, how much money we're going to lose and how many cases we've received. For example, if we focus on labour pay and want to see why we have so many of these labour cases, you can detect that through our technology, and then this allows legal to brief and train the business to be aware of the current legislation and to be able to reduce these problems in the future. We can do this in relation to any problem. If we see that our consumers have a specific problem in a particular region, then we can make sure we avoid the same problem in the future. It's a useful strategy to have in legal.

Brazil is very advanced in terms of technology and has very sophisticated solutions concerning IT because of all the investment here. Being a super big and democratic nation, we have a lot of legal work and technology here. But, Latin America consists of many nations. For example, you've got both Mexico and Bolivia - these are two totally different countries with different levels of development. When you think of Mexico, there are many differences in culture, and you must also consider the dependency on the US. You also have Brazil, which speaks Portuguese, whilst all other Latin American nations speak Spanish. You have many differences, but Brazil is a pioneer in this area compared to other Latin American countries.

I think that AI is revolutionary for in-house teams. I think that AI, or something related to AI, will create more connections than ever. I think the future is about AI and connection, because as much as we can be connected now, we cannot connect things and people - AI helps with this. When you can make out as many links as you can between people and information - for example, you can now make a complete profile on and of anyone. Before I meet someone, I can go into a web link, see their profile and other information about them - everything - even their personal life: whether they're married, have kids, where they live and what they like and dislike. This is powerful because I can have a conversation with them and convince them of something, because, essentially, I know them now. Giving a simple example, if you have LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram, I now know you. So I will know how to process our conversation in a way that I can convince you of something. We can see this when purchasing items on Amazon: when you buy a product, Amazon offers you other related products. This is embryonic and I think the future will be more like that. The more connected we are with information, the more connected we are with people.

AI and technology will not replace lawyers, but it will replace lawyers who don't use technology. By nature, I think technology and information will become more global. So, I think privacy will become a big problem because everyone will know everything about you, and you won't be able to have a little bit of privacy. Most of the available information is free right now, because it's so easy to get this information. What was valuable in the past is not valuable in the future - like information. In the future, you need to be more strategic and use that to your advantage. I think the future is about AI and connecting us to as much information as possible.


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