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Member Spotlight: Martin Beveridge, Senior Associate, CMS March 01, 2019

Can you tell us how you ended up specialising in Technology and Media for CMS.

I started training at D&W (now merged with CMS) 12 years ago and never left. I qualified as a projects lawyer just as the recession was starting to bite. Lots of public and infrastructure projects were being cancelled or going on hold so I made a tactical switch into technology, which has always been an interest of mine. The global economy led me to this job and the satisfaction of working with smart, imaginative people has kept me here. 

What are some of the key ways in which emerging technology, particularly AI, will affect the legal industry over the next few years?

The honest answer (and the exciting thing) is that no one really knows!  Our core role of analysing legal situations and offering advice and solutions won’t change- but how we deliver those services does. Some of that is about the tech: new tools on the market, specifically created for lawyers, can help with analysing large amounts of legal documents and evidence, more effective collaboration, transactions, legal projects and workflow management. In the AI space there are some really smart applications that use machine learning to automatically analyse large suites of contracts and (with a the right level of human guidance up front) provide a view on the risk profile. 

Have you begun using any of this technology at CMS?

We’re using lots of these tools at CMS to work more efficiently. There’s also the possibility (and some firms have already done this) that law firms could develop their own AI products and platforms, working with developers to create solutions that are tailored to clients’ needs. We’ve just launched our CMS By Design initiative, which is all about helping clients and in-house counsel to embrace innovation, including emerging technologies. It’s an exciting time to be a tech lawyer!

Have you come across any issues/obstacles in particular with regard to the rapid growth rate of this new technology- and its application within the legal industry?

The biggest issue will be regulation. Particularly, how will regulation and regulators keep up with the challenges presented by emerging technology without discouraging progress and adoption. In heavily-regulated areas such as financial services and healthcare, we find that clients are understandably nervous about adopting new technologies where there is a risk of falling foul of regulatory requirements. 

I understand that Data Protection is a key area of expertise for you- how will the current Brexit agreement change the scope of DP going into 2019?

The UK will adopt GDPR into domestic law, so the same legal framework will continue to apply. However the UK will cease to be member state of the EU and therefore a “third country” as far as data transfers into the UK from the EU are concerned. How that is dealt with really hinges on whether we can get a withdrawal deal ratified. If we can, there will be a transition period during which the EU rules will continue to apply, during which UK will seek to secure a finding of “adequacy” in the same way as Switzerland or Israel does. If there is the real prospect of a no-deal Brexit UK-based organisations which receive data from the EU will want to put in place model clauses now. 

What would be your advice to large organisations, with regard to data privacy and freedom of information in 2019?

Putting aside the uncertainty of the UK’s status as a third country, it is clear that the GDPR rules will continue to apply in the UK post-Brexit.  The GDPR enshrines a principle of “privacy by design”. This means that data controllers need to build in considerations around the privacy, integrity and security of data subjects’ information into their operations. Most large organisations will by now have experienced and sophisticated data protection officers. It’s important these guys are in on the ground floor when the business is looking to develop/ adopt new solutions that use personal data. 

How does being a member of the Digital Leadership Forum help you with your role as a TMT Lawyer?

Every time I’m at an DLF event I learn something! I love hearing what is happening in the market place, especially the challenges and opportunities faced by businesses: if I know what is worrying or exciting my clients, the better I can help.

Written by Ajay Gnanam, Events & Customer Success Executive, Digital Leadership Forum

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