In our latest 60-second interview, PLMJ‘s managing partner Luís Miguel Pais Antunes talks to The Lawyer about innovation, AI and how having a presence in key markets is no longer sufficiently distinctive to place your firm at the forefront. Luís is one of the 30+ speakers at this year’s Business Leadership Summit in association with Propero, taking place on the 25th September.
Luis Miguel Pais Antunes
Luis Miguel Pais Antunes

How can law firms best encourage innovation? 

The trend towards becoming a tech-enabled law firm has been underway for some time and the role of a lawyer in a transaction or litigation matter has evolved greatly in the past two decades – and it continues to evolve. At PLMJ, we have focused on implementing innovation through, for example, an advanced course on artificial intelligence and law. This course served as a basis for work and debate and was aimed not only at in-house lawyers, but also specialists, experts and the curious, whether academics, scientists, lawyers, journalists or opinion makers.
What does law firm innovation really mean from the client perspective?
Technology is a means to an end, therefore, our aim in adopting AI tools is to improve the basis of our work, which is the relationship with our clients. We believe that our clients are also seeking enhanced engagement with us. They want to move beyond traditional transactional models towards a more collaborative relationship model. However, clients also still expect law firms to deliver top human talent, while making the most of technological advances. Law firms need to take charge of creating the right mix of human and machine capabilities to re-cast future relationships that benefit both provider and client.
What are the roles that will need to exist in law firms, in order for the firm to be successful?
The expansion to new markets, with a focus on the community of Portuguese language countries, is a characteristic that sets PLMJ’s network apart and is a result of our success. However, today, having a presence in key markets is not, in itself, sufficiently distinctive to place us at the forefront. Law firms have to offer something unique to stand out from all the other players in the market that are selling the same services. The successful firms will increasingly adapt to a new business model that reflects technological demands more accurately. Work processes must be more standardised and will use technology to achieve this. Standard templates for carrying out most types of work will become the norm, even in higher value work. By making better use of innovative technologies, lawyers will become more efficient and this will contribute directly to the success of a law firm.
There are some new roles being created around strategy and innovation, what changes will these bring to law firms?
Law firms have to keep up with technological developments and must have a strategic vision when it comes to knowledge. Today, we know that adapting to changes in the market and to its needs is crucial to having a sustainable business model. Against this background, the demands that arise from practising law in the current climate have led us to create and introduce internal tools for knowledge management and CRM. We are also piloting KIRA, an artificial intelligence machine learning program that will allow us to concentrate on the more complex aspects of the matters we handle. Such tools will liberate lawyers from performing many tasks that, until recently, were perceived as exclusively “legal”.
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
  • I was caught in a storm while sailing and the boat was so heavily damaged that we had to be rescued
  • I once swam with a white shark
  • I’ve been Secretary of State twice
Luís Miguel Pais Antunes is part of the 120+ managing partners, C-level executives and business services leaders gathering on the 25 September 2018 at the Business Leadership Summit in association with Propero to spend a day focusing on defining your law firm strategy in a tech-driven future. For more information on the conference, a copy of the agenda, or to inquire about attending, please contact Nathan Graham on +44(0) 20 7970 4672.