Explainable AI in the fuzzy world of LegalTech

March 07, 2019 by Stefan Summesberger

SEMANTiCS Industry Chair Christian Dirschl is Chief Content Architect at Wolters Kluwer Germany. His responsibilities range from content structures, metadata to taxonomies and thesauri within Wolters Kluwer Germany and beyond, where he manages text mining and automatic topical classification projects. In this interview, Christian talks about how Digital Transformation impacts customer- and partner relationships. He also gives advice for businesses on getting started with AI. Furthermore, he provides some very encouraging arguments for submitting Industry & Use Case Presentations.

Wolters Kluwer is a cornerstone when it comes to the development of LegalTech. So you are at the forefront of innovation in this field. Doing a 360-degree radar onto the field, where do you see the most promising next development?

LegalTech is a very fuzzy term, especially when it comes to technology that can and should be applied to support the daily work of a legal professional. A lot of energy is invested in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and within this area on machine learning algorithms. The main downside of this approach is that especially deep learning is a black box for developers and users. This is most unfortunate in a legal environment, where transparency and “explainability” is key for acceptance. Therefore, explainable AI will highly support the uptake and exploitation of AI within the legal domain.

Do you work on a LegalTech-Project? Submit it for the SEMANTiCS 2019 LegalTech-Track!

Wolters Kluwer has a huge global network of researchers and experts. A digital publishing house as yours is always challenged by a changing landscape. Where do you see the next disruptive force, Wolters Kluwer is preparing for?

Digitization in a global environment will enable the emergence of a data driven economy. This will have a huge impact on our business and on the business of our customers. We´re recognized and valued for helping our customers realize their potential and deliver impact when it matters most. Therefore, we offer expert solutions that combine deep domain knowledge with specialized technology, and services that help improve the productivity for our customers. The ongoing digital transformation is fundamental also for our customers, and we are addressing the opportunities and the challenges together with our customers. Therefore, close and direct customer and partner relationships are gaining more and more importance and transcend traditional supplier-buyer aspects.

From this viewpoint, are there any bits of advice you can give Law firms and legal departments out there when it comes to benefit from AI?

As with our technology-driven world in general, also legal experts need to re-focus their services in the light of customer needs in the digital age. Data, workflows and business models are evolving and requirements with respect to e.g. time, quality and transparency are gaining importance. Unfortunately, maybe apart from very large law firms, these new insights and changes cannot be achieved by the legal experts themselves, so partnerships with thought leaders like Wolters Kluwer should be sought, so that the experts can concentrate on their core business, which is developing their customer and business relationships in a mainly digital environment.

In 2018, SEMANTiCS LegalTech Track-Chair Sophie Martinetz from Future Law named three steps to implement AI in a law firm. Can you name five steps to implement AI in a small or medium-sized company?

As stated above, there is not “one” AI. There are plenty of application areas, where AI can be of help. In general, the usage of proper project management approaches can be of help. So start with analyzing your internal workflows, including roles and responsibilities. This is the most important step since it provides the prerequisite for everything that follows. If this step is incomplete, biased or manipulated, then failure is right around the corner. Then check on where you see low hanging fruit or where you spend most of your time. Then have a look at the LegalTech market and see where existing solutions could be of help. If there is nothing appropriate out there, go and find a tech partner, but make sure that you solve a generic problem, not something too specific. Finally, start the implementation phase in an agile manner, so that you can react immediately on new developments within your own company or the ecosystem you work in.

At SEMANTiCS 2019 you will be chairing the Industry & Use Case Presentations Track. Who does this call address and why should one participate in it?

We want to act as a networking event, where smart people from different industries discuss the application of semantic, i.e. smart systems. The main driver for these discussions are the presentations themselves since they show the applicability of e.g. knowledge graphs and semantic web standards-based applications in real-world operational environments. So, we expect presentations where practitioners tell their story and share their experience so that the community as a whole – including the presenter himself – can benefit from the insights discussed.

What are your expectations in this respect?

The best contributions are those, where the benefit for the business becomes transparent also for those people, who are not directly working in this industry. So the challenge is to be concrete, also with a certain technical depth, but still to remain in presenting the purpose or the added-value of the whole exercise. A combination of business goals and a short demo have proven to be the most transparent approach with most takeaways for the audience.

Any last words people who haven’t submitted yet, potential applicants facing constraints during the work on their submissions or those who still have a lot on their ToDo-Lists before the calls close in/on May 27?

We are aware of the fact that business people are very busy and that their main goal is not the dissemination of their work. Therefore, we have made the application process as lean and straightforward as possible. Once you have a clear idea of what you want to show, the application should be final within 30 minutes. In addition, the application form is simple with no registration needed. Once the talk is accepted, all we need is the final presentation, which you need to create anyway. Our main goal is to bring you on board with a minimum of effort.

Discuss the potential of LegalTech with Christian. Register for SEMANTiCS 2019!


The annual SEMANTiCS conference is the meeting place for professionals who make semantic computing work, and understand its benefits and know its limitations. Every year, SEMANTiCS attracts information managers, IT-architects, software engineers, and researchers, from organisations ranging from NPOs, universities, public administrations to the largest companies in the world. http://www.semantics.cc