Posts

Multiple wins for Pinsent Masons at China Business Law Awards

International law firm Pinsent Masons has won in three categories and two Belt and Road Deal of the Year awards at China Business Law Journal’s annual awards.

The categories the firm won for were:

  • Construction & Infrastructure
  • Education
  • Industrials & Manufacturing

Helena Chen, Joint Head of China said, “We are extremely proud to have received this recognition – which demonstrates the strength of our legal expertise in the Chinese market. We’ve been offering a complete range of legal advisory services to clients for more than 37 years, supporting businesses in both international and domestic operations. These awards reflect this, as well as our market leading position.”

Wei Liu, Head of China Corporate team said, “We have many long-term clients in these sectors, showing the trust they have in us and the services we provide. We are very delighted to be recognized in such a wide breadth of specialities.”

China Business Law Journal’s annual China Business Law Awards are judged on a number of criteria, including nominations received from in-house counsel and other qualified observers.

Pinsent Masons has also received two “Deal of the Year – Belt and Road” awards by China Business Law Journal for its work on the Greece MINOS 50 megawatts concentrated solar power project, and a Nigerian railway and port project.

Mark Hu, partner of Beijing office and the lead partner of the two winning projects, said, “We are thrilled to win the Belt and Road Deal of the Year awards again this year. We have been supporting Chinese clients on their outbound investments in Belt and Road countries since the inception of the initiative. We provide a chain of services throughout the life cycle of projects, including the investment, contracts, project development and financing, disputes resolution, compliance, and our experience spans across infrastructure and energy sectors.”

Pinsent Masons has been operating in China since 1983, and has three offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Recent highlights in China include advising China Education Group on its AUD $128 million acquisition of King’s Own Institute, which was China Education’s first overseas acquisition, and one of the few overseas acquisitions by Chinese investors in the education sector. The team has also advised BP Ventures on its investment in R&B Tech, which was BP’s first investment in artificial intelligence (AI) technology in China.

Battle of accountants versus machines

It is hard to go a day without seeing an article or a viewpoint in the media declaring Artificial Intelligence (AI) will make certain jobs redundant – but will it be the same for those roles carried out in the finance industry?

Technological advancements are at a faster pace than ever, with computers becoming more reactive and human-like in their responses and decision-making.

In January, a round on the American television quiz show Jeopardy was won by a computer named Watson, beating previous quiz show champions.

The rapid pace of technology advancement will no doubt see computers performing some accounting and finance functions, and this is already happening.

Recent innovations like mobile phone apps that can identify expenses from photos of source documents, and automatically allocate them to the accounting records, are already widely used across a range of industries.

In fact, last year HMRC confirmed it will begin rolling out AI to review tax returns and issue tax penalties.

Deciding to implement such technology in business must be well planned and researched. It is important that management make the decision in the context of their particular business.

For example, do they have the resources to employ this technology – certain pieces of software can be expensive and involve significant upfront costs before yielding any benefits.

Do staff have an appetite to adopt this technology? To maximise effectiveness, it is important that staff are trained and competent in using the technology on a regular basis.

How secure is the software and the devices used?

This is particularly important in the current world of big data, with the real risk of data breaches in large and small businesses across the globe, not to mention compliance with data protection legislation.

Whilst it appears inevitable that technology is developing to take over the more repetitive or basic accounting and finance functions, there are some positive aspects for use of this technology by accountants and businesses.

Not only will technology bring about new types of jobs that will be less repetitive and more interpretive (increasing employee job satisfaction), it will also free up management’s time to focus on value-adding activities.

Activities that can add to revenue (such as focusing on new markets, products and clients) or reduce costs within a business.

If firms are looking to the future but aren’t open to change, they will lose competitive advantage.

As Northern Ireland businesses increasingly compete on a global scale, the adoption of robotics and technologies is essential.

Rather than seeing technology as a threat, accountants and businesses should see it as a growing opportunity.

UK lawtech not yet disruptive, new research shows

Lawtech in the UK has a long way to go if it is to reach its potential, the Law Society of England and Wales said as it launched new research into the development and adoption of sector-specific technology.

In its Lawtech Adoption Report, the Law Society explores the UK’s burgeoning lawtech sector and highlights key developments in this area and what this means for the legal profession and the business of law.

Law Society president Christina Blacklaws said: “A range of drivers is accelerating development and adoption of lawtech, from an escalating need for efficiency, increasing workloads and complexity of work to client pressure on costs and shorter turnaround times.

“Some of the most notable growth areas are legal analytics, legal project management, governance and compliance and contract management.

“Lawtech in the UK is largely focused on efficiencies and automation rather than on delivering ‘new types of law’. As such it is less mature than other fields of digital disruption – such as fintech, where there is more funding and regulatory alignment.”

The business-to-business legal services market is the most mature, particularly within large law firms, where AI and machine learning-driven applications are ubiquitous. Some of the more established areas include collaboration tools, document management, IP management and e-billing.

The business-to-consumer legal market seems to be lagging behind. There is most traction in those law firms that are delivering large-scale commoditised services, where automation is principally all about driving efficiencies. For instance, chatbots, DIY law, robo-lawyers and triage tools are all becoming more common with a greater focus on the consumer experience.

“Our research found that law firms face barriers to adoption of many lawtech solutions that are fundamental to the industry, such as risks around compliance, the partnership and billable hours models,” Christina Blacklaws said.

“After several years of start-up activity, the sector is now ripe for a wave of consolidation and later stage funding. Adopting and pioneering new technologies will give firms a strong competitive advantage in a rapidly evolving legal services market.”

How Artificial Intelligence Will Directly Affect The Media Industry

Many media companies from around the globe are anticipating the affect that artificial intelligence (AI) will have on the way they do business. The dynamic nature of technology trends demands its continuous evolution from publishing to a digital media company. Progress has been made in terms of content, as well as in terms of technology used to gather and publish information.

Artificial intelligence now possesses a larger pool of data to work with and automate so as to generate reports and other forms of content.

But How Will AI Affect Your Business?

Data Collection

Content in media is generated in all visible media formats. Relevant keywords, sentiments, and entities, along with topic classification is computed. Image classification is used for face detection or finding important parts of an image. All this data is then used to build a knowledge graph for ease of content search, recommendations, and relevant content syndication. The second part of data collection is around collecting time series data on what content is consumed by the end user. This helps the algorithm match user interest with content meta data.

Insights Utilisation

The insights obtained from text mining allow for trends to be identified and leveraged in order to solidify a target audience and appeal to their interests. Historical analysis of trending content helps the editors focus on the topics they would want to write and distribute across social media. By serving relevant ads for a target audience, the ROI for the advertisers can be improved resulting in increased revenue for the publisher. High performing advertising campaigns then become templates for future campaigns and low-performing ones can be analysed for their defects.

Customer Feedback

Algorithms can also help formulate responses to questions posed by customers. A direct outcome of this report would be the ability to weed out fake news that may be published by backlinking their sources and exposing their inaccuracies. Smart artificial intelligence would be able to perform these semiotic analyses to determine accuracy.