AI and the Human Element: An Interview with Squire Patton Boggs’ Huu Nguyen

Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Corporate Legal, Data Analytics, Efficiency, Law Firm Profitability, Law Firms, Legal Executive Events, Legal Innovation, Legal Managed Services, Practice Engineering, Process Management, Thomson Reuters


Huu Nguyen, a partner with Squire Patton Boggs in New York, is a deal lawyer who focuses on the technology and venture space. In advance of the Legal Executive Institute’s Augment 2019 Conference on June 6 in Chicago, Nguyen spoke with David Curle, the director of the technology & innovation platform at Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute, about the role that Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays in his practice and in the wider practice and business of law.

David Curle: What’s your background in AI?

Huu Nguyen: I am a computer scientist and a lawyer. I got my Masters in computer science, and I did artificial intelligence research many years ago, specifically robotics and natural language processing. I went to law school at Berkley and have practiced technology law since 2005.

I focus on various aspects of technology, but one of the areas is data and artificial intelligence. I’ve given talks and have written on the subject.

David Curle: What kinds of issues are your clients grappling with when it comes to AI?

Huu Nguyen: I advise clients about risks, about how to structure programs, data usage programs, and things like that. Just knowing the state of the regulations and also what kind of issues are the subject of litigation is important.

David Curle: How do you think AI is influencing how law is practiced today?

Huu Nguyen: Well, not necessarily my own practice, but there are areas such as litigation, where predictive AI is used in discovery tools. We’re seeing better searches from Westlaw using natural language processing. We’re seeing AI in electronic due diligence, processing data faster, more efficiently.

And I’m seeing some tools for doing actual contract drafting, maybe assistance in negotiation that relies on some form of AI.

David Curle: You will be on a panel at Augment 2019 that will focus on AI and the human element and the enhancement of work of professionals through AI. What do you hope to cover on that panel?


Huu Nguyen of Squire Patton Boggs

Huu Nguyen: I think we want to emphasize the importance of the human presence in AI deployment. Making sure that people are in the loop when decisions are made with the help of AI, especially when it comes to making profile decisions, credit decisions or things like that —that’s part of the human element of it. It’s augmented intelligence as opposed to artificial intelligence.

In some situations, for example, AI can be leveraged in a sort of “customer service 2.0,” where people are using AI to help you fill out potential responses, but not actually doing the customer service per se. I think it also includes the interaction between people and machines using speech. I think that’s very interesting. Another area might be for HR recruiting, for compliance and training by using more natural language processing.

So, we are talking about a human interface with a human sort of touch and keeping people in the decision loop. It’s not AI, like I said, it’s augmented intelligence.

David Curle: For someone attending Augment 2019 and your panel specifically, what would you hope they would get out of it?

Huu Nguyen: Well, I think knowing what the hype is and what is real is important. Also, they need to understand that if they’re going to adopt AI, they should have some sort of sense of what the risks are, adopt some AI policies, and keep people in those decision loops.

That’s a big deal, especially under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Hopefully there will be a lot of lessons learned, but also the point is not to be afraid of the technology, to adopt it, understand it, and think wisely about it.