The in-house perspective – session report from the IBA 20th Annual International Mergers & Acquisitions Conference (2023)

Sunday 17 September 2023

Ralf Morshäuser
Gleiss Lutz, Munich

Wednesday 7 June 2023, 1145-1245


Valentina Cassata  Lead Counsel M&A and Corporate, Standard Industries and General Counsel at Standard Investments, New York, New York State


Shiri Ben-Yishai  General Counsel, Fanatics Inc, New York, New York State

Jeffrey W Chivers  Chief Executive Officer, TLATech Inc., New York, New York State

Dagmar Mundani  General Counsel, Siemens Healthineers AG, Erlangen

Ronald M Sanders  Valenz Associates, New York, New York State

Laura Stevens  General Counsel, Cengage Group, Boston, Massachusetts


Ralf Morshäuser  Gleiss Lutz, Munich


Valentina Cassata began by welcoming everyone to the session and introducing the panelists. She described artificial intelligence (AI) as the key topic that the panel would discuss and that there would be the following sub-topics:

  • adoption of AI by businesses and the role of general counsel in this respect;
  • intellectual property (IP) issues/strategies related to AI; and
  • the adoption of AI by legal departments.

Before beginning the discussion, Cassata gave an introduction to the topic of AI in the legal profession. She described the powerful capabilities of AI as one of the ‘a-ha moments’ that have opened our eyes to technology’s ability to fundamentally change how we access and generate information. She further pointed out that AI will not eliminate the need for lawyers but that lawyers will increasingly need AI tools to deliver their services efficiently and effectively.

“AI will not eliminate the need for lawyers but lawyers will increasingly need AI tools to deliver their services efficiently and effectively

Topic one: adoption of AI and the role of general counsel

Laura Stevens provided insight into the relevance of AI in her company, Cengage Group. She highlighted that AI plays a prominent role in her daily work as a general counsel. Stevens further described how AI influences the business of her company and the legal challenges, including those relating to licensing and IP topics.

Shiri Ben-Yishai also described the relevance of AI in her company and emphasised that AI is another tool in the toolbox for getting work done more efficiently. She further highlighted that her company rolled out internal guidance for employees concerning AI. The guidelines do not prohibit the use of AI, but provide guiding principles, in particular, with respect to data security and data privacy.

Dagmar Mundani differentiated between incorporation of AI into the products of her company and adoption by business generally. Mundani gave various examples of how AI is used and embedded in the products of her company (which is in the healthcare sector). As an example, she highlighted AI support in positioning patients to receive better X-ray images. She further mentioned the use of AI tools in cancer therapy, where they can contribute to more efficient and precise radiation with less side effects.

Furthermore, Mundani gave examples for the adoption of AI by businesses generally, including the generation and analysis of financial data, cash planning, archiving and managing contracts as well as due diligence in a transactional or post-merger integration context.

Ronald Sanders said that in the investment management business there are less concerns regarding the incorporation of AI into products than in industrial corporations. He recommended that external counsel work with their clients towards using AI in the best possible way.

Cassata concluded by discussing certain areas of risk in the business adoption of AI, in particular relating to data security and data privacy.

Topic two: IP issues/strategies related to AI

Jeffrey Chivers gave a brief introduction and stated that the advent of AI raises novel IP questions, in particular in the fields of copyright and patents.

Cassata asked what businesses were facing.

Stevens reported that her company has been a content creator for many years with an enormous amount of copyrighted work that has been scraped from the internet and used by other companies for the training of language models. At the same time, the company is actively looking into the incorporation of AI into its own software and into its own products. Therefore, according to Stevens, the company is on both sides of the issue. She summarised that there is a lot of excitement around AI, but that no one understands all legal consequences incurred by its use.

Ben-Yishai confirmed that AI is helpful in content creation, but that there is a lack of legal clarity on whether creative works made with AI will be protectable.

According to Mundani, we have to bear in mind that AI-generated software will not be protected by copyright law (at least in many jurisdictions). Thus, a proper IP strategy will be key. Overall, there would be a strong role for the legal function and also for advisers in this context.

Topic three: legal department adoption of AI

The panel then comprehensively discussed the impact of AI on the legal profession and, in particular, on legal departments.

Ben-Yishai pointed out that the use of AI does not limit the respective lawyer’s responsibility for the content and correctness of the work product. Therefore, as of now, AI has a mere preparatory function. While AI saves time and may save headcount, it is just another tool to achieve proper work results.

Stevens explained that outside counsel should discuss the use of AI with general counsel and share their related expertise.

Sanders added that it is important for law firms to explain to their clients how they utilise AI to provide a better and more efficient work product.

Ben-Yishai also emphasised that clients expect AI to lead to faster and more efficient work products. She criticised the lack of offerings of law firms in this respect.

Stevens stressed that AI will be of particular relevance in areas that are particularly complex and time-intensive, such as investigations, large litigation and M&A.

Finally, the panel discussed how to use AI in the training of young lawyers. The panelists discussed ways to train young lawyers in the future and agreed that AI may take rather mundane elements of work and make them more exciting and attractive.