Farrah Pepper, chief legal innovation counsel at Marsh McLennan, believes in a future where “AI is just ‘there,’ as inevitable as Thanos but without the unfortunate death wish for half the galaxy.” Make no mistake: the future is bright with use cases and innovations under the umbrella of artificial intelligence, and her innovative team is ready to bring it to fruition as quickly—and thoughtfully—as possible.
Daniel Chapman: Please describe your role in your organization and how technology plays a part in it.
Farah Pepper: As chief legal innovation counsel (CLIC) at Marsh McLennan, I am on a mission to make things better for my legal team by helping my colleagues work smarter and use technology wisely. Or as I like to say, I make things click as the CLIC.
As a global company with more than 85,000 employees, we have a lot going on. Some of the things that keep me busiest include leading the Legal Innovation and Technology (LIT) team with my wonderful teammates, building the LIT Lab to experiment with new ways of working, and leading our data discovery program. Every day is an adventure.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am a builder by nature and love the ability to get creative in my daily work, so I am proud of all the “firsts” in my career thus far. I started in Big Law, founding the e-discovery practice group at the global firm where I began my career, Gibson Dunn. I then evolved to the client side, serving as the first global discovery counsel and creating the Discovery COE at GE (General Electric).
Now, as CLIC, I am building a new type of team (the LIT team) and program (the LIT Lab, for innovation) in my current role at Marsh McLennan.
The common thread throughout all these roles is the creation of something awesome that wasn’t there before—something that helps my colleagues do their jobs better and be happier while doing it. That’s one of my soapbox issues; one of the core pillars I use to assess my team’s value is the undervalued principle of creating joy.
How would you describe the promise of AI at a family dinner?
AI has the potential to make people better. It’s not about robots “taking over” or “replacing people.” Nay! Rather, we can use AI to take some of the drudgery and pain out of day-to-day work and enable people to do more meaningful and impactful work. AI can create a higher jumping-off point for humans to do what they do best: ideate, imagine, inspire, and innovate.
Why does AI matter for what you do?
Innovation is a continuing flow of positive change, big and small. AI can be a way to turbokick those changes.
The repetitive mantra of “do more with less” is a bore, but the promise of AI is to make that truly possible.
I love a good acronym, so let’s put it this way: Law departments need to make AI into BAU for their ROI—or risk becoming DOA.
How and why did you take an interest in AI?
I’ve always been tech-friendly, courtesy of an early-adopter dad who loved to bring home the latest in personal computing and entertainment well before it was de rigueur. (Pong, anyone?)
But I would say my professional expectations around the criticality of technology in the practice of law—and specifically AI—were forged in the crucible of my early days in the then-nascent field of e-discovery. There was simply no way to manage the growing volume, complexity, and urgency without leaning hard into technology solutions. Some lawyers may still fear the robots, but I came of age in a world where the debate wasn’t whether to use technology, but rather which kinds and how much.
Embracing technology is one thing, but finding the right technology partner is quite another. What do you look for in your technology partners?
The right technology partner is like any good partner. You want them to be smart, capable, honest, good listeners, and great communicators. It’s a yin/yang; they bring something to the table that complements something you lack and want. Life is full of bumps in the road, so you need a partner who is a problem solver and has a good attitude. Nobody wants to spend their precious time with a Debbie/Donnie Downer.
What AI-powered innovations are you looking forward to implementing in the future?
It seems increasingly clear that generative AI isn’t just going to be a fun parlor trick or relegated to standalone apps, but rather embedded in our core tool sets for human communication and analysis. It still needs some sprucing up—data accuracy and embedded bias are just a couple of issues to be addressed. When the moment is right, I will welcome a future in which AI is just “there,” as inevitable as Thanos but without the unfortunate death wish for half the galaxy.
What is one small thing someone could do today to move toward an AI-enabled future?
I am passionate about legal education, which is why I am on the board of organizations like the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) and the College of Law Practice Management. This is a wonderful time for AI learning opportunities, given that we are all figuring this out in real time. There is so much content, in fact, that it helps to have some curation. As a starting point, you can follow the #AIVisionaries on LinkedIn and attend educational events like Relativity’s AI Bootcamp. Get comfortable with the lingo and start dreaming up your own use cases.
Given the growing volumes of data, AI is an increasingly powerful arrow in the quiver to help legal teams get to the truth—bullseye!—as quickly and reliably as possible. AI needs to feel as natural and effortless to our ways of working as breathing and blinking.
How does AI help your team decrease risk and maximize efficiency?
AI is here to stay. We already lean into AI in various contexts, including AI-supported contract analysis and AI-driven document review for discovery and investigations. Given the growing volumes of data, AI is an increasingly powerful arrow in the quiver to help legal teams get to the truth—bullseye!—as quickly and reliably as possible.
In an ideal world, what would you want to see developed in the field of AI to improve how you conduct business?
AI needs to feel as natural and effortless to our ways of working as breathing and blinking.
One of the impediments to AI adoption—and indeed, any technology adoption—is ease of use. It needs to be simple, intuitive, and integrated to be a success. (Providers, can you hear me? Keep it simple!)