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Introducing AI Visionaries: The Luminaries Blazing a Trail for AI Adoption


By now, we are no strangers to artificial intelligence in one form or another. It helps us pick movies on Netflix, shops with us on Amazon, and even, apparently, makes whites brighter, if LG washers are to be believed.

Yet despite the constant conversation in our daily lives, many businesses, especially those involved in legal, compliance, and risk, have been slow to adopt AI-powered practices to manage their ever-growing data volumes. It can sometimes seem like AI is a solution in search of a problem.

Today, we’d like to introduce you to those humans who found the problems.

2022 marks the launch of AI Visionaries, an annual list of industry luminaries that honors the explorers, experimenters, and promoters who have harnessed humankind’s most advanced tool to solve consequential problems. These are the trailblazers with a clear vision for using artificial intelligence and machine learning in innovative ways at their organizations, clearing a path for others to follow.

The Premise of AI: Recognizing Innovation

It’s understandable that there’s wariness surrounding AI; a technology that’s different from established systems means change, and change is hard. But how, without the computational power of AI, is a business meant to find the truth, the relevance, in its data?

It takes a village, or at least a partnership. AI doesn’t act alone. It's a tool—an alley-oop that the AI Visionaries have used to unlock the knowledge tied up in its organizational data and help them make decisions with confidence and accuracy.

“AI is not about ceding control; it’s about harnessing technology to help us do our jobs better,” says Selina Coleman, partner at Reed Smith and a 2022 AI Visionary.

Mike Gamson, Relativity’s chief executive officer, recently underscored the important contributions of the group. “I think what we are witnessing now will be seen as a turning point in history—the emergence of a dynamic group of AI visionaries who are blazing a trail for AI adoption, particularly in functions where managing risk is a top priority and the approach to technology adoption has been more conservative.”

Many of these AI Visionaries have firsthand experience in pioneering the use of AI in new and exciting applications, from automating data breach responses, to analyzing documents for high-stakes investigations and litigations, to incorporating AI to create more proactive privacy and compliance workflows.

“I find the adoption rate for technology in the legal space typically requires someone else going first,” notes Alison Grounds, AI Visionary and partner and managing director at Troutman Pepper eMerge. “So our attitude has always been, let's be first.”

Joining Coleman and Grounds on the list are Ruby Zefo, chief privacy officer at Uber; Peter Lefkowitz, vice president and chief digital risk officer at Citrix; Dan Cooperman, former general counsel at Apple and Oracle; and Heather Sussman, head of the Cyber, Privacy & Data Innovation Group at Orrick, among 40 other bright stars.

The People of AI: Innovative Thinkers

At Relativity, we believe deeply in recognizing talent, whether it be the enthusiasm our employees bring to their work or the curiosity and expertise our users bring to Relativity Fest every year. As we innovate on our products and bring artificial intelligence to bear on all types of sensitive-information discovery, now is the time to celebrate the people dedicating their time to promoting the possibilities of AI.

From improving e-discovery processes and timelines to protecting highly sensitive business information, AI empowers original thinkers to find new ways to do their work—which gives them the space to create value for their organizations.

“Technology can help us reach the efficiency we're looking for and free up our team to work on what they’re truly good at doing,” notes Josh Kreamer, AI Visionary and director of e-discovery at AstraZeneca.

What we’ve found in interviewing nearly 50 leaders applying AI to business is that it takes a learning mindset, more than technical skill, to succeed.

“I’ve always been curious about new ways of doing things,” says Jennifer Harkins Garone, AI Visionary and senior director, privacy & information governance at Carnival Corporation. “How do we do things better?”

The Promise of AI: Thinking Broader

As data volumes grow and the changing shape of data—the complex mix of file types and formats and storage—makes piecing together narratives more difficult, AI becomes a critical tool to ensure businesses have a handle on their most important, their most sensitive, assets. As the Philadelphia-based law firm Ballard Spahr realized, sometimes those assets aren’t data at all, but the very people you work with.

AI may be a tool, but its ethical use requires deep contemplation and practice. A highlight of our launch of the inaugural AI Visionaries list is an awards banquet and fireside chat between Mike Gamson and Virginia Essandoh, AI Visionary and chief diversity officer at Ballard Spahr, in New York City during Legalweek (March 7-11). For our inaugural AI Visionaries dinner, Essandoh will speak about her experience working with Text IQ, A Relativity Company, to build a process for detecting unconscious bias in performance reviews at her firm.

By uncovering hidden biases in performance reviews, Ballard hopes to build a more equitable and inclusive work environment. And they should know—Ballard recently attained the Mansfield Certification Plus status for diversity and inclusion in the firm’s leadership, affirming Ballard has at least 30 percent women, attorneys of color, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities in a notable number of its current leadership roles.

“The opportunity to leverage AI to bring unconscious bias to the surface can have a significant impact on creating a more equitable, fair performance review process,” says Virginia. “Ballard Spahr knows that diversity doesn’t just happen; it’s the intentional outcome of commitment to equity and inclusion. I’m proud of the firm for exploring how AI can lead to proactive and purposeful action to uncover where hidden biases lie, and in turn ultimately fostering a better overall workplace.”

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are an open promise. A powerful tool to accelerate and amplify human potential: deeper knowledge, more accurate information, a fairer shake. However we find value in it, at the core of AI is us. It’s our curiosity and our dreams that let this tool be effective.

Today we honor the 46 leaders in legal, compliance, and risk who have shared their dreams and focused their vision to inspire us all.

To see the full AI Visionaries list, please visit

2021 Data Discovery Legal Year in Review

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