One of the beautiful things about artificial intelligence is its ability to “think” on multiple channels at once. For Laura Kibbe, assistant general counsel at IQVIA and one of this year’s AI Visionary, this means case teams can use it not just to accelerate discovery, but protect privilege, identify PII, and develop case strategy all at once—and that kind of efficiency creates a ton of value.
The legal sector has a reputation of being slow to embrace new technologies, but you stand out as an early adopter of AI. What are some of the structural barriers that keep the legal sector from adopting new technologies? How and why did you take an interest in AI?
I believe the biggest barrier that prevents the legal sector from not only embracing, but seeking out new, more efficient legal technologies, is the lack of judicial guidance. With the Federal Rules amendment, practitioners now feel they know what the “legal” test will be, but because it always requires a fact-specific determination, they and their clients are unwilling to try something “new” and have it deemed unreasonable or inaccurate in hindsight.
I think the reason I took an interest in artificial intelligence (AI) is ultimately due to what will have to force a sea change in the way our use of technology is evaluated. It’s a simple answer: time and cost. In today’s litigation climate, even the smallest cases have tens of thousands of documents and emails that need to be reviewed to comply with production obligations. Depending on the nature and scope of the case, e-discovery costs could eclipse total case value. That is exactly what the new proportionality rules seek to avoid. By being able to approach discovery in a new way, using technology to not just get documents produced, but also to aid counsel in evaluating privilege, identifying PII or PHI, and fact development at the same time, we are creating a more informed legal team that can focus on what really matters: the merits of the case.
The legal function has a reputation of being considered an expensive cost center. How do you prove your value to your organization? Can technologies like AI help you uncover more value? How?
I wish it could be different, but any legal department is undoubtedly more of a cost center than a revenue generator—that’s the nature of our work. But by keeping those costs as low as possible and proportionate to the value of the case, coupled with enabling counsel to understand the facts of the case sooner, you can assess the strength or weakness of your case earlier. That ultimately positions the company to dispose of the litigation in the most efficient and cost effective manner. As above, using AI allows you to combine the “mechanics” of document production with the subjective evaluation of the case and fact development, creating that kind of value.
Could you briefly summarize your work with AI?
We have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to reach agreement with our opponents in several cases and used AI technology to assist in our document production efforts. We have seen substantial cost savings over traditional manual review and accelerated counsel’s ability to evaluate and provide guidance on the relative merits of their cases.
What have you learned from your experience? What were the wins and contributions that you are most proud of?
Throughout my 30 years as a litigator, I am most proud of my ability to facilitate a process that enables counsel to quickly understand the relevant facts in our cases and evaluate strength or weakness. With that knowledge early on, we can provide better guidance to our business clients and set realistic expectations as to outcomes. Litigation is a cost of doing business, and technology helps us manage those costs and predict outcomes in the same way our business clients do every day.
What were your interests early on, and what drew you to the practice of law?
I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was nine years old. We had a career day at my school, and I was convinced I wanted to be a flight attendant. One of my classmate’s dads was a litigator and spoke to the class about how the courts work and how two lawyers had to convince a judge or jury they were right. My mom told me I came home that day and said I wanted to be a lawyer!
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household where my parents had a successful, family-owned business. I saw my parents deal with the same kind of legal issues my classmate’s dad had described, which always seemed to get in the way of them conducting business as usual. I would listen to their conversations with their lawyers and watch them negotiate settlements, and thought doing that “in-house” would not only be fun but save a lot of money for them. It’s no surprise that two-thirds of my career have been spent practicing in-house.
What do you do when you are not working? How do you decompress?
Those who know me well would probably say I never decompress. To the extent I do, I spend time with friends, my daughters (at a lot of cheer competitions), and my dog, Coco. I love to travel, entertain at home, and—also not surprising to those who know me—shop.
Which person (living or deceased) do you most admire?
Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Regardless of your political affiliation, she became a lawyer at a time when female assertiveness and strength was not only not expected, but unwelcome. She forged a path for those of us behind her that said “you can have it all”—and even become a Supreme Court Justice. She reminds young women that they can do anything they set their mind to, even if society disapproves.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Without question, my greatest achievement is raising smart, independent, confident, and, at times, too-fearless daughters. I’ve been a single mom for many years and hopefully have shown them that you can have it all: a successful and rewarding career, time for family and school events, and even some complete downtime. They are my legacy, and I am extremely proud of them.
What do you consider the most underrated quality or skill?
Open-mindedness. As lawyers, and especially as litigators, we are always arguing our position and making it as strong and persuasive as we can. But I believe putting yourself in your opponents’ shoes and truly being open to their perspectives, even in a hotly contested litigation, can lead to a successful resolution for the client.