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Who Holds the Legal Professional Accountable for Innovation? AI Visionary Kelly Clay

Dan Donegan

Serving as assistant general counsel at GlaxoSmithKline, a British pharmaceutical company, Kelly Clay has played a major role in improving and updating the company’s e-discovery practices for many years. She advocates for the use of AI as an important way for lawyers to act on their obligations—and the justice system’s and clients’ demandsto find ethical, expedient ways of working in a quickly evolving business world. 

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?  

The legal sector inherently relies on the precedent of case law and regulations to make decisions and build strategies. Because of this, it takes times to transform ways of working and understand newer technologies. I am very attracted to finding ways to tackle any task faster, more effectively, and more cost efficiently.  

We are accountable to the justice system and our clients to establish ethical and expedient ways of working. The use of various types of artificial intelligence as tools that can help us fulfill our obligations in ways that support the fair and judicious resolution of matters—that’s what excites me, and that’s what I hope to see more commonly in the field. 

Often, the legal function is considered to be an expensive cost center. How can these teams best prove their value to their organizations?  

Legal can best prove its value by responding more quickly to inquiries from across their organization, sharing—and frequently resharing—relevant advice with those who seek it, being a consistent voice for the best interests of the company, and understanding risk and business requirement profiles to help frame discussions around legal advice.  

Can technologies like AI help you uncover more value? If so, how?  

AI is a great tool for legal departments to leverage, particularly after a simplification process and consolidation of knowledge management policies and workflows is performed. One example: AI can help by using smart forms, allowing attorneys to see who has most recently responded to queries, to drive costs down by reusing legal work and being able to customize responses quickly.  

We are accountable to the justice system and our clients to establish ethical and expedient ways of working.

Over the course of your career, what are the wins that you most proud of? Why?  

I am most proud of the work I have done to develop others and to lead others to see the importance of adopting quickly changing technologies and new ways of working. 

What were your interests early on and what drew you to the practice of law?  

I have always been focused on fairness and the ability to provide justice for everyone. I also grew up around the arts, but unfortunately artistic professions do not provide stability. I saw the legal field as a stable profession that still inspired my interest and creativity. 

What do you do when you are not working? How do you decompress?  

Not working? Ha. Well, I do love hot yoga, traveling, reading, my dogs, and supporting my son in his passions. 

Which person (living or deceased) do you most admire?  

I may have to say my great-grandmother. She was thrown into Hells Kitchen from Ireland, raised her siblings, and survived by eating ketchup and hot water when they had no food. She moved on to educate herself, marry, raise two Duke graduates, and even become a tennis star at age 40.  

She moved with us to the Philippines and is now buried there in the Cardinal Sin Cemetery. I admire her because she never thought anything was not possible if you tried. 

Which historical figure do you most identify with?  

Well, I have always loved Ghandi. I’m not sure I can say I identify with him, but I am awed and inspired by him. 

What do you consider the most underrated quality or skill?  

What a difficult question. I am not sure that I can answer this one. Perhaps my Jenga skills. 

Dan Donegan is an account executive at Relativity.