In a recent article from Legal IT Insider, Caroline Hill wrote about how “63% of all legal contracts are gender-biased” based on a report from Genie AI. We wanted to dive deeper into that topic, so we asked Caroline and Alex Denne, Genie AI’s Growth Marketing Lead, to come on at talk with us.
Genie AI is an Open-Source product with some 1,500 legal templates available in the UK currently and is looking to expand into the US in 2023. Alex Denne mentions that in the evaluation of these templates, and in discussions he was having in the industry, there was talk of gender-bias in contracts, but that there was no baseline to measure whether the industry was improving or regressing in its bias. Therefore, Genie AI took it upon itself to evaluate the contracts it had for bias terms and phrases. It was this evaluation that found that nearly 2/3rds of contracts had gender-biased terms in them.
Caroline Hill shares her experiences in the Legal Tech industry to note that the number of CIOs in the UK who are women is actually going down instead of up, and that she’s noticed that even in simple things like job descriptions, gender-biased terms have a cumulative effect. Jobs which pull from STEM graduates still used gender-biased terms and according to Hill, phrases like “we are looking for a strong” or “aggressive” or “go getter” tend to have a direct effect on whether women apply for these positions or not.
Alex Denne points out that the UK government is requiring gender-neutral language in all contracts they approve. Both Denne and Hill agree that in order for law firms to adjust their own contract language to use more gender-neutral terms, clients have a direct impact on how seriously they take that mission. If it is part of the culture of the client to reduce gender-bias, then perhaps that should be part of the outside counsel guidelines for the firms they use.
Legal Value Network Crystal Ball Question:
This week, Erik Perez, Central Legal Operations Officer at Shell USA, Inc., answers our Crystal Ball Question by focusing on the long-term needs of legal operations to both stay on task, hire and retain excellent talent, and use the right people for the right tasks.