This week, I discuss Quill, an AI tool built for assisting finance professionals, and a recent Financial Times webinar on the impact of AI on the legal field.

AI will change the world, but how will it change M&A? I want to focus on AI’s impact on M&A in this newsletter. I am not an expert on either M&A or AI, but I want to learn about both topics and how they intersect. I thought there might be others in my situation (or people who are experts in one field or the other) who would find information on M&A and AI helpful in their careers, so I created this newsletter to track and share what I learn.

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“Impact of Gen AI on the Legal Sector” Webinar

The Financial Times Webinar, “Impact of Gen AI on the Legal Sector,” brought together a diverse group of panelists to discuss the evolving role of AI in the legal industry. The panel included two in-house lawyers, a legal tech CEO, and a lawyer at a global professional services firm. The panelist spoke about their expectations for law firms’ use of AI, expectations regarding outside law firms’ handling of data, and the billable hour.

In-house legal departments have clear expectations when it comes to outside law firms’ use of AI. It’s no longer a question of if AI is used, but how it’s used. Both in-house counsel stated that AI has become an expected part of a client pitch, with firms needing to articulate what AI adds to the client relationship. They mentioned that very few law firms meet their standards for AI use. This should be a wake-up call for law firms. There is a clear opportunity for firms to step up and show clients that they are on board with AI.

Interestingly, one of the in-house counsels mentioned that they require outside law firms to refrain from using their data and agreements in training an AI model. I am interested to know whether this type of agreement is common among clients and their law firms. If so, it would greatly hinder a firm’s progress in creating and training a proprietary AI model. AI models need good data, and if all of the good data is subject to restrictions, there will not be a lot of good data available.

Lastly, the panel discussed the billable hour. The two in-house counsels had differing opinions on the future of the billable hour. One in-house lawyer thought that AI will cause firms to abandon the billable hour regime. The other had a more nuanced opinion. She pointed out that the billable hour works well for projects whose costs are uncertain. Fixed fees and success fees are good for projects that are certain. I think that this is a good take. Many lawyers want to see the billable hour go away but they forget that it is useful for at least some projects.

M&AI Tool Review — Quill

Quill is an AI tool for investors. Backed by Y-Combinator, Quill seems like a promising tool to help bring AI into the financial world. Quill has several useful capabilities, like chatting with documents, excel plug-ins to assist with financial modeling, and personalized SEC alerts. In this article, I will explore each capability and discuss private equity use cases.

Document Chats

Quill’s document chat feature appears similar to the document chat tools already on the market (ChatGPT, Google Notebook, etc.). Users can upload a document and the AI “reads” it, allowing the user to ask the AI model questions. What makes Quill different is that it is trained on financial data, and is specifically made for analyzing SEC filings.

There are several PE use cases with this feature. I will highlight two use cases here. First, investors can identify and research potential targets by scanning the company’s SEC filings. Instead of scrolling through endless pages and skimming the document for relevant information, Quill allows the user to prompt the model to identify the relevant information in seconds. Second, long internal documents (that are not available through the SEC) can be “read” by Quill, allowing users to identify relevant information with a prompt.

Excel Plug-in and Formula Generator

Quill also offers Excel plug-ins that generate CIQ formulas and can automatically fill in data, like historical information. I have been told that several other systems offer CIQ formulas in Excel, so this is not necessarily new. Automatically filling in certain data appears to be new on the marketplace, and would be very helpful to Excel users.

PE use cases here include accelerating financial modeling by taking advantage of the CIQ generator and allowing Quill to automate some of the manual tasks involved in creating a model.

Personalized AI SEC Alerts

Quill can send users a personalized alert from new SEC filings based on a prompt. This is cool. Instead of a generic, “there is a new filing,” alert, Quill goes further and provides users with additional information based on their prompts. This seems close to agentic AI—Quill can simultaneously search for new filings plus “read” and identify relevant information. I am not sure whether this is actually agentic AI, but it seems close! (more on agentic AI here)

This feature would be great for target company research and identification. Plus, it gives the relevant information based on the investor’s set criteria directly in the user’s inbox. I am curious about what would happen if there was an SEC alert that contained no relevant information. The best outcome would be that Quill recognizes that nothing is relevant and lets the user know. The not-so-great outcome would be that Quill hallucinates and makes up relevant information.

About me

My name is Parker Lawter, and I am a law student pursuing a career as an M&A lawyer. I am in my last semester of law school, and with some extra time on my hands, I decided to create this newsletter. I hope it is informative and helpful to anyone who reads it! I am not an expert at either M&A or AI, but I am actively pursuing knowledge in both areas, and this newsletter is a part of that pursuit. I hope you’ll join me!

Follow me on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/parker-w-lawter-58a6a41b

All views expressed are my own!

Photo of Parker Lawter Parker Lawter

My name is Parker Lawter, and I am a law student pursuing a career as an M&A lawyer. I am in my last semester of law school, and with some extra time on my hands, I decided to create this blog. I hope…

My name is Parker Lawter, and I am a law student pursuing a career as an M&A lawyer. I am in my last semester of law school, and with some extra time on my hands, I decided to create this blog. I hope it is informative and helpful to anyone who reads it! I am not an expert at either M&A or AI, but I am actively pursuing knowledge in both areas, and this newsletter is a part of that pursuit. I hope you’ll join me!