Simon Shaw

Today’s guest author is Simon Shaw, Sector Director – Professional Services UK & Ireland.

The following article comes from Simon’s personal LinkedIn page. He has agreed to let us share his perspectives.



In the dynamic world of legal practice, technology continues to reshape how law firms operate, communicate, and serve their clients. Among the myriad of technological advancements, Artificial Intelligence (AI) stands out, significantly impacting various aspects of legal work. Microsoft Copilot and similar AI technologies have become indispensable tools, enhancing productivity, streamlining workflow, and offering unprecedented support in case management and research.  Magic Circle law firms have understandably been investing significantly into researching the potential of AI, with many, such as Clifford Chance already boldly rolling out MS Copilot to all their employees.

However, the effectiveness of these AI solutions, particularly in hybrid meetings and industry specific meeting spaces such as training rooms, seminar rooms, and virtual courtrooms, is profoundly influenced by one often-overlooked aspect: The ability of the meeting space to support the core platform’s technology in achieving its potential output.

The number of practices mandating three to four days of office attendance a week is increasing. Pressure placed on firm IT and facilities departments to provide ‘best in class’ legal firm collaboration environments and user experiences is continually increasing as well.

Put simply, it’s of no use to deliver a revolutionary service to partners, clients, and employees that only works reliably as intended at a desktop level.


The challenge

At a fundamental level an AI tool or platform must recognise who is saying what.  This is comparatively easy to achieve for an individual joining a call from a personal device logged into M365 using their named MS account.  It’s fairly simple to optimise this scenario for Hybrid workers by making use of high quality background noise filtering headsets or desktop mic/ speakers, and a little user education.  The same is true for office based workers, though if they are joining meetings from their personal device, they need to be aware of their surroundings, and potential level of surrounding noise, particularly if their desk is in an open plan area.

This is a significant challenge for a meeting space environment, for example, within a dedicated Microsoft Teams meeting room individual attendees need to be identified by Copilot for it to perform its intended function.  There are two manners in which AI can potentially do this; speech recognition, or face recognition.  Both of these rely on the meeting space delivering intelligent camera and Microphone / speaker setups, that are able to ‘See’ and ‘hear’ individual faces and voices, otherwise AI can, and will, make mistakes that lead to costly misunderstandings and miscommunications, or all the potential time saved being lost by a labour intensive process of manually checking of AI outputs.


Meeting room layout and camera technology

Equity of experience for all meeting participants, whether remote or in person has been at the forefront of any modern enterprise’s wish list.  A classical ‘bowling alley’ location for a camera in a multi-purpose meeting room with a rectangular table means the potential for face recognition technology being able to do its job effectively is slim, as room participants heads are commonly obscured by the person sitting next to them, and they are also not likely to face the camera for the duration of the meeting.


Voice transmission

It’s very common for voice pickup and transmission from a badly setup meeting space to be perceived as poor by the far end of a hybrid meeting when compared to an individual using a high quality headset, and this transmission is what the AI platform will ‘hear’, attribute to an individual, and use to perform it’s tasks, making an educated guess as to who is saying what.


Is it a technology challenge?

Not exclusively.

Microsoft and various technology vendors have been heavily investing in development of ‘intelligent’  multi-camera and microphone technology in answer to the meeting space AI challenge.  This technology is progressing at a rapid pace, however if you put the latest and greatest microphones in a glass box with an air conditioning system providing ominous levels of background noise for good measure, the end result will consistently be devastatingly poor.  Similarly, I’ve yet to see a camera that’s able to produce a perfect image pointing directly into a substantial light source, or guess what a persons face looks like if it only has half of someone’s face to work with as a base image in the first place.


The solution

Unfortunately there is no ‘silver bullet’.  IT and facilities departments need to work together alongside a trusted integrator and service provider to create meeting space environments that are for purpose, and as future proof as possible. This means a collaborative approach from the ground up incorporating:

  • Furniture choice and layout
  • Lighting
  • Acoustic properties / treatment
  • Background noise
  • Sound bleed from adjacent spaces
  • Microphone type and setup
  • Camera type(s), and location(s)
  • Display size and locations

It does not mean that meeting spaces can no longer be aesthetically pleasing, but of course ‘look and feel’ can and should be influenced.

If a firm is in the process of moving to a new premises, it’s a great opportunity to look at common, or ‘flagship’ build standards from the ground up.  Yet it is also possible to significantly improve existing meeting space potential once the correct gap analysis has been performed.



As law firms continue to integrate AI technologies into their day-to-day operations, the importance of both meeting space design, choice of technology, and ongoing support models cannot be overstated.  A correctly considered and detailed strategy will pave a clear path to deliver the workplace of tomorrow to partners and clients and drive considerable competitive advantage.

As you consider how your practice will embrace modern AV/UC AI-enabled systems, review AVI-SPL’s solution and support capabilities.