Based on all the recent hires of data scientists and machine learning engineers in Big Law in the last month, you might think the largest law firms fancy themselves software engineers, but you’d only be half right. In the AI edition of the classic “build versus buy” dilemma, some marquee firms have opted to leverage their position as the largest buyers of legal tech to influence vendor development of AI-powered services to suit their needs.

To bridge the language barrier between lawyers and technologists, global firms have spent the first half of the year stocking up on data scientists and machine learning engineers, often with legal backgrounds. In the last month alone, Latham & Watkins, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, DLA Piper and Reed Smith have hired technology specialists to newly created roles. Meanwhile, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius is looking to hire directors of AI and of innovation amid a partnership with Thomson Reuters.