Artificial intelligence (AI) is already changing the business of law. Many firms are adopting the rapidly expanding suite of AI-powered tools to help their legal practitioners improve client relationships and deliver better outcomes.
The burgeoning legal tech industry is putting an ever-expanding suite of AI-powered tools in the hands of law firms. Most tools are currently focused on lifting the burden of document review, analysis and research off your shoulders. Like all legal tech solutions, the goal of AI-powered tools is to offer lawyers new ways to facilitate the just, quick and cheap resolution of disputes and respond more appropriately to client needs.
In part one of this three-part article series exploring how your firm can leverage advances in AI, we reveal how to identify opportunities to use AI-powered tools to improve your client relationships.
Thinking about the tech future
Which areas of your practice could benefit from automation and AI?
Like other industries, the areas of legal practice most amenable to the use of AI-powered tools are those that are repetitive or require collaboration between large teams. AI is already embedded in the workflow of some Australian firms and is helping lawyers streamline document review, prioritise and manage projects, and uncover market trends.
“We currently have a suite of AI-powered applications covering areas as diverse as due diligence, e-discovery, verification and work allocation, which enable us to ensure we’re using the right application to solve the right problem,” says Robert Regan, Partner, Corrs Chambers Westgarth.
Likewise, Gilbert + Tobin is “actively using predictive coding software in litigation e-discovery and contract analysis tools to assist with M&A due diligence exercises,” according to Caryn Sandler, Gilbert + Tobin’s Chief Knowledge and Innovation Officer.
“We’re also investigating alternative use cases for AI, such as market trend analysis, and rigorously testing the AI algorithms and systems to identify opportunities to deliver improved legal services,” she says.
While AI and automation are transforming the legal industry, the ideal technology strategy will vary from firm to firm. Purchasing existing software solutions has proven to be a quick and easy way to access some of the immediate efficiency gains promised by automation. For larger firms, however, a more ambitious investment strategy could pay off in the long run.
Holistic strategies involving the establishment of collaborative workspaces with developers and engaging developers to create unique, individual products could help put your firm on the forefront of a rapidly changing marketplace. Matching a solution to a pain point is the key to success in the implementation of any technology solution.
Lawyers as account managers
One benefit of legal tech and AI-powered tools shouldering the burden of the most repetitive, labour-intensive tasks, and smoothing over the bugbears of large scale collaboration, is that lawyers can dedicate greater focus to building and maintaining client relationships.
When it comes to the business of law, AI-powered tools like IBM Watson automate operational processes such as budgeting and pricing. But it’s not just operational processes being targeted by AI tools. Tools like the AI-powered legal information research assistant (Ailira) help lawyers (and even clients) research faster and more efficiently. And the Data Privacy Advisor offers users, lawyers or otherwise, a question-answer interface built on AI that can help navigate the global patchwork of data protection and privacy laws.
Time saved on these operational and research tasks is time that can be used elsewhere, for example, building and maintaining client relationships or bringing in new business – both key skills for young lawyers looking to move up the law firm pyramid.
The rise of legal technologists
For both Sandler and Regan, it’s clear that AI isn’t a threat to their firms, but rather a key competitive advantage that gives their lawyers more time to focus on delivering higher-quality work and winning better outcomes for their clients.
“We have long recognised that the practice of law is evolving and we’re determined to remain at the forefront of these changes,” Regan says.
“Understanding what new technologies can do and how we can innovate to improve our client outcomes and workflows is a necessary skill for today’s lawyers.”
While technology and AI can appear terrifying for firms stuck in the mindset of outdated processes, the benefits of legal technologies far outweigh the cons. Applying the AI-powered technology to repetitive, laborious pain points will be key for a successful 21st century legal team.
Is your firm prepared for the AI revolution? Check out part two of our three-part article series. We offer insights on how to prepare your firm for the latest in legal tech.