As technology continues to rapidly advance, legal teams find themselves in a perpetual race to adapt, innovate, and harness the power of emerging tools such as AI and intelligent automation. It's a strategic imperative to compete in the fast lane and deliver better value to their clients and constituents.
Our latest report, 24 Voices for 2024:Trends in AI & Automation, brings together insightful perspectives from 24 global thought leaders, supporting three areas of discussion:
Within these areas, nine trends emerged that are creating seismic change and have the potential to drive unprecedented productivity — enabling teams to be more strategic and deliver better services.
In this blog, get a sneak peek at what these experts are saying and why these trends matter. (Or jump right to the full report.)
Lawyers and legal teams are increasingly captivated by the vast possibilities AI holds, not only due to its broad appeal but also because of its potential to enhance their work lives and job satisfaction. AI can be used in eDiscovery, legal research, document management and automation, due diligence, litigation analysis, improving internal business processes, and more. The existence and promise of AI within the legal realm are unmistakable, with opportunities to enhance efficiency and elevate the effectiveness of legal work.
Terri Mottershead, Executive Director, Centre of Legal Innovation — “2023 was a year of experimentation, having such a powerful technology released into the world where we became the beta testers was something that we hadn't really experienced before. There continues to be a lot of cautious excitement as we learn and adjust, and consumers are now turning into creators.” See more
According to a Thomson Reuters Institute survey, 82%of respondents expressed optimism about the potential use of generative AI n the legal profession. Both reflecting and illustrating how AI will impact the legal industry in coming years, The National Law Review reports that 36%of lawyers say that AI tools will be mainstream within the next five years.
AI signifies a notable departure from the traditional cautious approach of the legal industry towards adopting new technology. AI has a unique appeal that is driving its rapid adoption. In a panel discussion at the NetDocuments 2023 Inspire user conference, Greg Siskind, Co-Founder of Siskind Susser Immigration Lawyers, described AI’s appeal: "What do lawyers do all day long? We research, we read, we digest information, and then we draft. AI can make our day-to-day work easier in a lot of respects because it can do a lot of those tasks." See more
With an unprecedented focus on productivity in legal workflows, the adoption of next-generation automation technologies is on the rise. When strategically leveraged, these legal tech tools can optimize workflows, automate repetitive tasks, and empower legal professionals to provide enhanced strategic value to their clients.
Research by PwC underscores the impact, revealing that businesses can save between 30%-40% of the hours typically spent on manual tasks with the integration of AI. However, the challenge lies in identifying the technologies that will wield the most significant impact. Blindly adopting technology for its own sake may not necessarily enhance productivity or client satisfaction. It's crucial to discern where automation can genuinely revolutionize efficiency without sacrificing the human touch.
Alex Bazin, Chief Technology Officer, Lewis Silkin LLP — “After implementing recent automations, some of the firm’s clients are already benefitting from reduced fees and exploring the opportunity to self-serve automations, while the firm’s lawyers have realized over 100 hours in time savings.” See more
By embedding AI enhancements natively into the tools legal professionals already use daily, such as Microsoft 365, integrations streamline the adoption process and remove productivity barriers. The integration of AI tools into existing legal software and systems enables lawyers to work within their familiar environments, minimizing disruptions and reducing the learning curve to make AI tools more accessible and user-friendly.
Another point of interest is that organizations have recognized the benefits of the cloud over on-premises systems in terms of cost, agility, resiliency, and capabilities of cloud-first strategies. AI is hastening the shift because it relies on the capabilities of the cloud.
On-premises systems pose a disadvantage as the legal industry continues to embrace AI. Because cloud-based technologies offer more flexibility and scalability, organizations are increasingly accelerating the switch from on-premises systems to cloud-based infrastructure and applications.
Debbie Foster, Chief Executive Office, Affinity — “There's no question that many firms are still heavily dependent on on-premises systems, but it remains unclear how vendors will be able to integrate newer generative AI technology with those legacy systems …” See more
As AI is used to handle more and more routine tasks, legal professionals’ efforts will shift to work that requires critical thinking skills, problem-solving, and domain expertise. As a result, legal departments will become more active in contributing to decision-making, helping shape strategy, and ensuring that legal and ethical considerations are integrated into the fabric of the organization's operations.
Lawyers will increasingly focus on developing case strategy, crafting compelling legal arguments, and providing tailored advice by combining their legal expertise with AI-generated insights. Creativity and persuasion will be key human skills that AI can augment but not replicate. Additionally, as the legal field relies more on AI, ensuring ethics, eliminating bias, auditing algorithms, and preserving accountability will likely emerge as critical oversight functions for lawyers down the road.
Kim Wolfe, Managing Director, Head of Legal Business Solutions, Wells Fargo — “AI and other technologies combined give us an opportunity to create a whole different approach to learning, whether it be simulations or in a more hands-on way, without ever touching the tasks being completed by AI.” See more
The legal landscape is undergoing big changes with the emergence of new automation technologies fueled by AI. Law firms and legal teams across industries with a forward-thinking approach and collaborative partnerships with reliable vendors can gain a competitive edge and provide substantial value.
As the legal sector adjusts, staying informed about emerging technologies, actively incorporating ethical AI, and consistently enhancing skills are essential to staying pertinent in an AI-enabled industry. With the right approach, the promise of AI in law can — and will — be realized responsibly in the years ahead.
Discover much more about what leading voices are saying across the industry and how to prepare for the changes that are coming and those already here. Download the full report:
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Last year, we brought you 23 Legal Technology Insights for 2023. See it here.
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