In the final article of Information Age’s three part series on artificial intelligence in the legal industry, we look at how law firms can adopt AI and if AI represents the future of law.
This series has been taken an extensive look – with the help of Geoffrey Vance, the chair of Perkins Coie’s E-Discovery Services and Strategy Practice, and Alvin Lindsay, partner at Hogan Lovells – at how technology can disrupt a traditional industry, and emphasised the point that ‘every company is a technology company’.
In the first of this three part series on AI in legal industry, we looked at what the stage of AI adoption in law, and how it is – if at all – creating a more strategic role for associates in law firms.
The article established that AI adoption was at a fairly early stage, although its use is not a new phenomenon. It also became clear that, as suggested by a report from ALM Intelligence, AI will be crucial in helping law firms overcome challenges and survive moving forward.
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The second part of the series looked at AI’s broader role within the legal industry, with specific case studies from Perkins Coie and Hogan Lovells. We found that AI has a role to play across the legal industry, in different departments, in order to reduce cost and free up resources.
It was also noted that the presence of a CTO was required to successfully integrate AI into a law practice. With adopting any technology, a CTO is needed to outline the business benefits, build a team to get the job done and roll out the strategy. In practice this should be done one department at a time, and not rushed across a whole company.
The rise of the CTO in law
As the legal industry begins to embrace technologies like AI, the need for someone to manage the technical side will increase. This will lead to a rise of CTOs, CIOs and head’s of technology in law firms.
The reasons for embracing? As mentioned, this surrounds reducing costs, freeing up resources, driving efficiencies and improving the service to the client.
“Collaborating with clients needs to be easy. To achieve this, someone needs to be worried about the future roadmap for technology and how it can be used to achieve the firm’s strategy as it evolves,” said Patrick O’Reilly, IT client services director for APAC at Clifford Chance – for ALB Intelligence.
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“You need an owner for your technology roadmap,” said O’Reilly. “This could be a CTO, a CIO, global head of architect or a global head of infrastructure. Everything depends on the size of the firm, its global reach and its level of IT sophistication. A small local firm wouldn’t typically have a CTO role, so this might fall to the IT manager. It really depends on your client base and what they are demanding.”
The need for a chief technology officer is also increasing in the face of the risks posed from cyber attacks. “Protecting the data of our clients and our firm is a top priority, and we have a strong information risk management system in place for this purpose,” said Andrew Stoutley, administrative director at Thailand-headquartered Tilleke & Gibbins – for ALB Intelligence.
The role of the CTO should focus on identifying a business’ pain points and then adopting a technology/ies to combat these problems. It is becoming increasingly evident that the adoption of artificial intelligence will benefit the legal industry industry in the long run.
Adopting AI in the legal industry
“Act now; be patient; be persistent and drive it from the top down,” said Vance. “AI is not just the future, it’s the now.”
“Your clients use it every day. Many of your clients are in the business of creating new AI products and services. The business case is an easy one to make. Make the decision and make sure the top levels of your management support and advocate for the use of AI.”
Lindsay, however, argues that it is not simply a case of ‘adopting’ AI. When speaking to Information Age, he said that AI product or service can’t be purchased or licensed on an a-la-carte basis.
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“The important thing,” he said, “is for law firms to realise that because of the exponential growth of computer power coupled with the availability of large stores of information, AI will inevitably creep more and more into what we do every day.”
“We as lawyers don’t want to suddenly realise that something we have done for years can now be done faster, more effectively, and cheaper by a computer.”
“One way to protect ourselves, is to be aware of the data law firms generate and protect that data from encroachment by others. I’m convinced, for example, that even the keystrokes of ivy-league educated associates doing legal research on Westlaw or Lexis have value. But there are other data points, like case outcomes, contract performance, and business evaluations, that law firms manage every day that could be valuable in assisting computer analysis. Law firms, therefore, should learn to recognise, protect and harness that type of intellectual property.”
The future of artificial intelligence in the legal industry
As with any other business, in any other industry, failing to innovate and improve will lead to extinction. Transform or die.
“The law firms that adopt AI will uniformly be more cost-effective than those who don’t, and the adopters will also be more successful for their clients than those who aren’t,” said Vance.
“AI will soon become the standard.”
“Those who don’t have and use it will, by definition, be sub-standard and in turn will be left behind by their clients, their competitors and the entire legal industry.”
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Those that don’t adopt AI will fall behind their competitors, lose their clients and be entirely disrupted.
As mentioned in part 2 of this series, and something that is widely reported, AI may pose a risk to jobs, in that it will replace much of the work that people do.
“This is why I recommend to everyone (including non-lawyers like my college-age daughters) that to compete in the future, they will need to be able to understand the technology, use it to innovate and be sure to maintain its accountability,” said Lindsay. “Only then, will they be able to work and grow to the point where they can provide that uniquely human judgment and wisdom.”
This concludes Information Age’s Artificial Intelligence in the Legal Industry series. I would like to thank both Geoff Vance from Perkins Coie and Al Lindsay from Hogan Lovells – for the insights that helped deliver this series. The next 3-part series will focus on Cyber Security in the Energy Sector