Three key takeaways from new report, “How generative AI will help lawyers improve legal service delivery.”
Advanced technology like generative AI has a place in legal work.
Eighty-two percent of law firm attorneys surveyed in 2023 believe that generative AI could be applied to legal work. And the in-house counsel they serve want to see law firms using technology in legal service delivery. A Thompson Hine survey found that 96% of law department leaders and legal operations staff wish their law firms would use innovation (like trusted generative AI) to save them money.
So legal professionals see the potential of generative AI and other advanced technologies. How do you get from an interest in the possibilities to seeing the impact of new tools? A new report from Thomson Reuters helps legal professionals see the path forward. Here are three key takeaways from “How generative AI will help lawyers improve legal service delivery.”
Improving client outcomes is more important than simple automation
Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that creates content from scratch. This could be text, music, images, or video. Some knowledge workers have expressed fears that generative AI will eventually put them out of a job because their businesses or clients will be able to do their work without them.
On the contrary. Yes, generative AI can help professionals reduce busy work. But more importantly, it helps them deliver better client outcomes. According to the report, “Some tasks will be automated, but the fundamental transformation will be how legal work is reimagined and improved. AI presents an enormous opportunity for legal because so much of what lawyers do today can be further enhanced with AI, and client outcomes can be improved.”
Rather than replacing legal professionals, generative AI will help them spend time applying their considerable wisdom to legal matters – creating even more value for clients and businesses.
ChatGPT caught our imagination – trusted sources make it real
The generative AI tools we choose make a big difference. Who trained the system? What data is it drawing from?
The answers to these questions determine the likelihood the system will offer up “hallucinations”: perfectly plausible-sounding answers that aren’t based on fact. For lawyers, relying on a hallucination could mean relying on inappropriate or made-up case law, or using model contract clauses that aren’t on market. “While ChatGPT can deliver answers that sound coherent and accurate, this type of AI is really just a sentence-completion engine,” according to the Thomson Reuters report. “ChatGPT has little intelligence but is very good at drafting language that sounds like plausible responses to a user’s prompt. But it’s not always accurate.”
Legal professionals can use generative AI to improve client outcomes and streamline their workload if the AI is drawn from trusted data sources and overseen by experts in the data and legal tasks. Indeed, effective, trustworthy generative AI is comprised of three key elements: the data on which AI operates, the technology that makes it work for specific applications, and the human expertise that directs the technology to practical applications and solutions and informs training and error analysis.
Making sense of the intersection between AI and legal professionals
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Corporate legal departments are leading the way
While the Thompson Hine report showed that 96% of corporate law departments want their outside law firms to use innovation to save them money, only 12% say their primary outside law firms have done so.
Corporate legal departments are keen to use technologies themselves to improve processes and drive efficiency. Over time, they will continue to put pressure on outside counsel to match their pace. According to Thomson Reuters, “The most significant opportunity for law firms to leverage AI [is in] using data and technology to improve the quality and efficiency of the legal services delivered to clients. Leveraging technology has the biggest impact in areas where the capacity of humans to perform legal work has not kept pace with the explosion of data.”
It seems that clients see the greatest possibilities for innovation and efficiency in data-rich practice areas and legal tasks like e-discovery, document drafting, due diligence, transaction management, and legal research.
The report, “How generative AI will help lawyers improve legal service delivery” explores each of these dynamics in depth and explores specific uses of generative AI in legal practice.
Generative AI promises to profoundly change the way legal professionals deliver services. But not every lawyer will benefit equally. According to the report, “The winners among lawyers will not be the ones who passively wait for generative AI tools to come their way. Successful lawyers will understand that their domain knowledge is a competitive advantage as they help deploy AI systems that embody and amplify that knowledge.”
That is, the ones who find the opportunities, rely on trusted tools, and innovate early will reap the greatest benefit.