Attorney to Co-Founder: A Journey to Unlock GenAI’s Potential in Legal Tech

Ozan Yalti
April 4, 2024

I left Clifford Chance to co-found a legal technology company shortly before the generative AI boom. As a lawyer “learning by fire” the benefits and impact that technology can have on an industry like legal, I’ve made an important observation about genAI adoption at firms: Combining the power of LLMs with the institutional, private data of law firms is critical to the success and industry-wide adoption of GenAI in law. 

As GenAI technology evolves, so does our understanding of the 'golden standard' of what technology can achieve in the legal field. However, achieving the golden standard of GenAI is contingent upon its ability to leverage an attorney’s past work, because AI technology is only as powerful as the input that it uses to generate a result.

GenAI must be tailored to harness the insights from past legal transactions, reflect client-specific preferences and working styles, and leverage institutional knowledge. A one-size-fits-all approach, like ChatGPT, falls short, particularly when clients have specific requirements.

Here’s an example – During my time at Clifford Chance, while representing a major player in energy projects, I encountered firsthand the intricacies of client demands regarding financial covenants. My client had highly specific requirements for the financial covenants they could accept.

If I were to have written to ChatGPT, “I’m representing a borrower, draft financial covenants that are more borrower friendly”, it would have produced clauses that were too generic and that did not reflect my client’s specific requirements. This, in turn, would have made my drafting more complicated and time-consuming; I would have wasted hours revising poorly drafted clauses that did not meet the nuanced needs of my client.

Only by exposing LLMs to the deal history of clients in a secure environment can GenAI become intelligent to client-specific needs – allowing it to provide language that matches client preference in the same way that an attorney can learn to understand client preferences over time. 

When GenAI is fine-tuned to the linguistic patterns and peculiarities of specific clients, its relevance and utility skyrocket. It becomes a dynamic tool, capable of generating solutions tailored to individual client requirements.

As firms strategize their approach to legal technology, my recommendation is to embrace the latest advancements in GenAI, while acknowledging that the true potential for technology to revolutionize the legal industry is at the critical fusion of legal expertise and technological innovation.

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