LegalTech is rapidly changing Big Law as we know it. With so many new advancements, it can be hard to keep track of what’s trending in the tech side of the legal industry. On top of that, many firms are becoming increasingly digital.
This can all be quite confusing for someone who’s just starting out. That’s why we at DraftWise want to provide some insights into the ever-changing realm of LegalTech, and what you should know about it before starting a new law job.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The adoption of AI by law firms is probably the most impactful and controversial trend the industry has seen in recent years. AI can retrieve, review, analyze, and redline data that range from long bodies of text to complex legal concepts in a matter of seconds. As a result, it’s able to generate its own written paragraphs with a low margin of error within a short amount of time (merely seconds).
Generative AI tools are being used to assist associates during the drafting and negotiation processes. It can extract data and precedent that can be crucial evidence needed for building a case, saving the amount of time lawyers spend on research. Additionally, it can perform tedious legal tasks that have previously been time-consuming.
Want to ask your practice about using AI tools but don’t know how? Here are a few ways you can ask your practice leadership or Knowledge Management team:
- Do attorneys at our firm use any knowledge insights tools to help understand past precedents or historically approved clauses?
- I know that we shouldn’t use ChatGPT or other publicly available AI tools for firm deliverables – do we use any secure tools that might offer similar capabilities?
- Is there an innovation task force that I can join to help test and experiment with upcoming generative AI tools or resources for our practice?
The surge in remote and hybrid work showed the importance of having easy access to data and the flexibility that comes with it, especially at times when associates need to do complete work outside of the office. Cloud computing lets firms store any documents they may have all in one place and allows them to share them with colleagues seamlessly. Firms can easily access and utilize cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) products, increasing the variety of tools their attorneys can access when producing critical client products (case reviews, contracts, negotiations, etc.).
Cloud-based platforms are easier to implement than tech that must be implemented on-premise, as they’re cheaper to install and are less technically involved. Plus, the process of onboarding and off-boarding attorneys on this tech is more straightforward.
Virtual Legal Assistants (VLAs)
You’ve probably seen them each time you enter a website, usually in the bottom-right corner of the home page. These chatbots, which are powered by AI, converse with users and answer any questions they may have in real-time. According to the American Bar Association, VLAs build on neural network computing models to “harness the power of deep learning.”
This frees up a lot of time for real assistants to focus on more pressing tasks than having to answer FAQs. If the VLA is unable to answer a question, they’ll then send it over to another, more suitable department to help respond. VLAs have shown to be a highly efficient, swift, and client-centered inclusion to the workflow of a law firm.
Although this might not be applicable to the work associates will do at their firms, it’s important to keep tabs on what VLAs can do as the tech continues to develop.
Data Security and Privacy
Concerns over privacy and keeping data secure have long been a pressing concern for the legal industry. As cyberattacks continue to rise and data (both public and private) become increasingly more intrinsic to the legal practices of a firm, lawyers are looking for solutions to protect client information when data sharing among colleagues. There’s an ongoing debate over national privacy laws in regard to business lawyers, as new rules play catch up to different tech innovations like facial recognition.
Law firms should seek to update preventative measures such as incorporating malware and ransomware to take action against any future security threats. Along with that, any policies involving data protection should be revised to better reflect the changes in tech. This will help prepare your firm for any potential issues and prevent any reputational damage a security breach may cause. While this will be the responsibility of your firm’s IT team, it’s still good to know about the dangers that are out there and how other firms are addressing them.
Automation has become more widely adopted by lawyers in recent years, mainly due to the pandemic. Although it’s not new to the legal world, it’s been highly efficient in helping lawyers complete various assignments and duties. Gartner reports that by 2024, “legal departments will have automated 50% of legal work related to major corporate transactions.” It’s similar to how tech like AI handles manual tasks that are often repetitive and take up precious time.