A revolution of sorts is afoot, and it’s starting to overtake the legal industry. We’re talking about artificial intelligence (AI) and how it is making its way into law firms all over the country and indeed the world, changing the very fundamentals of how lawyers are going about their work. Today’s young attorneys would be wise to learn about AI in the legal sphere and how they can prepare themselves to manage the change.
Generally, lawyers will come across two kinds of AI: reactive and limited memory. Reactive AIs respond to human input with pre-determined algorithms, such as a game of chess played against the computer. Limited memory AIs rely on pre-programmed inputs and the AI’s observations over time, such as with self-driving cars, natural language processors (think: Siri), and machine learning. Machine learning happens to be the most popular within the legal industry.
Essentially, this is the science of ensuring computers can learn and act as humans do, improving their learning over time by being fed data, observations and real-world interactions. This represents a big change from traditional software, based on the fact that it utilizes inductive rather than deductive reasoning.
Once it is given a sufficient amount of information (such as a million Word documents), it can intuit the basic rules that are most likely to apply to anyone document. For example, a spell check can adapt to each user’s writing style, resulting in recommendations that are based on the English language, to be sure, but also on someone’s particular writing style. Not only that, it can edit a Word document, sure, but it can also create a document based on what the lawyer and client requirements, as it is already familiar with the structure, format, and style of the requested document, says the ABA.
Preparing for AI in Law Firms
As AI tools become more advanced and integrated, young attorneys must prepare for this exciting new legal landscape. Many in the industry think traditional legal paths will become obsolete with the addition of AI, but this simply isn’t true. It will free up lawyers’ time that could be better spent on investigating cases and integrating with clients.
Attorneys should take the time now to prepare for AI integration by becoming familiar with the technology and how it works, vowing to grow with the new legal culture these changes will bring. Becoming technologically sophisticated will help them understand the benefits and drawbacks of software tools so they know how they work, where errors can crop up, and how to discuss these effects of these tools with more technologically-sophisticated professionals, such as developers and IT.
Attorneys must also start getting familiar with legal writing to improve their drafting skills. In essence, writing proficiency and technological proficiency will go hand in hand.
With knowledge of AI, attorneys can select the best tool and realize the best way to use those tools for each client and case. Working with the right AI tools, attorneys can foster greater knowledge of fitting AI work products to meet and exceed client needs. As this process becomes familiar, attorneys can display far-reaching legal skill that’s traditionally been reserved for more experienced, and older, attorneys.
A Focus on Strategy
Today’s lawyers must also focus on the human element of the legal practice rather than the technical. AI is still really only capable of performing technical work. But while AI will certainly exceed at the technical aspects of the law, this doesn’t mean attorney input can go by the wayside. Their input is still needed in order to relate the clients’ goals to the machine’s tasks. This means they will have to emphasize strategic guidance over tactical performance.
Attorneys trained in tactical performance know how to make a reasoned and informed recommendation. But that takes time, effort and energy to do thoroughly. This process can easily be automated and augmented with AI tools.
The Millennial Shift
The so-called Millennial Shift offers up a great competitive opportunity for today’s law firms. In the past, firms had to compete for talent mainly through dollars. But now with the Millennial Attorney’s emphasis being on different values, law firms can compete for talent in a multitude of ways. The Millennial Attorney will be attracted to law firms that value technology and process improvement to increase efficiency. The Millennial Attorney will also value proactive communication and collaborative strategic decision-making, better project management, and intellectual curiosity.
Millennial Attorneys will indeed work hard to accomplish the firm’s goals; however, if they get wind of a less strenuous, more efficient method of achieving similar results, they’ll explore it and even insist on it. They will want to switch up an age-old process so they don’t have to work as hard, whether through the use of AI technology or better coordination among team members. A desire for increased efficiency: this is what the next generation of lawyers wants. AI can meet that desire.
Evisort is here to help young lawyers fit in seamlessly with emerging technology. Get in touch now for a free demo to see how AI can automate many time-consuming tasks, including contract management.