Welcome to your Law Tech briefing for Aug 25, 2023, covering what happened in legal tech recently.
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Have less than a 1 min? Three takeaways from yesterday
1. Generative AI Applications: Law firms are increasingly incorporating generative AI and machine learning into their operations, as demonstrated by the recent AI-powered features from Elite and DISCO. Key capabilities include simplifying time entry, improving accuracy, and aiding legal review processes. Firms are realizing the potential of digital transformation to improve client engagement and operational efficiency. However, the adoption must remain meticulous, balancing advancements with professional obligations.
2. Emphasis on DEI and ESG Initiatives: In addition to technological transformations, legal firms are putting significant emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives. These actions echo a broader trend towards social responsibility and self-governance in the legal sector.
3. Importance of Accuracy, Security, and Confidentiality: Despite AI's potential, the legal industry is cautiously approaching this transition due to the sensitive nature of the information they handle. Firms are prioritizing accuracy, security, and confidentiality in their AI deployment. As a result, they remain vigilant about AI ethics, data protection, and cybersecurity while embracing new technology.
Here's what happened in legal tech recently...
Key discussions around AI deployment in law sector continued at the International Legal Technology Association's 2023 convention, underlining the need for careful deployment to ensure accuracy, security, and confidentiality. AI capabilities are revolutionizing services of several firms. Elite launched a generative AI time entry feature leveraging Microsoft's machine learning capabilities to simplify time recording and enhance timekeeping accuracy. Legal tech company DISCO introduced Cecilia, an AI solution using large language models for eDiscovery and legal review processes. There were praises for firms such as O’Melveny & Myers, McDermott Will & Emery, and Morgan Lewis for their advanced technology capabilities.
Firms are actively adopting AI and data-centric technologies, as represented by the International Legal Technology Association Conference (ILTACON) and a survey revealing 43% of lawyers are using or plan to use generative AI. Legal firms are not only focusing on technological transformation but also putting a significant emphasis on diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), and environmental, social, governance (ESG) initiatives. Notably, the EU's Digital Services Act (DSA) of 2022, imparting the accountability of content dissemination to companies, reveals a trend towards regulation and self-governance in digital spaces.
Despite AI's potential, the legal industry is approaching this transition carefully, cautious of maintaining accuracy, security, and confidentiality, due to its nature of handling sensitive information. While law firms are being criticized for outdated technology and inefficient systems, the push for digital transformation is prominent, making it a central issue for the sector's businesses. A particular focus on 'work to cash lifecycle' and client engagement clearly suggests that firms are eyeing efficient operations and enhanced client interactions, to remain competitive. While the sector recognizes the necessity of technology upgrade, firms are also understanding that the adoption must be meticulous, maintaining the balance between technological advancement and professional obligations. The deployment of AI and its acceptance in the legal domain, despite resistance due to self-governance concerns, shows its potential for disrupting and improving processes, tasks, and decision-making in the industry. It will be interesting to track the sector's response to this shift, considering the ongoing debates around AI ethics, data protection, and cybersecurity.
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The International Legal Technology Association’s 2023 convention drew attention to the gap between lawyers’ expectations of generative AI and its current capabilities. While AI promises revolution for the law profession, the hype overestimates its preparedness to deliver. As firms seek to implement an "AI strategy", tech-savvy lawyers are caught between the skepticism of their traditionalist colleagues and the overzealous expectations of senior leadership. There is a risk of relegating AI to a meaningless ornament, when it could potentially streamline critical legal tasks. A possible solution for both skeptics and enthusiasts is to trust tech experts who understand the current limits and potential use cases of AI in the practice of law.
The American Lawyer's midlevel survey uncovered dissatisfaction amongst associates about their firm's level of technical innovation. Many lament the disparity between high firm profits and struggling technological infrastructure, such as slow computers and inefficient document management systems. Only 62% of respondents said their firms provided technology training, a drop from 67% the previous year. Frustration stemmed particularly from Biglaw firms like Skadden, WilmerHale, Alston & Bird, Dechert, and Morrison & Foerster who, despite their wealth, have persistent tech issues. Meanwhile, firms such as MoFo and O'Melveny & Myers received higher rankings for their tech competency. This highlights how firms may need to prioritize technological improvements to satisfy associates' needs and expectations.
The article highlights the potential of generative AI in law firms, particularly for streamlining administrative tasks and creating new pricing models. However, it underlines the importance of careful deployment to maintain accuracy, security, and confidentiality. Essential steps include training the large language model (LLM) on reliable data, centralizing work product, and managing knowledge assets. The article also advocates for a revised security approach for knowledge assets to ensure consistency and mitigate business risk.
The article explores the potential application of artificial intelligence (AI) in the legal domain, suggesting it could replace human judges to eliminate bias and extraneous influences. However, the author acknowledges that the legal profession's self-governance may hinder AI's implementation. The author also sees potential for AI in data-driven sectors like finance.
The International Legal Technology Association Conference (ILTACON) is hosting its second-largest event with over 3,400 participants. Topics include the impact of generative AI on the legal industry, no/low code technology, career upskilling, and change management. The conference also focuses on diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), and environmental, social, governance (ESG) initiatives in law firms. Sponsors include Wilson Allen, iManage, Elite, LexisNexis, Anvesa, and Aderant.
Elite, a law firm solutions provider, has launched a generative AI time entry feature for 3E users. Leveraging Microsoft's machine learning capabilities, the feature simplifies time recording, minimizes data-entry mistakes, and enhances timekeeping accuracy. By creating a draft timecard narrative, the AI technology could improve realization rates and expedite the 'work to cash lifecycle'. The feature is accessible for 3E customers using the latest version of the cloud-based Workspace.
Sikich is partnering with Affinity Consulting Group to implement the Litify platform in the legal sector. The collaboration aims to facilitate digital transformation for clients by merging Sikich's LegalTech team's application of Litify's Salesforce-native platform and Affinity's comprehensive business optimization approach. Affinity offers technology optimization solutions to law firms, while Sikich contributes its technical expertise in the implementation of these solutions.
Peppermint Technology has introduced Peppermint Connect Client Engagement, a productivity tool for legal professionals that integrates with Microsoft 365 applications. The software provides a unified interface for client data, tasks, and documents, and aims to streamline data management, enhance workflow, and facilitate decision-making through real-time insights. It also offers tailored engagement channels and improved email and CRM integration.
Legal technology firm DISCO has launched AI Timelines, a tool that automatically generates timelines from existing legal documents to simplify complex disputes. Additionally, DISCO has introduced Cecilia, an AI solution that uses large language models, natural language processing, and generative AI to improve ediscovery and legal review processes. Cecilia is currently available to a select group of customers, with a wider launch expected later this year.
The EU's Digital Services Act (DSA) of 2022 mandates companies with a minimum of 45 million monthly users to manage the dissemination of misinformation, hate speech, and terrorist propaganda. From February, the law will also apply to smaller firms. The DSA, succeeding the General Data Protection Regulation, is part of a wider plan to regulate online activities and improve accountability. Although EU-centric, these laws will affect U.S. companies due to their dealings with EU clients.
The article outlines strategies for law firm owners to overcome challenges and ensure success. Key traits of successful owners include strong business acumen, a reliable team, and a predictable revenue source. The article suggests hiring a business coach, optimizing the client intake process, and investing in marketing. It underscores the necessity of proactive measures to prevent stagnation and promote growth and profitability.
At the ILTACON event, document management firm iManage unveiled its AI tool, iManage AI, integrated into its cloud platform. The system is designed to enhance productivity, protect data, and add value to knowledge assets by classifying and enriching documents, extracting key data like jurisdictions, dates, and parties. The tool also automates metadata tagging, improving document accessibility and usage. iManage has also included strong governance tools to ensure client confidentiality and regulatory compliance.
The International Legal Technology Association Conference (ILTACON) 2023 concluded recently, offering attendees educational sessions, networking opportunities, and insights into legal tech trends. The event also included a reception for interaction with sponsors. Participants are encouraged to stay engaged with the legal tech community through ILTA's online training sessions, webinars, and volunteer opportunities. The next ILTACON is set to take place in Nashville in 2024.
The article highlights the risks of commingling funds in law firms, which can lead to disciplinary action or malpractice claims. It recommends maintaining separate accounts for operating and trust funds, promptly recording transactions, and utilizing digital tools like electronic payment processing and trust accounting software. The article underscores the need for diligence to protect a firm's reputation and meet ethical obligations.
Law firm Troutman Pepper has introduced Athena, a ChatGPT application powered by generative AI, developed in collaboration with Microsoft and Framework Consulting. Athena is designed to assist in drafting marketing materials and legal work, adhering to the firm's policies. The firm's Generative AI Task Force has tested and approved the AI assistant. Mandatory ethics training is required for all users to ensure ethical use of the technology.
Peppermint Technology has introduced a new Business Intake feature to its Client Engagement CRM solution for North American law firms. The additional feature simplifies client and matter onboarding, conflict checking, and risk management. Already in use by UK law firms, the extension to North America is set to enhance efficiency in managing client relationships and interactions.
A survey has found that 43% of lawyers in France, the US, the UK, and Canada are using or plan to use generative AI in their legal work. The study, conducted between March and July, involved 3,752 practicing lawyers, 1,239 law students, and 2,959 consumers. This suggests a growing trend towards the adoption of AI technology in the legal industry.
E&O insurance generally excludes bodily injury claims, but a 1993 case, Search EDP v. American Home Assurance, established that if the injury is due to a professional services failure, the insurer cannot deny the claim. This case law applies in areas using the proximate-cause rule or concurrent causation doctrine, unless the policy has an anti-concurrent causation clause or exclusion.