Walking the Ethical Tightrope of AI in Legal Practice

Efforts to increase diversity in legal technology, ethical use of AI, and challenges in cybersecurity operations are shaping the modern legal landscape. Navigating these changes requires tech-savvy law firms with robust data literacy.

Welcome to your Law Tech briefing for July 31, 2023, covering what happened in legal tech recently.

TLDR; Listen instead:

Have less than a 1 min? Three takeaways from yesterday

  1. Legal professionals need to embrace diversity and technology, focusing on actively incorporating diverse viewpoints within technology and legal sectors and supporting participation in STEM amongst children. This also includes understanding and managing cybersecurity operations through tools like robust cyber insurance policies and meeting client-mandated compliance standards.
  2. There is a pressing need to engage with the ethical implications of evolving AI technology. As AI becomes increasingly integrated into not only law but also other industries, it's imperative for legal experts to critically address the use of AI and its impact on work-life balance for attorneys and the ability to maintain ethical standards.
  3. Law firms must prioritize enhancing tech-related knowledge within legal departments. As the legal landscape continues to digitize, improving data literacy and technology skills is key. Law firms must adapt to technology not only to remain competitive but also to uphold legal and ethical standards. This includes considering the change toward effective regulation of AI and the balance between self-regulation within the tech industry, and the introduction of external legal measures.


Here's what happened in LegalTech recently... UK society DELTAS, which advocates for diversity in legal technology and security, continues to promote involvement in STEM sectors for girls and children broadly. Amid a national school funding crisis, their work involving school visits, providing resources, and hosting office tours has become even more crucial. Meanwhile, managing the challenges of cybersecurity operations remains a concern among law firms. A podcast by Graham Holt of Arctic Wolf offered insights into navigating these hurdles, including maintaining a robust cyber insurance policy, handling false positives, and meeting client-mandated compliance standards.


The continuous advancements in AI technology are pushing legal ethics boards to their limit, leading to a 'cultural lag' as warned by Megan Zavieh. These developments have also resulted in an increased dependence on technology, raising questions about the ethical use of AI and its impact on work-life balance for attorneys. Meanwhile, industries beyond legal are seeing the potential benefits of AI. The entertainment business now recognizes the need for detailed contract reviews coupled with the adoption of AI-powered tools for efficiency. Yet, for some, the slow adoption rates of cloud-based legal systems among medium-sized law firms, as highlighted in Clio's 2023 Legal Trends report, have caused concerns.


The modern legal landscape is undergoing significant digital shifts. Law firms are being pressured to stay technologically savvy but at the same time, are wrestling with challenges around ethical data practices and information security. Therefore, it's critical for firms to foster relationships with IT and data science experts to navigate these changes adeptly. Indeed, as Olga Mack from LexisNexis opines, improving data literacy and technology skills within legal departments is key to maintaining pace with the increasingly digitized, data-driven business environment. Furthermore, as the field of AI continues to evolve, there are discussions on the need for effective regulation. Critics question the self-regulatory capacity of the tech industry, and some legal experts suggest a tort-based approach. Thus, the question is not whether law firms must adapt to technology but how they can do so sustainably and ethically, balancing the need for competitiveness with the preservation of legal and ethical standards.


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Key stories

Clio’s 2023 Legal Trends for Mid-Sized Law Firms Report Reveals Increased Business Growth, Lower Lawyer Satisfaction Rates (Legal Technology News - Legal IT Professionals | Everything legal technology)

Clio's 2023 Legal Trends for Mid-Sized Law Firms report indicates positive business growth for these firms but reveals lower satisfaction rates amongst their lawyers. Despite achieving better work-life balance, lawyers from these firms are more resistant to remote work and flexible work schedules when compared to their counterparts in smaller firms. The report also focuses on the technological advancements among mid-size firms, which seem to be lagging behind smaller firms in adopting cloud-based technology. These firms have seen a significant increase in casework and raised their hourly rates by 17% since 2019. However, it's troubling to note that a significant number of lawyers at mid-sized firms are considering leaving their jobs, with dissatisfaction cited as a major reason. The data suggests that although business metrics look good for mid-sized firms, they need to address employee dissatisfaction and underutilization of modern technology to stay competitive.

All stories

TalkingTech Podcast: Delivering exceptional cybersecurity in the face of real-world challenges (Legal IT Insider)

Law firms are facing challenges in maintaining robust security operations, including staff retention, obtaining cyber insurance, meeting client-driven compliance requirements, and handling false positives in threat detection, according to a podcast by Graham Holt, Arctic Wolf’s UK & Ireland sales director. The podcast also highlighted how Arctic Wolf is tackling these issues, citing their work with a specific UK client.

How to Motivate Remote Workers: 5 Secret Hacks You’ll Love (Attorney at Work)

The article offers advice on motivating remote employees, emphasizing personal gestures and human communication. Suggestions include handwritten notes, team-building events, art therapy exercises such as Zentangle doodling, and team merchandise. The author highlights the importance of personal touches in maintaining morale and productivity in remote work settings.

I Walk The Line: Legal Ethics & The Impact Of Technology On Lawyer Burnout (Technology Archives - Above the Law)

Legal ethics boards are struggling to keep pace with rapid technology advancements, including AI, causing a 'cultural lag', according to legal expert Megan Zavieh. On the Non-Eventcast, Zavieh discussed the ethical use of AI by lawyers, communication boundaries, and the pandemic's impact on technology reliance. She also highlighted how appropriate technology can alleviate attorney stress and burnout.

AI Update: Sam Altman Isn’t In It For The Money, AI Companies Attempt Self-Regulation, Tort Law For AI (Technology Archives - Above the Law)

The Frontier Model Forum, a group of private firms like Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI, aims to regulate the development of advanced AI models. Critics, however, doubt the tech industry's ability to self-regulate, while legal experts propose a tort-based approach to AI regulation. The rise of AI in the entertainment industry has led to calls for careful contract review and the adoption of AI-powered legal assistant tools in law firms for improved efficiency.

The case for a multidisciplinary data division in Legal (Legal Dive - Latest News)

Olga Mack, VP at LexisNexis and CEO of CounselLink CLM, advises legal departments to improve their data literacy and technology skills to keep up with the digitized, data-driven business environment. She recommends fostering relationships with IT and data science experts, maintaining a comprehensive data map, and promoting responsible data practices. This approach will help legal teams manage risk, navigate evolving legal requirements, and handle complex ethical data challenges.