Welcome to your Law Tech weekly briefing covering what happened in legal tech last week.
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Takeaways from the key stories
Each week, our human editors highlight a number of "key stories" because they are interesting, impactful, or something that is simply worth paying attention to. Here is what we learned from those stories...
Last week was packed with significant events and developments at the intersection of law and technology. A Harvard Business School study highlighted the benefits and limitations of generative AI like GPT-4 for knowledge workers, emphasizing the increased productivity and quality achieved within the AI capabilities frontier. However, the study also emphasized caution towards over-reliance on tasks outside of this. The Harvard Law AI Summit brought together renowned thinkers to discuss AI's expanding presence in the legal field and its implications. Meanwhile, law firm Taylor Wessing ventured into the world of blockchain with an employee rewards system.
Several major trends emanated from these events. The primary trend is a growing recognition of the potential and limits of AI in law. This acknowledges the productivity boosts possible but also the need for a delicate balance – acknowledging AI's limitations and risk of exacerbating legal disparities or unemployment. The Harvard summit emphasized these concerns, casting AI as a tool for justice but one that needs careful control. Another prominent trend is the expanding legal-technology interaction, best exemplified by Taylor Wessing's adoption of blockchain technology for employee incentives. This highlights a move towards integrating technology into the core operations of a law firm, as well as aiming to expose lawyers to cutting-edge technology trends.
The recent developments indicate both excitement and challenges for legal professionals. The Harvard study suggests AI can indeed improve efficiency and work quality in many legal tasks, providing significant leverage, especially in a post-pandemic, more digitized world. Legal departments and firms can potentially benefit massively, provided they stay within the 'AI capabilities frontier'. However, an over-reliance on AI might underestimate its current capability limits – and may have consequences such as the risks of incorrect legal decisions. The Harvard Law AI Summit underscored that AI is not a magical cure-all for the justice system, urging legal professionals to acknowledge its complexity. It emphasized ethical issues such as job displacement and potential AI-driven inequality - hinting at potentially drastic changes in legal landscapes. Taylor Wessing's venture into blockchain signals a continued integration of new technologies into legal practices – forcing legal professionals to familiarize themselves with these technologies. Their initiative, marrying employee recognition and blockchain technology, is an inventive way to encourage learning while boosting morale. In essence, the acceptance and adoption of these technologies illustrate the transformative period the legal industry is in, driving legal professionals to adapt and innovate. But it also underscores the need for ethical and practical caution. Legal professionals should not only keep abreast of the ongoing tech trends but also understand the implications and potential impact on their practice and the wider legal system.
Takeaways from all the other stories
Many shifts and developments are underway in the legal industry this month that ultimately revolve around technology, regulation, and business practices. Law firm DLA Piper has embarked on a significant tech transition by moving to the iManage Cloud in the UK and EMEA region. SaaS platform Kim, has achieved SOC 2 Type 1 compliance certification, furthering its message of secure and efficient data handling. In regulatory news, the California Legislature has approved a bill requiring companies to establish workplace violence prevention plans, while issues related to the use of generative AI in business practices are beginning to affect cyber insurance policies. Legal entrepreneurship and the development of AI tools have also seen a noteworthy shift, with the MyCase founder going on to create Lawmatics, a client relationship management platform for law firms, and Macfarlanes adopting HarveyAI.
The role of technology in legal practices continues to be a major trend across these stories. Law firms are focusing on transitioning to cloud-based systems, ensuring increased data security, and adopting AI tools for administrative tasks to increase productivity and client service quality. Alongside this, companies are being forced to reassess their insurance plans in accordance with the evolving AI market. Similarly, firms are fully embracing SaaS platforms that come with robust cybersecurity certifications.
For legal professionals, these trends signal a future heavily centered around technology and AI utilities. Firms need to adapt and integrate technological advancements into their systems, notably through cloud migration and AI applications. Additionally, legal professionals must stay updated with the new challenges and responsibilities emerging from AI use, both at the workplace and in serving clients. In the regulatory framework, stricter rules are being laid down to safeguard employee rights, which will require legal professionals to be well-versed with these regulations and attend to their client's needs accordingly. Professionals, especially in the corporate sector, must be aware of workplace safety laws and their implications on the company and employees. Moreover, the emergence of new AI tools and, consequently, new businesses opens up possibilities for collaboration and improvement of existing services. As the legal profession becomes more technologically advanced, attention to cybersecurity becomes paramount—something legal professionals and firms need to be conscious of when choosing services and tools for their practice. This all underscores the necessity for legal professionals to stay informed, stay adaptable, and stay ahead in this rapidly evolving landscape.
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A recent study by Harvard Business School and Boston Consulting Group highlighted the powerful impact of generative AI on task efficiency and quality in knowledge work sectors. The study found that participants using AI, specifically the GPT-4 language model, completed 12.2% more tasks and did so 25.1% faster than those without access to AI. Furthermore, the work produced by the AI-assisted group was of significantly higher quality. This suggests promising implications for AI application in legal departments and law firms, where adoption of AI technology is already gaining momentum. However, the study also advised caution, as tasks beyond the current scope of AI saw users make more errors, heavily reliant on AI assistance. Despite this, the overall findings offer encouragement for professionals skeptical about AI's capacity to aid high-end legal work.
The Harvard Law AI Summit recently concluded, with discussions focused on the increasingly critical role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the legal sector. Experts argued that whilst AI could significantly enhance legal access for self-representatives, it could potentially overburden the present court system. It was suggested that courts must leverage generative AI to improve their efficiency in handling such an influx. Moreover, AI was recognized as a tool that could empower ordinary citizens with handling their legal matters. However, there were also concerns about the expensiveness of current generative AI tools possibly perpetuating inequality within the legal system. The subjectivity and ambiguity concerning generative AI's operation also remained a major concern; hence, efforts are underway to make 'black box' AI more transparent and its evidentiary decisions justifiably understandable. It was an enlightening discussion on the future of AI in the legal landscape.
Global law firm Taylor Wessing recently unveiled an employee incentive program operated using distributed ledger technology (DLT), believed to be the first of its kind in the legal industry. The program offers micro-incentives to lawyers and will enhance the firm's leading blockchain, digital asset, and cryptocurrency practice. Known as "LAW Tokens", these incentives are minted on Polygon, a second-layer Ethereum scaling platform. The tokens can only be transferred between preapproved individuals within the firm, preventing the formation of a secondary market. Plans for further innovations are already in progress, with the initiative marking an attempt to familiarize staff with DLT technology and its unique attributes, which are vital to many of Taylor Wessing's clients.
DLA Piper's CIO, Paul Gilford, confirmed the law firm's transition to the iManage Cloud across the UK and EMEA, which is expected to be completed by 2024. This decision, made in June, is part of a strategic shift to move all possible systems to the cloud. The transition, led by iManage, followed a lengthy due diligence process and aims to enhance performance, especially in document accessibility.
UK-based no-code SaaS platform, Kim, has achieved SOC 2 Type 1 compliance certification for its cloud-hosted platform, reflecting its commitment to data security and customer privacy. This certification is a high standard in the SaaS industry and complements Kim's existing IS27001 accreditation, further demonstrating the company's dedication to secure and efficient service delivery.
The California Legislature has approved SB 553, a bill requiring companies to develop workplace violence prevention plans, effective from January 2025. The legislation mandates employers to keep records of violent incidents and train employees on reporting such events. It also grants union representatives the right to seek temporary restraining orders for workers subjected to violence. The bill was prompted by a 2021 shooting at a Santa Clara Valley railyard and is currently awaiting Governor Gavin Newsom's approval.
Legal technology consultancy Pinnacle is extending its reach to the APAC region, appointing former Ashurst executive Scott Sonter as principal consultant. The expansion aims to offer in-time-zone support to its global clients and regional firms, who previously relied on out-of-time-zone assistance. This move follows Pinnacle's successful growth in the US, UK, and Europe.
The article highlights the significance of networking for lawyers and offers strategies to build a professional network. It suggests lawyers should focus on personal interests, professional organizations, and community involvement to form genuine connections. The author warns against participating in activities that don't align with personal interests, as it may appear inauthentic. The article also stresses the importance of being strategic about networking locations and that lawyers can start building their network at any stage of their career.
UnternehmerTUM is holding a conference, "How to Build a Legal Tech Unicorn", on 27th September in Munich. The event will focus on the development of disruptive businesses, featuring speakers from Celonis, Siemens Healthineers, and Henchman. The conference will also mark the first anniversary of the Legal Tech Colab, a hub for law-related start-ups, and will highlight the start-ups that the Colab has supported in the past year.
U.S. sale leaseback transactions dropped by 49% to $5.125 billion, down from $10.4 billion the previous year, as reported by SLB Capital Advisors. This decrease is partially attributed to a decrease in mergers and acquisitions activity, which often utilize sale leasebacks for financing. The most significant transaction of the quarter was Realty Income's acquisition of up to 415 single-tenant convenience store properties from the U.K.'s EG Group, valued at $1.5 billion.
Louise Pentland, previously chief business affairs and legal officer at PayPal, has been named chief counsel for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products at The Walt Disney Company. She will handle all legal and regulatory issues for the segment, including theme parks, cruise lines, and e-commerce platforms. The appointment comes as Disney plans a $60 billion investment in the segment over the next ten years and amidst a legal dispute with Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis.
McCarter & English Partner, Steven Weisman, advises companies to review their cyber insurance policies to confirm coverage of liabilities resulting from generative AI use. General liability policies may also cover copyright infringement issues, especially as AI tools such as ChatGPT are being utilized more for drafting memos and contracts. Microsoft has committed to covering legal expenses for Copilot AI tool users facing infringement claims.
ILTA CEO Joy Heath Rush and CLOC President Mike Haven plan to collaborate to address challenges in the legal industry, including the use of generative AI. They aim to leverage their organizations, ILTA (International Legal Technology Association) and CLOC (Corporate Legal Operations Consortium), to conduct a corporate legal survey and organize future conferences. Their collaboration seeks to provide benefits to the wider legal industry.
Former criminal defense lawyer Matt Spiegel transitioned into legal tech entrepreneurship, founding MyCase in 2009, a cloud-based law practice management company, which he sold in 2012. In 2017, Spiegel founded Lawmatics, a client relationship management platform for law firms. Since its creation, Lawmatics has raised $12.5 million in funding, broadened its platform capabilities, and incorporated AI features to aid in crafting and editing client emails and marketing campaigns.
Warner Norcross + Judd LLP, a corporate law firm, will utilize Intapp's Risk & Compliance cloud solutions to upgrade its risk management and compliance procedures. The AI-driven tools will aid in conflict resolution and client guideline enforcement, streamline client onboarding, simplify reporting, and expedite deal acceptance by reducing manual conflict reviews. The firm, which already uses Intapp Time for timekeeping, expects the integration to meet complex client needs and enhance the client experience.
Legal technology and consulting firm Pinnacle is broadening its operations into the APAC region, spearheaded by new hire Scott Sonter, former Head of Finance Systems at Ashurst. Sonter, an industry veteran with over two decades of experience, will serve as the Principal Consultant for APAC, offering localised solutions to clients. This expansion is part of Pinnacle's ongoing growth strategy, following its successful growth in the US, UK, and Europe.
UK law firm Macfarlanes is adopting HarveyAI, an artificial intelligence (AI) tool for legal tasks, following a successful pilot with over 70 lawyers. The AI tool uses natural language processing, machine learning, and data analytics to automate and improve legal tasks including contract analysis and regulatory compliance. Macfarlanes expects this tool to revolutionize how they deliver client services and solutions.
LegalOn, an AI contract review tech provider, is entering the contract drafting sector with over 100 attorney-drafted templates. These templates, which cover standard agreements and industry-specific contracts, aim to speed up the drafting process and are constantly updated for legal changes. They can be edited in Microsoft Word within LegalOn at no additional charge. An AI Revise feature, which turns AI suggestions into contract revisions, is also offered by LegalOn.
The new Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule requiring public companies to report cybersecurity incidents within four days has increased responsibilities and potential liabilities for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs). According to Proofpoint's annual report, 62% of CISOs have expressed concern about potential liability related to incident response and corporate governance. This rule has also led companies to seek additional liability protection for their risk executives.
More than half of U.S. workers use generative AI in their jobs, even though 75% of companies do not have measures in place to mitigate AI-related risks, a Conference Board survey reveals. Despite this, 55% of employees believe AI matches human work quality and 63% say it enhances productivity. However, only 26% report their companies have established rules for AI use. By 2030, CFOs are projected to spend $79 billion annually on AI automation tools, especially in security, health, and content marketing.
The Orange Rag, a prominent legal technology news outlet, is compiling stories for its upcoming issue, covering the past one and a half months. Individuals or firms wishing to have their news featured should reach out to email@example.com. The publication also welcomes new subscribers, promoting broader engagement within the legal tech community.
The article offers strategies for lawyers to manage time effectively and deliver high-quality services. These include setting clear objectives, using the Eisenhower Matrix to sort tasks by urgency and importance, utilizing time management techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique and time-blocking, delegating tasks, and demonstrating flexibility in overcoming prioritization challenges. These strategies can boost productivity, minimize stress, and heighten professional satisfaction and client contentment.