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Law Practice Magazine

The Big Ideas Issue

Chair’s Perspective

Mary E Vandenack

Summary

  • AI can assist with contract reviewing, drafting, and management.
  • AI helps in composing emails, ensuring they are well-written and courteous, which is particularly useful for managing a high volume of emails.
Chair’s Perspective
iStock.com/Liudmila Chernetska

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Innovation in the legal profession has been a topic of the Big Ideas issue for many years. As artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming the legal profession, this issue becomes even more important in identifying and supporting lawyers with respect to how the delivery of legal services is being further revolutionized.

Some lawyers express concern about being replaced by AI. Certainly, some aspects of what we do will be replaced by AI, but the savvy lawyer will learn how to add it as another tool in the toolbox.

We have long sought improved document review. AI provides opportunities to streamline document review processes and ensure accuracy and consistency. Due diligence tasks can be expedited by using AI tools.

AI can assist with contract reviewing, drafting and management. Natural language processing can extract key terms and clauses.

AI algorithms can perform many tasks faster than human lawyers. Such tasks may include legal research and analyzing documents. Automation reduces manual workloads and allows legal professionals to focus on higher value tasks.

One of my personal favorite features of AI is its ability to write email for me. I deal with a high volume of email. Due to that high volume, I often get told that my emails come off as brusque, which is mostly because I am simply trying to get as many answered as quickly as possible. If I must send an email to an employee explaining that I need a better written document, I can ask AI to fluff up my email and explain the issue kindly. 

I also use AI daily to assist with answering client questions. I might know an area well but want a quick refresher of key points on the topic of discussion. I do not use this strategy on a topic with which I am unfamiliar.

As with any other technology, AI should be embraced as part of the legal technology ecosystem. The tools range from chatbots to advanced analytic platforms. As AI evolves, we may be able to make more progress in alternative business models for law as well.

As with any technology, use of AI requires close attention to challenges and ethical considerations. When using an AI system, it is important to be aware of whether client data is protected. Inadvertent waivers of privilege must be protected. Other ethical issues that are raised involve competence, supervision and unauthorized practice.

Competence requires that lawyers using AI understand how it works so that they can avoid being the subject of significant press and sanctions for submitting a brief created by AI that cited fake cases.

The Law Practice Division has long been encouraging innovation and advancement in the use of technology. Early in that history, it seemed to often fall on deaf ears. I’m proud to say that innovation has become a buzzword in law firm circles and many law firms are now dedicated to innovation and evolution. 

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