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Law Technology Today


Roadmap to Generative AI Adoption – Now, Next, Future

Alex Smith


  • Generative AI Adoption, ChatGPT, document management system, large language models.
  • Should we be getting on board with generative AI? Are we even ready to get on board with generative AI?
  • Firms can ensure that they can get started with generative AI and take advantage of its benefits without making too many wrong turns along the way. 
Roadmap to Generative AI Adoption – Now, Next, Future

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This article is sponsored by iManage

ChatGPT might have been the first company to burst open the generative AI floodgates, but an increasing number of vendors are incorporating this technology into their offerings, leaving law firms to wonder: what now? Should we be getting on board with generative AI? Are we even ready to get on board with generative AI? 

In situations like this, it pays to have a roadmap. By carefully following it, firms can ensure that they can get started with generative AI and take advantage of its benefits without making too many wrong turns along the way. 

Now: Ask the questions 

Before jumping into generative AI simply to jump into generative AI, firms should take the time to ask: What business problems are we actually trying to solve – and where can AI assist with those problems? What are the high value applications of AI, and which applications are more or less cosmetic?  

This might sound like straightforward advice, but some firms are in such a rush to get started with generative AI that they don’t take the time to really understand the strengths and limitations of this technology – as well as what prerequisites are necessary to get the most out of it. Firms that pause to think about what exactly they’re trying to accomplish will be setting themselves up for success as they journey down the road. 

Next: attend to information architecture 

As a next step, firms need to check the state of the information architecture within the firm. The large language models (LLMs) that power generative AI and generate content need to be trained on data, which begs the question: what are the trusted data sets within the organization? For that matter, where are the trusted data sets? 

A document management system (DMS) gives a firm a good foundation to build off of, but it’s just a starting point. Generative AI won’t necessarily be able to find the “signal” within the “noise” of millions of documents within a firm’s DMS.  

A better approach is to expose LLMs to a small subset of data – such as the final versions of documents from within a specific time range, rather than all versions of documents, stretching back years and years. 

Technology alone is not enough here. There needs to be people and process in place to determine the “best” data to use to train the model or ground the outputs on. Having a strong knowledge management and curation process within the firm can ensure that the training data set is properly maintained on an ongoing basis, rather than as a “one off” exercise. 

An important note here: Depending on how “open” or “closed” of a security model a firm is utilizing, some matters and files will be fully locked down and inaccessible. This inaccessibility can potentially cause a variability in responses from generative AI, depending on the access level of the lawyer querying the system. To achieve uniform responses regardless of who’s typing in questions for generative AI to answer, firms should consider a slightly different security posture for their knowledge or best practices content than for their standard matters. 

Future: explore the possibilities 

Let’s say that a firm has put in some thought ahead of time about what they’d like to accomplish with generative AI, and they’ve attended to their information architecture. Maybe they’ve even had some success with some initial use cases – what comes next? 

Opening a window to the future means allowing for experimentation – done safely, of course. Firms should give lawyers hands-on experimentation opportunities where they can uncover new use cases beyond the ones where they’re already employing generative AI, in areas where it makes sense to utilize this technology. 

Better yet, as they keep an eye on the future, firms should go beyond “niche applications” or “edge cases” and take a “sky’s the limit” mentality. That means analyzing their current processes – everything from the type of work they do, to who performs the work, to the billing models that are used for that work – evaluating them, and saying “How could we do things radically differently with this new technology toolbox that we have at our disposal?” 

There is a long, rich history of companies that decided to completely rethink the existing model and do things in a totally new, innovative, tech-enabled way emerging as industry leaders. For those law firms following a careful roadmap from now to next to future, generative AI could well be an approach worth betting on.