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After the Bar

Practice Management

AI and the Future of Law: Practical Considerations for New Attorneys

Ned Gannon

AI and the Future of Law: Practical Considerations for New Attorneys
Tara Moore via Getty Images

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It was just after 2 a.m., and my bleary red eyes scanned the faint glow of the computer screen before me. A junior corporate associate at a large law firm, I was wading through the onerously rote due diligence process for an acquisition by a private equity fund client. In between bites of cold pizza and gulps of warm Coke, I thought there had to be a better way. 

Despite having no technical experience myself, this episode and countless others like it led me to cofound eBrevia, an AI-driven legal services firm. eBrevia provides AI-based contract analytics software to some of the world’s largest law firms, corporate legal departments, and financial institutions, as well as Big Four audit/consulting firms.

Due to a confluence of trends, AI is increasingly impacting a wide variety of law firm and legal department work. Young attorneys today are uniquely positioned to leverage AI-based software in ways that could help propel their careers.

Reasons to Use Machine Learning Technology

When it comes to lower-level legal tasks, firms and legal departments are under intense pressure to do more with less. Layer on top of this, the evolving sophistication of AI and the multiple new companies regularly entering the space, setting the stage for a fundamental transformation in the completion of routine legal tasks.

Machine learning applications include contract review, litigation analysis and outcome prediction, legal research, and intellectual property law analysis. In most cases, these technologies supplement the attorney’s work and help attorneys work more accurately and efficiently rather than complete an entire task.

How Do Attorneys Use AI to Enhance Their Career Trajectory?

Start by becoming familiar with the tools available in your practice area. If your firm or corporate legal department has implemented AI-based technologies, become an early adopter.

If you have ideas for new features or valuable uses for the software, provide feedback to the vendor. At eBrevia, for instance, we specifically build capacity into our product roadmap to take client suggestions into account.

If your firm or corporate legal department has not adopted a given solution in your practice area, explore participation in pilot programs. If you see a tool you would like to try, share it with knowledge management attorneys or other relevant personnel to help facilitate the implementation of a pilot.

Look to gain experience quickly on projects that provide you with opportunities for higher-level legal analysis, negotiation, advocacy, strategy, and creativity as opposed to solely rote work. These critical skill sets will be in even more demand in a world where software can accelerate the completion of essential, routine legal work.

Despite the rapid increase in the incorporation of AI-based tools in the practice of law in recent years, it is still difficult to gauge the impact this technology will have on the entire legal industry. There is yet time to develop expertise in this area and become a valuable resource for colleagues who are less familiar with the advantages and limitations of the tools available.

If proactive and strategic, young attorneys today are well-positioned to foster the continued adoption of AI throughout the legal industry and reap the resulting rewards throughout their careers. It is those attorneys who are not proactive or adaptable—mainly when working in areas with a high proportion of routine work—who are at the most significant risk of being negatively impacted by emergent AI technology. I have had the opportunity to view the dynamic intersection of AI and law from the perspectives of both a practicing lawyer and a legal tech entrepreneur. As a once non-technical attorney myself, I have found the intersection of AI and the law to be an exciting and dynamic environment rooted in a movement that is directly impacting the way essential legal work gets done.