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Gen AI and Today’s Legal Leaders: Insights from the ACC CLO Summit

  • Legal Operations
  • 3 Mins

The 2024 ACC (Association of Corporate Counsel) Annual CLO Summit was held in Edinburgh, Scotland and included more than eighty global General Counsels and Chief Legal Officers. The entities represented are known globally, including legal leaders from NATO, DocuSign, technology company leader Infosys, and consumer brand companies, including PepsiCo, Ferrara, and Diageo.

The overall program focused on ESG, cyber response readiness, geopolitical concerns, and the legal department's responsibility around the use and security of data. Several sessions touched on governance and risk, including the session Epiq sponsored, and led on the use, opportunity, regulation, governance, and risk associated with Gen AI. With ACC’s support, Epiq held three prep sessions with panelists, and the active exchange among the industry-diverse panel confirmed the relevance of this topic to the office of the GC and CLO.

A mantra repeated by the panelists was that legal departments and businesses of all kinds can’t ignore the opportunity presented by Gen AI. Similar to the experience of most leaders, executive leadership, is being asked by their boards how Gen AI can improve efficiency within their business. Based on data, including a point made by conference speaker Dr. Paola Cecchi Dimeglio of Harvard Law School, 40% of jobs are being impacted by AI worldwide, rising to 60% in advanced markets.

Today, Gen AI is in use in legal services management for document summaries to support litigation, as well as the automated ingesting and alignment of contracts with templates and playbooks. Knowledge Management continues to be a significant area for AI, and Gen AI allows corporate legal and law firms to use common language requests to draw from prior work product. Think about having access to all prior work product and instructing technology using common English to access that work product to create new work product using relevant contract or matter specifics. Your legal department Contracts Specialist or 2nd-year law firm Associate just got access to the strongest clauses ever used by your organization, instantaneously.

When the discussion turned to regulation, opinions were divided about whether we need to regulate Gen AI. Today the EU AI Act is in place, while other global regulations are in discussion; notably, US states are beginning to regulate the use and byproduct of Gen AI, and the Middle East has issued AI policies and guidelines. Lacking precedent, it’s too early to understand the impact of AI regulation. Does Gen AI need to be regulated? Or, will the maturity of the technology and strong parameters around its use offer the needed protections - specifically in the world of business? At least two panelists agreed, like the technology that came before Gen AI, the need for strong and evolving data security, user training, and automated technical protections will likely outweigh any formal regulations put in place.

Governance and risk were key concerns and directly in the wheelhouse of the audience. The panel discussed where data comes from, where it’s housed, and how it’s used. The use of organization specific data led to a discussion on private clouds, Retrieval-Augmented Generation (RAG), and overall data privacy and security. All agreed that proper training is required to ensure the integrity of source data, generated data, and the final work product.

Concerns over the governance of AI technology partners, the entities training and tuning Large Language Models (LLMs), how to minimize risk bias, and how to perform proper due diligence were raised. Whether the use of Gen AI will be defensible across all markets is unknown and in the early stages of review; noting that all legal work product, human or technology-generated, should be checked and information verified. Recommendations included ensuring technology partners have the appropriate walls and access structure set up to protect IP. Gen AI will require attention across your business to ensure opportunities are realized, including a budget to support training and change management. Done effectively, both can impact the integrity of source data, generated data and the final work product.

Providing AI solutions to legal departments and law firms for more than a decade, and leading legal transformation on many fronts, Epiq moderated this session. When Gen AI became a direct-to-consumer reality two short years ago, Epiq looked to technical partners, Microsoft and AWS, as the processing platforms to expand their offerings for legal departments and law firms. As with AI, Epiq jumped on board to introduce a Gen AI product, which launched in limited release globally in May of 2024.

Preparing with the panelists, the joint goal to present tangible insights on Gen AI to be used by GCs and CLOs within their legal departments and the businesses they support was established.

  • First, you can safely incorporate Gen AI into your business. The opportunity with Gen AI is significant– you can’t sit this out. Gen AI will allow you and your colleagues to do the work you’re doing better.
  • While current, proposed, and future regulations will establish guard rails, regulation will likely become less necessary once the understanding of Gen AI and how it works increases.
  • Lastly, like the technology that came before Gen AI, be sure to use and broaden your in-place information security, data privacy, and data access standards. Review use cases, models, data sets, clouds, and generation IP. Your organization does a security evaluation of your technology providers today and should continue to do so with your AI and Gen AI suppliers.

What’s new today will not be new tomorrow; AI is, and Gen AI will become pervasive in most of the technology offerings used personally and professionally. Like the fax, cell phones, the internet, email, DMs, and electronic signatures, legal, compliance and business overall will adapt and benefit from this new technology.

Nicole GiantonioBy Nicole Giantonio, is the SVP and CMO of Epiq Legal Solutions.
A career outsourcing executive who worked with industry leaders ADP, Xerox, Ceridian, and United Healthcare, Nicole transitioned to legal in 2015, seeing the opportunity for both technology and process transformation in corporate legal departments and law firms.

The contents of this article are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions.

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