Welcome to 2024: GenAI’s Year of Implementation in Legal
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Legalweek 2024 is in the books! This extremely well attended conference delivered insights into harnessing legal technology to drive decisions and accelerate outcomes. The clear message attendees took away was that generative AI will change the way legal services are delivered.
The conference provided a forum to learn how industry professionals use this technology, garner internal adoption, measure results, and navigate implementation. While many unknowns still exist about how generative AI will change the business and practice of law, industry knowledge is growing fast.
The main takeaways? Everyone seems to agree that the year of implementation for generative AI has arrived. Adoption will be gradual and accelerate throughout 2024 and beyond. Legalweek 2024 saw extensive discussion of how generative AI will enhance capabilities in contract management, legal research, eDiscovery and compliance, therefore expect more organisations to explore those frontiers this year. Skilled resources must be in place to effectively drive change management and long-term adoption. While there will always be some level of risk to adopting new technology, operating within a strong legal services management framework mitigates that risk and leads to effective workflow integration and increased efficiencies.
The State of Generative AI Adoption
At Legalweek 2023, generative AI burst onto the scene, causing both consternation and fascination; first movers were working to identify early use cases. In just a year, the tone has significantly changed.
Legal department and law firm innovators are being asked to investigate how Gen AI can save their organisations time and money, allowing lawyers to focus on more higher-value tasks. However, leaders must be strategic about selecting and deploying these tools. The market has learned from experience that working with a single specialised legal supplier leads to successful deployment. Those that can advise, implement, and measure success for generative AI-based solution rollout will be attractive partners.
Trending Use Cases
Certain use cases came up time and time again during the conference – and for good reason. Activities that are lower risk and higher reward are ripe for Gen AI. Enhanced summarisation can be useful for eDisclosure, regulatory investigations, and other situations where legal teams need a quick picture of what is in their data. Timelines and privilege logs are also potential avenues to explore for enhancing eDisclosure workflows.
Generative AI-based contract solutions are also quickly gaining traction. New contextual tools enrich the outdated and inefficient contract drafting and negotiation processes and are defensible. Look for providers with the capability to add an intelligent layer on top of an organisation’s contract database to tag and account for factors such as clause commonality, versioning, partner preferences, and more.
The Future of Legal AI Applications
A growing set of applications are addressing legal, compliance, and business-of-law use cases. Legalweek attendees explored myriad solutions to streamline compliance efforts through horizon scanning and other regulatory risk tools. Regulatory and legal requirements are continually expanding, making any tool for proactive risk reduction very appealing – especially to corporations.
Gen AI-enabled solutions are providing real-time communication scanning that allows organisations to quickly identify, measure, and act on potential misconduct, with preliminary applications in internal investigations and antitrust. With widespread adoption, organisations will benefit from more informed decision-making to avoid major compliance issues.
In-house counsel is also beginning to leverage generative AI tools for horizon scanning to monitor legal and regulatory updates, identify important sector trends, and anticipate changes in consumer activity. With this information, in-house counsel will be able to budget strategically, mitigate risk, and deliver value-driven insights to company decision-makers. Providers with these tools in their suite of offerings can advise on the best areas to use them for and help with implementation.
Where compliance goes, information governance follows. Using generative AI forces organisations to optimise governance so that data is current and organised. Cross-functional groups including legal as a key stakeholder will be pivotal in the process, alongside guidance from experienced outside partners.
Optimising Implementation Through Change Management
Selecting a use case and investing in new technology is only part of the equation. For successful implementation, a change management strategy must underpin every phase of the process, from initiative launch to continual support well after launch. Understanding current workflows and end user experience, determining potential areas of resistance, and identifying champions at all levels are essential components of a successful rollout.
It is also essential for stakeholders to agree at project outset what will constitute success in adoption, identify KPIs, and measure value-based change against a defined baseline. Skilled change experts are key to managing a team through successful transformation efforts, which require a combination of structural incentives that reward change, thoughtful anticipation of impact and defensive behaviour, setting expectations, and evaluating risk. The legal sector now understands the need for experienced change management, and this expertise is critical as the entire industry grapples with massive change and varying motivation to adapt.
The legal industry is no longer just musing over generative AI but actively seeking implementation opportunities. This year, more legal departments and law firms will deploy generative AI solutions, with compliance being a strong area of focus. To build future-proof strategies, maintain a positive trajectory for transformation, and enhance derived value, collaboration with skilled change management needs to be a top priority. Organisations will be able to drive decisions with AI-enabled solutions that combine people, process, technology, and data – and most importantly, address recurrent pain points unique to their workflows.
The contents of this article are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions.