IT Brief Asia - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
Story image
Generative AI to play significant role in future of legal industry
Mon, 18th Dec 2023

Adam Ryan, VP Product at Litera, has made projections about the significant role of Generative AI (GenAI) in the legal industry as we proceed towards 2024. GenAI is expected to influence legal practices by providing innovative tools and facilitating improvements in work methods, asserting that for lawyers, who are our voice, there is no other option but to adapt in this evolving era.

Ryan predicts that not using GenAI in legal work may be classified as malpractice. He believes that by 2024, law practices will have experienced drastic changes due to GenAI, which will not remove any of the lawyer's duty to adhere to diligence and ethical responsibilities, but will offer the ability to accelerate their workflow. Particularly in areas like Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) and document review, firms choosing not to utilise GenAI and language learning models (LLMs) would be at a severe disadvantage, as these GenAI-empowered firms will operate with higher speed, accuracy and efficiency.

The outlook for legal tech in 2024 also suggests a shift away from inexpensive AI plug-ins towards more robust tools. According to Ryan, lawyers do not have time to learn prompt engineering and would be better served by prioritising technology that utilises large language models. Such models understand the user's requests by identifying cognate words and synonyms, thus producing accurate responses without the need for exact prompts.

Another priority identified is preserving the mentoring culture while adapting to AI and remote work. With many firm partners working remotely and GenAI taking over key tasks usually performed by first-year associates, there is a threat to the nurturing environment within law firms. These challenges might result in the loss of a mentoring culture which is detrimental to the development of young lawyers. This prompts a call to action for firms to take the initiative in training and mentorship.

Vendor consolidation in legal tech is another prevalent prediction. As firms steer away from legal-specific solutions, preference will be given to using industry-standard technology integrated with legal-specific features. It is anticipated that more firms will switch from Document Management Systems (DMS) to more specialised Microsoft solutions. Also, the increased rate of change in technology is likely to encourage firms to educate their clients on their AI strategy proactively.

Adam Ryan's final prediction pertains to the death of the billable hour. Looking towards 2024, Litera's recent research shows an increasing shift in law firms from the traditional billable hour to alternative fee arrangements (AFAs). This important shift can be attributed to the need to remain competitive due to declining M&A and the efficiency improvements brought about by AI.