Ahead of several annual meetings of the International Legal Technology Association, the show’s news was its glimpse into artificial intelligence. After a few years of vendors touting the topic like magic beans, the mood relaxed and everyone started talking about AI as a perfectly normal tool with recognized limitations. This year, the legal tech world collectively made a breakthrough in therapy.
But in 2023, artificial intelligence could actually be magic. It’s not going to replace lawyers anytime soon (it’s not even capable of doing 90 percent of what the media claims or what lazy lawyers envision), but it seems like a technology that’s on the verge of doing it To really change the way the industry does its job.
Do the lawyers actually get the memo?
There are almost 3,300 participants here at ILTACON and only a few are practicing lawyers. Every year I beg companies to send lawyers to this show, or at least schedule a full debrief afterwards. All too often, the conference feels like earning an invite to a support group of Scooby-Doo villains and sharing their visions of an efficient law firm…and it would work even if it weren’t for those pesky lawyers.
From the showroom to the bar, tech pros from law firms and legal departments flock to vendors who describe pain points and explain what it would take to get a new implementation up and running. Yet the shadow hovers over every conversation as to whether the lawyers will understand it enough to change the way they operate.
“We usually talk about increasing an affiliate’s profit from $1 million to $1.1 million,” explained one attendee. “And sometimes that’s not enough to get them involved.”
This is where the AI comes into play. It is not about achieving efficiency gains on the margins, but this will be of existential importance for future legal practice. The vast majority of the Am Law 100 firms are considering the use of AI, but when we hear these numbers we have to ask ourselves whether the Am Law 100 firms are really considering the use of AI or if the Am Law 100’s tech pros are -Law firms are at the forefront of this… and will they get the purchase price they need when they return home?
It would be a case that would be much easier if a couple of lawyers showed up for the proceedings.
Joe Patrice is Senior Editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. You can always email us tips, questions or comments. Keep following him Twitter if you are interested in law, politics and a healthy dose of university sports news. Joe also serves as Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.