The artificial intelligence-based tools used in the legal industry today generally solve very specific problems for the lawyers who use them. Kira, Litera's machine learning document review software, for example, enhances M&A teams' ability to perform due diligence reviews of large sets of contracts. Similarly, Litera's Clocktimizer offering uses Natural Language Processing to mine the data in lawyers' time sheets to support data-driven decisions around budgeting and pricing.
These kinds of AI-based tools are up and running across the legal industry and becoming a mainstream aspect of many practice areas and law firm management.
It turns out, however, that the deployment of AI in the legal industry is leading to many other benefits for the firms that have invested in these technologies. Those "unexpected benefits" were the subject of a recent Litera webinar. The webinar was hosted by Litera's Kennan Samman, Vice President, Global Product Sales, and featured a panel that provided insights and experiences from the field:
- Sarah McCormick, Senior Manager of Client Value Initiatives, Honigman LLP
- Julien Cayet, Technology & Innovation Director, Loyens & Loeff
- Josephine Good, Manager, Practice Advisors, Litera
The unexpected benefits are side effects of the main tasks AI is designed to accomplish. In a wide-ranging discussion, that panel provided dozens of examples of how those side benefits are quite significant for the success of the law firms using AI. Here are just a few examples:
- AI enables better client service delivery. Sarah McCormick described Honigman Review Solutions (HRS), a team of corporate lawyers within her firm that specializes in due diligence projects. They use Kira technology on every deal, offering pricing, speed, and quality advantages to the deal teams that engage HRS, allowing them to focus on higher-level advisory work. Julien Cayet noted that a real estate group at his firm uses AI on virtually every diligence project, with a growing level of expertise.
- AI tools generate structured data sets that provide incidental benefits. While AI's primary value to transactional teams is to provide the extraction of contract terms, the process of ingesting and analyzing data sets generates data that can be used for other purposes. McCormick noted that her team has learned that document page counts and other metrics in completed projects can be used to help inform and predict the pricing and staffing levels for similar proposed projects. Josephine Good mentioned another benefit of taking the output from AI document analysis and putting it to use elsewhere. She has noticed firms are using collections of analyzed documents to share insights about what's market with their clients proactively. More than just solving the immediate legal task, the data ingested in AI systems can arm legal teams with insights that can enhance a firm's advisory capacity.
- Team job satisfaction and retention. The adoption of AI in law firms is creating new roles and career paths for lawyers and allied professionals. The availability of those new roles is helping some firms retain people by creating new specializations. The panel reported that a firm's level of technological sophistication is slowly becoming a factor in recruitment as well. It has become an indicator in the eyes of recruits that a firm is investing in the talent and culture of a firm. As McCormick put it, "if I were a candidate and there was a firm that wasn't using advanced technology while others were, I'd think twice about working there." Candidates are starting to respond to recruiting messaging that mentions investment in technology.
- Better collaboration across the firm. AI forces a firm to focus on leveraging the data within a law firm, and that tends to require more collaboration between the practice groups and the business of law teams. New business, staffing, and delivery models make the data everybody's business. And Cayet noted that deploying AI requires better collaboration between innovation teams and practice groups, as the innovation teams get better at co-creating new solutions with the direct input and active participation of lawyers.
- Better client conversations. Good observed that many law firm clients are becoming more discerning regarding how their work is performed. McCormick hears clients asking about new ways to do things. Cayet noted that two things are driving new types of relationships with clients: conversations about pricing and requests for simplification in the way services are delivered. Both drivers are addressable with technology, but they require an ongoing dialogue about expectations. McCormick identified one significant advantage of her team's approach: meeting client needs with packages of different services—technology, staffing, and processes. Clients begin to get used to seeing those integrated services, which creates some stickiness in the relationship.
These are just a few of the ancillary benefits of leveraging AI-based technology in legal work. A recording of the full webinar, The Unexpected Benefits of AI in Legal Work, is available online. Our accompanying ebook, The Unexpected Benefits of AI in Transactional Law, is also available for download.