Artificial intelligence (AI) promises to transform every industry, and law is no exception. Small and midsize law firms are increasingly leveraging AI technologies to boost productivity, save time, improve client service, and make their operations more secure. Currently, the hottest AI topic among law firms is generative AI, a type of AI tool – such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT – used to produce various types of content. According to a 2023 Wolters Kluwer survey, 73% of lawyers expect to integrate generative AI into their legal work in the next 12 months – up from 15% who use it now. Below are some meaningful ways that AI is impacting or will soon impact small and midsize firms.
Small and midsize firms are increasingly using AI tools to automate mundane tasks and free up attorneys and support staff for higher-level activities. AI has been used in e-discovery tools for years, allowing searchers to efficiently scan massive databases for relevant material. AI tools also make case law research more efficient by combing through large databases to find relevant cases, statutes, and regulations almost instantaneously. Lawyers are adopting generative AI tools to draft documents and contracts and summarize complex legal information in layman’s terms for clients. With AI-powered contract review software, attorneys can speed up the review process and identify problematic clauses in contracts. Firms are also increasingly using AI tools to automate their internal processes and administrative work, eliminating data entry and other manual steps for greater efficiency. As AI technologies are more broadly adopted across the industry, small and midsize firms will face greater pressure to get on board or risk falling behind more efficient competitors.
Improving Client Relations
The impact of AI extends beyond enhancing firms' efficiency; it also empowers attorneys to offer a more personalized and tailored client service. By making mundane tasks like research and contract review more efficient, AI allows attorneys to focus on client relationships and other higher-level activities for the benefit of their clients. Attorneys have more time to provide clients with detailed communications and explanations at every stage of a case. They can delve more deeply into their clients’ business and industry and provide value-added proactive advice to help clients solve problems or take advantage of new opportunities.
Advising Clients on AI
As AI evolves and expands, businesses across all sectors are grappling with how they can leverage the technology to streamline their operations to realize efficiencies and remain competitive. Many clients routinely look to their law firm for advice on various matters impacting their business and are increasingly seeking their attorneys’ counsel on AI implementation and its legal implications. In fact, some larger law firms are even developing AI practice groups to advise clients on all matters related to AI. While smaller firms may not necessarily have the resources for a dedicated AI practice, they will increasingly be expected to provide their clients with actionable intelligence about AI tools and sound counsel on the legal aspects surrounding their implementation.
With AI allowing attorneys, paralegals, and other staff to perform many tasks more efficiently, law firm jobs will likely be impacted in the foreseeable future. A 2023 Goldman Sachs report estimated that 44% of tasks performed in the legal industry can be automated – the second highest among all industries. While lawyers and support staff will not be replaced en masse by AI, their roles and skill sets will need to evolve so that they can capitalize on the technology rather than compete with it.
As cyber attacks grow more costly and sophisticated, AI is playing an increasingly important role in cybersecurity. Because AI-enabled tools can process and analyze vast amounts of data, they can efficiently detect patterns and anomalies that may indicate an attack, and immediately alert the IT team or trigger an automatic protective response. Because AI-enabled tools are capable of learning from experience, they improve a cybersecurity system’s ability to recognize emerging threats. AI also makes a cybersecurity system more efficient by automating certain routine tasks traditionally performed by humans, such as security log analysis and patch management. But as with attorneys, AI does not replace human cybersecurity experts. Human judgment and oversight are crucial to the effective and accurate use of AI, which must be part of a comprehensive security plan that incorporates multiple layers of protection.
Tabush Group is a leading provider of Managed IT Services and Desktop as a Service (DaaS), with a concentration in serving small to midsized law firms. To learn more about how our state-of-the-art IT solutions can make your firm’s operations more efficient and secure, contact us.