👋 Hello! It looks like you're visiting from the US. Do you want to visit our American site?
👋 Hello! It looks like you're visiting from the UK. Do you want to visit our UK site?
👋 Hello! It looks like you're visiting from Australia. Do you want to visit our Australian site?

Transforming Legal Practice: Insights from 2024 Legal Conferences on Gen AI 

Stephen Embry

Written by

Stephen Embry


February 13, 2024

Transforming Legal Practice: Insights from 2024 Legal Conferences on Gen AI 

Spending the week at legal conferences is receiving an overwhelming amount of information attendees are left to digest for weeks to come. This year, at LegalWeek alone, there were 95 educational sessions, a whopping 75 of them dealing with generative AI (GenAI) in one form or another—a Gen AI avalanche.

It’s crucial to recall Bill Gates’ words in this GenAI whirlwind: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” This overestimation holds particularly true here. We can expect next year’s show to be less about GenAI and more about its practical application.

Cloud-Based Providers and Gen AI

The legal conference offered glimpses of the potential practical application of GenAI to come. It’s beginning to dawn on some cloud-based providers, for example, that they have an advantage in practical GenAI use cases. Companies in practice management and eDiscovery that operate in the cloud already have data that GenAI requires to be meaningfully responsive. For years, these providers have mastered extracting data and housing data in confidential silos for operational use and product development. The next step? Integrate the right GenAI tools to make this data actionable.

The beauty of GenAI, of course, is the conversational ability that enables anyone, with some practice, to utilize the tool. In the practice management realm, for example, legal professionals could leverage GenAI to gain insights about their practice, from understanding billing issues to making law firm marketing more effective. Anything and everything that could be gleaned from a law firm’s operational data can be easily and quickly accessible in ways that drive the business forward. A lawyer could, for example, promptly discover a client’s payment history or how profitable a matter is. 

For years, law firm business and practice management has been challenging because getting the answer was difficult and time-consuming. But with GenAI, legal teams can get answers fast to make better business decisions. The cloud-stored data that a practice management company holds relating to the business end of the practice of law is, by definition, significant. The accessibility to the secrets found in the data that GenAI can provide could revolutionize how lawyers interact with and understand business and practice management data.

Similarly, Ediscovery providers hold vast amounts of data that are not only related to discovery in lawsuits but everything else about the business. One vendor told me how he needed to find his company’s most current logo amongst several years worth to use in a PowerPoint. In the past, he would have had to dig around for hours. With GenAI, he just asked it to provide him with the logo and had it in seconds. His story is but one example of the power GenAI has for the business end of the practice. 

But the first step is accessing the data to enable the tool to answer the questions. Where is that data? Often in the hands of practice management and education providers.

The Prerequisites for Effective GenAI Usage: Security and Data Privacy

Yet, effective GenAI use hinges on a couple of prerequisites. Lawyers obsess over security, and rightfully so. Practice management and eDiscovery companies understand how to secure the data that they house and have done so for years. One company’s data never intermingles with another’s.

But security also needs to be assured on the GenAI side. The tool must ensure that it will not take answers to inquiries from one customer and use them to answer another. The provider must guarantee that the tool will not use the information upon which it is based or the answers to train the tool in the future. Some providers are already seeing this and taking steps to create this assurance. 

And public-facing tools are quickly moving in the same direction. Microsoft, for example, clearly knows its tool has to have this capability to be helpful to the many businesses and law firms that will want to use it. Microsoft guarantees that AI responses will be anchored only in the organization’s data, i.e.private. It also represents that the data from inquiries, responses, and data accessed through Co-Pilot will not be used for training. Other providers of data services allow customers to use public-facing Generative AI like ChatGPT but then prevent ChatGPT from using the data inputted or the response any place else.

Additionally, GenAI tools need to cite sources for their responses so the user can review and check the sites for accuracy. Given how GenAI works, most data scientists will tell you there can be no guarantee of 100% accuracy. 

GenAI tools can’t separate fact from fiction (we humans also occasionally have trouble with that). A GenAI tool is like a lovable dog; it just wants to please by predicting the following logical sentence or paragraph. At least for the foreseeable future, answers to inquiries will need to be fact-checked, and citations are therefore a must.

Looking Forward: The Evolution from Theory to Practicality in GenAI

Given all this, by next year, we will see less theoretical, less “how will the profession be transformed” handwringing, and more here’s a product that does something. That will solve a pain point. That will enable lawyers and legal professionals to ask questions in a conversational tone about their business and data, get clear answers, and cite the underlying data. That will guarantee that robust security will be present end to end. 

It’s much like we saw with the cloud. We went through the questioning stage—will it work—to how we can use it. Today, cloud-based tools are marketed for what the tool can do with only passing reference to the cloud technology. We will see the same thing with GenAI.

The practical uses for GenAI are immense. The businesses holding the data to which to apply these use cases hold many cards right now, which we are just beginning to. Stay tuned.

Related Product Content

A smiling person wearing a collared shirt, tie, and glasses, works on a laptop at a coffee shop.

7 AI Apps for Your Legal Toolbox

No items found.
No items found.

Book Your Free Demo

Ready to see how Smokeball client intake software helps you Run Your Best Firm? Schedule your free demo!

This field is required.

This field is required.

This field is required.

This field is required.

This field is required.

This field is required.

This field is required.

Your personal data will be kept confidential. For more information about how we collect, store, and use your personal data, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

More from the Smokeball blog

Subscribe to Our Newsletter