In the News: Addressing the AI Education Gap in the Law

28 April 2023 | Eleanor Lightbody

A recent survey published in Legal Tech News found that one of the greatest barriers to AI adoption in the legal industry is the lack of education among lawyers about the possible applications of AI in their day-to-day work. Yet, the AI revolution is here. And a continued lack of understanding around emerging technologies in the legal space could mean lawyers losing their competitive edge or failing to cater to the needs of an increasingly tech-savvy clientele. This is an issue that many of our customers initially grappled with, so here’s my take on how we can close the AI education gap.

Cultivating a Mindset Shift

I’m reminded of Luminance’s recent Legalweek panel, which I hosted alongside business leaders from Koch Industries, Hitachi Vantara and Yokogawa. We touched upon the importance of AI education for lawyers, with all of my panellists noting that many on their respective teams were initially unsure about the possibilities of AI.

Both George Nino, GC of Yokogawa, and Laura Pickle, CIO & Discovery Director at Koch Industries, shared some fantastic advice for how they worked with their respective teams to overcome AI scepticism. Laura noted that some initial scepticism is natural when it comes to integrating novel technology: “We needed to do a bit of reprogramming, education, and getting them [the lawyers] to work differently. Change management is huge.”

In particular, accessibility and ease-of-use is integral to enacting this mentality shift. Luminance’s AI allows lawyers to do exactly that thanks the total absence of rules-programming and intensive machine training required by legacy technologies. George Nino was quick to note that the rapid impact that Luminance has had across Yokogawa as a result: “This is the first time I’ve seen it where all these different departments are embracing the software."

Building Trust and Confidence: My AI Shopping List

Laura’s answer to convincing the AI sceptics was exactly the same as my own: “You have to get their hands on the tool!” In my experience, law firms and business can grow employee confidence in AI as soon as they start seeing the results on their own documents and their day-to-day processes.

Admittedly, it’s not always easy to assess which AI will have the biggest impact on your legal team, not least when there are so many technologies today purporting to be AI. For that reason, I always like to provide my own ‘shopping list’ of key questions to business leaders scouting the market:

1. Is the AI instantly deployable with no lengthy set-up or machine training?

2. Can it automatically handle different languages or terminologies?

3. Can I teach it new concepts and ideas with simple point-and-click learning?

If the answer is ‘yes’, then businesses should be confident in moving forward with implementation.

It’s also important to note that advanced AI like Luminance will always keep lawyers in the driver’s seat. Analytical AI does not make any decisions itself, but rather enables lawyers to make more informed, data-driven decisions, freeing up time which has historically been exhausted on labour-intensive tasks like contract drafting and review. This is key for legal teams to understand – that AI is not here to replace, but rather augment their work.

Jeanine Moran, Director of Legal and Compliance at Hitachi Vantara, noted that having a champion of tech within the organisation can engender confidence in AI: “When (one of our lawyers) started he had no confidence in Luminance to do anything, but it was a real trip for me to watch his confidence in the tool grow to the point where he loves the Traffic Light Analysis now. He knows where he needs to go and what he needs to look at. Start with the most difficult attorney. If you can convert him, he’ll bring everyone with him.”

AI for the Future

The legal sector is evolving, and legal teams will need the right technology to support their evolving needs forward. Between evolving ESG regulations, rapid regulatory changes and increasing demands for operational efficiency, it’s clear that AI will play a central role in helping teams to deliver more complex work within more demanding timescales. AI-confident lawyers mean efficient legal services, so those that embrace the benefits of AI sooner rather than later will inevitably find themselves at a competitive advantage.

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