Practical next steps to get started and some thoughts around future careers
So here’s the third and final instalment in this current series focussing on the practicalities of generative AI for in-house counsel. Let’s focus on some practical next steps to help you get started, whilst also addressing some common questions around what technologies like AI mean for the lawyer of the future.
Getting Started – Have a Play
I’m a firm believer in that the best way to get to grips with something new is to roll up your sleeves and have a go, and that’s no different with Generative AI. If you haven’t done so already, I’d highly recommend you take a visit to the Chat GPT website where you can sign up for free (https://chat.openai.com). There are plenty of other alternatives to Chat GPT, including Google Bard, Microsoft Bing Chat and Claude. REMEMBER: do not share/insert any sensitive or confidential information into these platforms!
Here’s a few ideas for inspiration if you haven’t yet had a play:
- Legalese translation: Grab a recent paragraph of legal advice that you have drafted and ask Gen-AI to re-write it in lay terms (REMEMBER: make sure you anonymise any text and do not include sensitive/confidential/commercial information). E.g. “Re-write this legal advice into lay terms that someone who is not a lawyer could understand.
- Case research: Ask Gen-AI to support with research activities (REMEMBER: tools like ChatGPT is trained on millions of pieces of data and not on curated legal content. This will just give you some inspiration and is not a reliable legal research tool. However, generative AI is being rolled into many popular legal knowledge databases you use today and will make searching and retrieving relevant information easier for you in the future). E.g. “Summarise the legal case involving a snail and a bottle”.
- Clause drafting: Ask Gen-AI to support with contract clause drafting (REMEMBER: see note above about how this is just for fun, but generative AI is being embedded into various legal knowledge and contract drafting tools and this gives inspiration as to how that will work). E.g. “Draft me a mutual confidentiality clause”.
- Content generation: Ask Gen-AI to support with lots of other support activities such as writing job specs for new hires. E.g. “Draft a job description for a commercial paralegal to join an in-house legal team focussed on volume commercial contracts”.
- For fun: Have a general play around. E.g. “Write a sonnet about commercial contracts in the style of William Shakespeare”.
Let’s put this into practice
Here’s a few tips to progress from experimenting to doing.
- Remember that Gen AI tools are most effective when guided by well-structured prompts, so invest the time in formulating them thoughtfully, and experimenting to work out what works, and what doesn’t.
- Use free tools like Chat GPT alongside your everyday activities, so long as you aren’t using it for confidential or sensitive information. It can save significant time in preparing first draft content and summarising notes etc.
- Find out which tools in your existing technology stack are already using Generative AI. For example, many of the CLM providers now have generative AI embedded within the toolkit, and organisations like Thomson Reuters and Co-Counsel are deploying in their content and research tools. Speak to the product owners in your organisation if you are unsure, or feel free to reach out to me.
- Understand what your organisation is doing. IT and Transformation teams in most organisations now have teams focussed on deploying generative AI within the organisation. Tools such as Microsoft’s Azure AI allow you to harness the power of tools like GPT but allow you to do so inside the security of your organisation’s IT infrastructure. Find out what the plan is, and how you can get involved. You may have internal teams who can support you, or you may want support from organisations like SYKE, who can also work within your environment. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to discuss more.
- Keep a close eye on development around Microsoft’s Co Pilot. Again, this is already being piloted in many large global organisations and is being deployed later this year. This capability will bring the powers of Generative AI into the Microsoft products you are probably using every day.
The above is a very general guide. Of course, if you have more specific questions or would like to explore further, I would love to have a chat and so please get in touch.
Technology, AI and the Future Lawyer
One of the questions I get asked a lot is whether “AI will eat our jobs” or “Do I need to be a technology or AI expert to be a lawyer in the future”.
In short, the answer to both of those questions from me is “No”. Quite decisive for a lawyer, (right?!). So now I’ll briefly explain the caveats and the thought process behind that.
Firstly, as we’ve seen throughout this blog series, there are risks and challenges to using technology like AI. Like humans, it’s not perfect.
Let’s summarise what we’ve already covered: Generative AI is an assistant tool, it’s not going to replace us. It’s going to get you to a first draft of some content more quickly, it should be treated like an intern, or a trainee lawyer – someone who is talented, who is still learning the ropes but can help you get through a large job list much more quickly.
You’ll need to review the content, you’ll want to fact-check the sources and recommendations, you’ll want to use your years of training and experience to polish the outcome and assure its accuracy – that’s why you are there. When using for the right task though, you’ll get to the right outcome much more quickly (up to 80% in some of the time trials I have done).
Now let’s move onto Gen AI in terms of careers. As it has done over the past couple of decades, technology and tools like AI will continue to create new opportunities in the legal sector – we’ll need some lawyers with deep understanding and a passion for technology to be the change makers. We’ll see more “non-lawyer” (thankfully, that phrase seems to be slowly dying!) roles embedded within the legal ecosystem, which will continue to diversify how legal services are provided – that’s developers, data scientists but also project managers, product managers etc. Sure, an understanding of technology will be helpful, but as AI and technology become more ubiquitous in our everyday lives this will naturally happen as an evolution.
So, if black letter law and the practice of law is your passion, I’ve no doubt that technology and AI will not take that away from you in the long term. If you’re a bit more entrepreneurial, or tech-savvy, then there will continue to be an emergence of new roles that might be more interesting to you in the future.
And with that, I wrap up this blog series on Generative AI. There was so much I could not cover here in a short blog series designed as a quick and light read. I’m passionate, but also realistic and practical about the possibilities of AI in legal.
If you’d like to chat more, please do get in touch.
Want to go even further? Take a look at these additional resources from LOD and SYKE:
Jonny is the Senior Vice President – Chief Legal Engineer at SYKE.
With a strong background in legal innovation and automation, Jonny, our data services leader, excels in guiding clients towards smarter decisions through their data. He’s aided FTSE 100 firms in adopting AI technologies and collaborated with top global legal tech players to create AI models for cutting-edge platforms. A lawyer at heart, Jonny heads a skilled team of legal engineers across various regions.