IT Operations

Tech director shares what law firms think of generative AI

As the emerging tech catches on with lawyers, an AI director shares his case-by-case considerations.
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Amelia Kinsinger

3 min read

Law firms are increasingly considering how generative AI can assist with text-heavy tasks, like getting the TL;DR on a ton of legal research.

In December 2023, the global law firm Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius and global technology and content company Thomson Reuters announced a partnership “to collaborate on new artificial intelligence (AI)-driven legal products.”

More than six months later, during an on-the-record call with reporters (set up by enterprise software company OutSystems) Josh Rosenzweig, senior director of AI and innovation at Morgan Lewis, shared how things are going as the group tested early ideas.

“We’re seeing an increase in interest in use cases. So, one of the things that we’ve had to really think about is, how do we create operating models around those use cases?” Rosenzweig told the group.

Rosenzweig, charged with the AI strategy at the firm, said during the roundtable, that the company has placed a heavy emphasis on incorporating AI-assisted legal research into the practice and “helping our attorneys be able to process large amounts of research data quickly and be able to summarize that information.”

A January 2024 survey from LexisNexis saw a hint of increased interest amongst its 266 polled execs, partners, and senior leaders from large law firms and Fortune 1000 legal departments:

  • Seven in 10 respondents “agreed or strongly agreed that generative AI will enable new value-added work product that they can offer their clients.”
  • Among the 200 top US law-firm respondents, “53% said their firms have purchased legal AI solutions and 45% are currently using them for legal work.”

Thomson Reuters has predicted generative AI will drive day-to-day legal tasks. “We anticipate a changing of internal roles within those departments, with fewer paralegal and junior roles as the tasks those roles usually handle become the first to get automated,” company practitioners wrote in February 2024. (Common paralegal responsibilities include drafting legal documents, conducting research, writing formal discovery requests, and organizing trial information.)

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Out of all the GenAI possibilities for law firms today, Rosenzweig said he is most excited about the potential ability to quickly present visualizations from large data sets, as well as the chance to someday write drafts tuned specifically for a given client’s preferences.

However, each idea has its own special set of security and privacy concerns that prevent immediate adoption.

“Some [clients] are very bullish on generative AI; some are not, and then there’s a large group in the middle. So, we can’t have one singular strategy for how we’re approaching this. We actually have to take each use case independent of each other and think about it on a client-by-client initiative,” Rosenzweig told reporters on the call.

Rosenzweig said an internal “AI Center of Excellence” tasks in-house evaluators (many former attorneys-turned-tech evangelists) to regularly test the outputs of the large language models.

And models have been known to be thrown out of court.

In June 2023, a federal judge imposed $5,000 fines on two lawyers and a law firm after a claim, drafted with help of ChatGPT, included bogus cases like, “Martinez v. Delta Air Lines” and “Zicherman v. Korean Air Lines.”

“We can’t control what the models are outputting. What we can control are the operating models of who is overseeing that work, and then who’s overseeing the work of the person that’s using that model,” Rosenzweig said.

Top insights for IT pros

From cybersecurity and big data to cloud computing, IT Brew covers the latest trends shaping business tech in our 4x weekly newsletter, virtual events with industry experts, and digital guides.