The recent advances in artificial intelligence have prompted interest across Airbnb in how employees can use technology to enhance their work processes, according to Iris Chen, a vice president and deputy general counsel at the company.
She said Airbnb’s legal department has responded by creating a small working group that is testing out AI products for potential use. The unit is serving as a focus group of sorts for the in-house legal team.
“We're trying to see if this actually has an impact before we go off and say, ‘Everybody's got to adopt this,’” Chen said. “I think that's been a really smart way that we've thought about, ‘Okay, how are we going to start integrating some of this really cool technology into our daily practice?’”
Chen made her remarks during a recent webinar focused on digital transformation that was hosted by Ironclad, an AI-powered contract lifecycle management provider.
Chen said one area where the Airbnb legal department is experimenting with AI is a tool that can help the litigation team write initial briefs. She said she was excited about the potential positive impact.
“That's going to be amazing if that [tool] actually can reduce the turnaround time that it takes for the litigation team to produce memos or briefs,” Chen said.
Along those lines, she highlighted that when testing out new technology, it is helpful to start in an area where there is something that can be measured.
Chen said the company’s AI exploration has been a top-down initiative, and she shared that the legal team’s working group has benefited from the involvement of the chief legal officer.
Even though the CLO is retiring, Chen said, he has participated in focus groups regarding the use of AI in legal and asked important questions about the broader implications of the emerging technology.
“He has been super excited about the possibilities and encouraged us to experiment,” she said.
Airbnb recently announced the company’s outgoing legal chief, Rich Baer, will be replaced by former White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. He will start at Airbnb on Jan. 1 and will report to Airbnb CEO & co-founder Brian Chesky.
Meanwhile, Chen said the AI experimentation has also served the legal team well in its work advising other parts of the business about the emerging tools.
Hands-on experience with the technology allows legal professionals to understand AI’s benefits and limitations, as well as the risks AI can introduce, she said.
This knowledge helps the in-house legal team provide thoughtful advice to colleagues.
“I think having legal be adopters and helping the business evaluate these tools is actually a really good thing,” Chen said.