For in-house legal professionals who have not embraced the use of new technology, now is a great time to jump on board, says Colin Levy, a thought leader in the legal tech space.
Levy points to the wide array of generative AI tools on the market as one salient reason for in-house lawyers and other legal department staff to consider better using tech in their work.
He highlights that products powered by the latest artificial intelligence can help with everyday tasks such as summarizing a text or starting to draft a piece of writing.
Emerging AI is also being applied to legal use cases in the contract lifecycle management and document review spaces, among others. For example, generative AI technology can pinpoint language that should be added to or deleted from a legal document.
“These tools are so useful for a variety of different cases and they're generally not hard to use, so that opens up the possibilities for folks who hold a lot of different roles in legal departments or in businesses more generally,” says Levy, the director of legal and evangelist for CLM provider Malbek.
Finding your ‘why’
As with any area of technology, Levy recommends in-house professionals interested in deploying emerging AI start by asking themselves why they want to learn about the topic.
This could include determining what they hope the technology can help them accomplish, such as improving how they handle a time-consuming task they often complete.
If used properly, Levy says, generative AI-powered products have the potential to boost the productivity of in-house legal professionals and the quality of their work. This is particularly true for repetitive, data-driven tasks.
Doing your research
Levy also advises legal professionals to conduct research about the various tools on the market, including the risks associated with their use.
For example, generative AI tools such as ChatGPT can sometimes make up information in response to user prompts, so figuring out the type of data they are trained on is important.
Entering sensitive data into generative AI products can also create data privacy and IP issues, which are among the reasons the wide availability of generative AI tools has become a leading enterprise risk.
“It's really important to do your research in terms of understanding what different tools exist out there and what their capabilities or use cases are because they're not all the same and it's not one-size-fits-all,” Levy says.
“ChatGPT is not the only generative AI tool out there; it just happens to be probably the most well-known one,” he adds.
Utilizing existing tools
Levy acknowledges generative AI is attracting the most attention in technology at the moment, but he says there are a variety of additional tools in-house legal pros could use to enhance their work.
These other options include well-known and longstanding technology offerings that Levy says could be more effectively used.
For example, Microsoft Word can help with creating and formatting legal documents in an automated way. Meanwhile, Adobe’s PDF editor can be used for redacting and securing documents, he says.
“Oftentimes people underutilize their existing tools because they get distracted by the new technologies out there that look like they're fun and fancy and attractive, but what they're looking for really can be found just in the tools they already use,” Levy says.
For in-house professionals looking to expand their use of technology, Levy recommends they make use of publicly available educational resources.
In recent years, Levy has increasingly made his own contributions in this domain, including through his website colinslevy.com, which offers a mix of legal-tech related content.
Levy also edited and wrote a chapter for the recently released Handbook of Legal Tech.
The book features contributions from other well-known names in the legal tech community, and its goal is to provide readers with an introduction to key areas within legal tech that are reshaping the practice of law.
Levy says chapters that cover AI, contract lifecycle management, document automation and legal analytics are among those that would be of interest to in-house professionals. He reports that the feedback to the handbook has been very positive to date.
“It's been very much welcomed by the community, and I think a lot of folks have seen it as a natural extension of what I do on a daily basis in terms of helping support, inform and inspire the legal tech community,” Levy says.
In that spirit, Levy says, a book he is writing about legal technology will be published later this year.