For almost every business challenge there’s an AI-powered solution. In this article, we look at how AI can help the in-house legal team – and how it affects the GC’s role across the wider organisation.
Artificial intelligence and the real life in-house legal team
From medicine to the military, transportation to finance and from robotics to regulation, AI is driving automation in almost all walks of life.
Closer to home, Facebook, Instagram and Google Maps are just a few of the apps with AI embedded within them many of us are using every day.Once seen as an exciting, but distant, sci-fi inspired future, AI is very much with us in the here and now.
So what is AI?
In a nutshell, AI refers to the ability of a machine (a computer in most cases) to study huge amounts of data sets and, by simulating human intelligence processes, learn from them. With this knowledge, the machine can then relieve humans of a growing proportion of their workloads.
This is possible because AI programming focuses on four key cognitive skills:
- Learning – acquiring raw data and creating algorithms that set rules for turning that resource into information that is actionable;
- Reasoning – deciding which algorithm is most suitable for achieving a desired outcome;
- Self-correction – fine-tuning algorithms to continually improve accuracy; and
- Creativity – blending neural networks, algorithms, statistical methodologies and other techniques to produce text, music, images – and even new ideas.
AI is often referred to as ML or machine learning. The two terms are generally interchangeable.
How can AI help my in-house legal function?
AI can streamline time-consuming tasks. This can reduce the amount of work and free up precious time for higher value work.
But don’t worry – what AI cannot do is replace the expertise, strategic thinking or judgement of experienced lawyers who know the unique challenges and goals of their organisations.
If you’re looking to take the first steps with AI in your legal function, good places to start could include:
- Legal research and due diligence: as well as saving time, AI tools that help you conduct research, analyse case law, identify relevant statutes and regulations can give you the insights you need to make informed decisions;
- Contract automation: AI can automate the generation of standardised documents such as non-disclosure agreements and employment contracts. This can increase efficiency and consistency across contracts;
- Document review and contract management: using a technique called natural language processing (NLP) AI can review legal documents. As well as speeding the process up, this can identify risks and improve contract management;
- Risk assessment and compliance: because AI can analyse enormous amounts of data, including regulatory changes, case precedents and industry trends, it can give you real time risk alerts and compliance recommendations;
- Data privacy and security: you can use AI to identify sensitive data, monitor data breaches and help create privacy policies and procedures;
- E-discovery and litigation support: AI can review and categorise electronic documents. Predictive analytics, meanwhile, can help assess case outcomes, develop litigation strategies and manage electronic evidence; and
- Strategic decision-making: AI-driven analytics and predictive modelling can inform decisions around legal strategy, litigation risk and compliance planning. It can identify patterns and show potential outcomes. All this can help you draft strategic recommendations for senior management.
Writing in The Global Legal Post in March 2022, Luke Taylor, then of Luminance, the London based business that produces AI technology for processing legal documents, said:
“It will be fascinating to see how the adoption of AI by in-house teams changes their relationships with their external legal advisers. In our view, the result can only be positive. If both parties have cutting edge technology at their fingertips, then they are both free to focus on the work that machines cannot replicate, namely creative and critical thinking. What’s more, matters can progress at a quicker rate and with a reduced level of risk, with teams no longer forced to trade thoroughness for efficiency.”
AI in your wider organisation
Even if you’re not planning to use AI in the legal function any time soon, it’s possible that other parts of your organisation will – or already are.
In this case, you’ll need to keep abreast of the constantly evolving AI landscape and the legal and ethical implications of its use. Colleagues will look to legal for advice, so you may need to develop guidelines and policies for areas such as:
- Responsible adoption of AI – particularly with regard to sensitive data;
- Compliance with existing and emerging regulations;
- Ethical questions related to AI technology and its impacts; and
- Legal risks associated with the use of AI.
AI won’t change the need for GCs to remain predominantly generalists. However, it adds another discipline that you’ll need to be knowledgeable about, both in terms of its capabilities and its limitations. Depending on the nature of your organisation, it may be advisable to recruit an AI subject matter expert into your team.
We thought it fitting to give the closing word, unedited, to this piece to ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI and released in November 2022:
“AI is transforming the role of General Counsel, empowering them to be strategic advisors and efficient problem-solvers. With AI's analytical capabilities, data processing speed, and predictive insights, General Counsel can make informed decisions, manage risks, and drive business success. Embrace the AI revolution! #AI #GeneralCounsel #FutureOfLaw”