Lessons from LegalEdCon 2023 – the impact of technology and AI on the future of the legal profession

Lessons from LegalEdCon 2023 – the impact of technology and AI on the future of the legal profession

Stephanie Lawrence, Senior Product Manager at Ӱ UK, recently spoke at . Stephanie took part in a dynamic panel discussion focused on the impact of technology and AI on the future of the legal profession. We asked Stephanie to answer some questions and share further insights from the event.

What does AI actually mean, and what are the main types of AI?

When most people think about Artificial Intelligence (AI) they have generative AI in mind, programmes which can provide plausible, well-formed answers to written questions. These are ‘trained’ on huge datasets and can learn and adapt to improve the quality of response, without following explicit instructions (although at Ӱ, this is always with human oversight). It can generate new content to provide plausible, well-formed answers which are original content, created by the AI. Lexis+ AI and ChatGPT are examples of this type of AI.

The other type is extractive AI. We use extractive AI to find answers within existing content sets. Lexis Answers is an example of where we have used Extractive AI to surface a direct answer to a user question, much like the answer cards you might see on a Google results page

Legal tech is developing rapidly, where do you see the legal tech landscape in the next 10 years?

The legal field acknowledges the impact of generative AI. In a recent study conducted by Ӱ, we found that 84% of lawyers and law students believe it will increase the efficiency of the profession. Many others recognise that it will significantly transform the practice of law. 

So in the near term, we’ll expect to see lawyers using AI to inform their own practice by asking questions and to save time by summarising documents.  

The uptake may be more tentative when drafting documents – it’s not an area you can afford to make mistakes. But once people feel confident with the technology and find out how they can get the best out of it, it will be acknowledged as a great time saver.

Further out, lawyers may well use AI to complete an element of the legal process, but I think this will then be passed back to the lawyer for review and a sense check. This will be invaluable – at first for predictable tasks, like extending a lease, but will extend out to more complex tasks as the technology improves.

Download our free report: generative AI and the future of the legal profession

With all the new developments on the horizon, how might roles change or evolve in the industry?

I think the lawyer of the future will still need the same essential skills as today, but some skills will grow in importance. We’re already seeing large law firms where taking a technical career path is an option for those who are interested, and this is a trend which is set to continue.

Interpersonal skills will become even more important as a differentiator for lawyers, as AI does more of the heavy lifting on the analytical and processing side. People usually only contact lawyers to mitigate risk or at a time of crisis. In both of those circumstances, the ability to make authentic connection with clients is all-important for forging lasting partnerships.                               

What part does Ӱ have to play in the development of legal technology?

Ӱ has been a leader in deploying AI to the legal market; we have been using AI technologies for many years. We took BERT (a Google-developed machine learning technique, for natural language processing) to law school when Google first open-sourced the trailblazing language model in 2018.

We have several search features in production that use GPT-3, and have been working with ChatGPT and GPT-4 since it was released.

Over the last 10 years, we’ve spent more than $1 billion reinvesting in our tech stack so we can be nimble and easily incorporate new technologies into our products where they make sense. We evaluate and test new technologies that enhance our offerings quickly, and our product infrastructure supports multiple releases every day. ​ 

How will the industry, and Ӱ, maintain ethics through the development of AI?

While we’re awaiting official regulation, it is very important that providers of legal AI hold themselves to the highest ethical standards.

Our experience is that legal firms are seeking reassurance and evidence that any AI solution is trained only on reliable data, that it respects the privacy of their clients and that their inputs are never used to train AI. We have found a policy of openness about how our technology works gives the reassurance needed to move forward with solutions such as Lexis+ AI.

Ӱ follows the , considering the real-world impact of its solutions on people and taking action to prevent the creation or reinforcement of unfair bias. 

Is legal tech a friend or foe, and why?

Definitely a friend. But even with your best friend, it’s important to set some boundaries.

For more about Lexis+ AI – register your interest here and we will keep you up to date with how Lexis+ AI can transform legal work. Find out more about , published in May.

Read further insights on generative AI and the future of the legal profession in our new report. 

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About the author:
Pryanka leads marketing for the bar and academic communities at Ӱ UK. Having graduated with a Bachelor of Laws, she developed a passion for the rule of law – the underlying purpose of the business, and now helps customers maximise their skills and reach by making the most of their legal technology solutions. Pryanka joined the Ӱ team in 2014, and has taken on a number of roles across HR, internal communications at Ӱ and parent company RELX, and most recently, in strategy.