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Pairing AI and Automation at Legalweek 2023

by Vivan Marwaha

In a short few months, ChatGPT, its successor GPT-4, and generative AI have become a global sensation. The ability of a computer program to pass the bar, the SAT, the US medical licensing examination, and even sommelier examinations, has turned the world’s attention to the benefits, and dangers, of generative AI.

The legal industry is no exception. At the recently concluded Legalweek 2023 in New York City, few were immune from discussing ChatGPT. From panelists to attendees, AI was the talk of the town.

The general consensus? AI might not replace lawyers, but lawyers who use AI are going to replace those who don’t.

Indeed, today a growing number of legal professionals are already using AI-powered tools to tame big data and find critical information faster. 

But how useful is AI on its own – generative or not – if legal professionals continue to struggle with automating manual tasks?

ChatGPT can recommend a wine pairing or help draft a brief, but still too many lawyers are stuck handling a variety of frustrating, low-value tasks. To truly free them up to do high-value work, they need tools to automate manual and complicated data processes so they have the time, and freedom, to capitalize on AI and advanced analytics.

Automating Away Menial Tasks

The legal industry is ready to move to the cloud. As ESI explodes in size and scope, legal teams are confronted by ever growing data volumes but shorter timelines and flat resources. Collecting, ingesting, processing, reviewing, and producing this data is becoming increasingly complex and complicated. 

AI therefore becomes an amazing tool to cull datasets and find critical information faster. However, AI can only be utilized on data haystacks that can be reviewed, and with tools that make advanced capabilities easy and reliable. And for that to happen, they must be available on cloud-based platforms. 

That’s where automation comes in. Many legal teams are still manually downloading and then uploading data for processing and review, running simple keyword searches, and reviewing data sets doc by doc. That’s countless hours and resources wasted, when automation could achieve similar results with fewer challenges. In that vein, in a conversation with Everlaw, Doug Austin, Editor of Ediscovery Today, recapped how attendees were excited to be talking about cloud connectors — since connectors are the most impactful tools to automate previously manual and arduous tasks. "Cloud connectors are pushing ediscovery to the left by pulling in data from a growing number of sources," he stated.

Without powerful technology first year associates at the firm would have been left conducting menial work, leading to the firm writing off almost half of their time.

The value of automation, in addition to AI, was a thread that wove itself throughout Legalweek, in panels, presentations, and discussions on the floor. Legalweek panelists and conversations focused on the need for law firms and legal departments to automate manual tasks in order to prioritize higher value work and deliver better client results.

At Everlaw’s panel on ‘Working Apart: How to Collaborate in the New Remote and Hybrid Legal World’ Meredith Williams-Range, Chief Client Strategy & Growth Office at Shearman & Sterling mentioned how without powerful technology first year associates at the firm would have been left conducting menial work, leading to the firm writing off almost half of their time. This is where modern technology can help improve margins, by automating arduous tasks while also making it easier to recruit top talent.

Jayme Jonat, Partner at Holwell, Shuster, & Goldberg LLP, added that, with the rise in sophisticated technology, associates are now participating in client strategy since the technology is doing all the redundant tasks. Jonathan Sabin, Partner at Kane & Kessler took the discussion one step further by highlighting how his firm uses Everlaw’s collaboration capabilities to allow clients and attorneys to work together seamlessly. He stated how his client was “blown away with the power of collaboration at marginal cost.” 

Moving on From Manual Work

Veteran legal professionals at the conference were energized by the pace of innovation in the industry. They remember all too well the days of manually combing through documents to find critical information and understand key relationships. That’s why AI was in the air of the Midtown Hilton.

AI might not replace lawyers, but lawyers who use AI are going to replace those who don’t.

As the legal industry races to adopt AI in order to stay ahead of the curve and do more with less, modern technology platforms are going to become critical partners in their success. Last year, Everlaw launched Clustering, an AI-powered unsupervised machine learning tool that can display up to 25 million documents on a single screen, grouped together by conceptual similarity.

At Legalweek 2023, Everlaw unveiled Communication Visualizer, the latest addition to the company’s powerful Data Visualizer, which automatically generates all key parties and players in any slice of your data haystack. Akin to social network analysis, Communication Visualizer enables legal professionals to understand their key players before review begins. 

Today's legal professionals deserve the best software. Modern, powerful technology by Everlaw is providing hundreds of law firms and corporate legal departments with cutting-edge tools to tame Big Data. Learn more about Everlaw’s cloud-native technology and request your demo here.