Why This Time It's Different: AI's Pivotal Turn in Legal Tech

As the iPhone redefined our interaction with mobile tech, so too is ChatGPT poised to reshape the legal tech industry.

 min. read
September 20, 2023
Why This Time It's Different: AI's Pivotal Turn in Legal Tech

The evolution of technology is a fascinating narrative, filled with peaks of inspiration and troughs of stagnation. Just like the mobile phone industry had its moments of revolution, we are witnessing a similar upheaval in the realm of AI. The touchstone? ChatGPT's release last Fall.

For those of us who've observed the unfolding of tech history, we can't ignore the parallels. The mobile phone was by no means an invention of the 2000s; however, the iPhone's entry dramatically shifted our perspective, showcasing what was truly achievable with a sleek design and a user-centric approach. In many ways, the AI world is currently experiencing its own 'iPhone moment'.

We've heard about AI and even generative AI for the last 20 years, what makes this time different when it comes to legal tech?:

The Perfect Storm of Progress:

The confluence of abundant tagged data (copyrighted or otherwise), advanced hardware capabilities, and innovative interfaces, such as ChatGPT, has allowed us to reach a critical mass. The troves of available data, coupled with the immense power of contemporary hardware, has created the perfect environment for AI to flourish.

Upcoming Technological Revolutions:

We stand on the precipice of a major shift in hardware, with game-changing technologies poised to be unveiled within the next 18 to 24 months by everyone from Nvidia to Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. This advancement will supercharge AI capabilities and further embed its utilities in industries like the legal world. In the near future, consumers will have their own, custom-tuned LLM just for them. It will know everything they have read, watched, every email they have sent and received, every calendar invite, etc. Privacy concerns aside, this will be a massive productivity boost and will become table stakes for anyone looking to compete at the highest levels of business.

Seamless Integration Into Current Workflows:

The beauty of the latest generation of AI, lies in its ability to mesh with existing systems. For the last 25 years, technological solutions posed the conundrum of "efficiency vs. convenience". They promised streamlined operations but at the cost of overhauling long-standing work patterns. Lawyers do not like change.

The unique proposition of generative AI is its adaptability. If an attorney can wield the power of generative AI while working on Microsoft Word or surfing the web, then we've hit the bullseye. Today, several law firms have embraced this technology, not because it's the new shiny toy, but because it augments their capabilities without disrupting their comfort zone.

Guidance, Not Overhaul:

The critical approach is not to replace but to guide. As generative AI makes inroads into law firms, it's imperative to set the right boundaries, ensuring that while AI aids, it doesn't overpower. Attorneys don't need a tech makeover; they need a tech partner. And that’s where AI comes into play and why this is going to be different this time.

The future with generative AI at the center is going to be disruptive to say the least. The law firms and solo practitioners that embrace this technology and find the right partners will navigate and flourish. Those that don't, will struggle in the face of increasing price pressure and more efficient competitors. The narrative is clear: it's not about reinventing the wheel; it's about making it roll faster, smoother, and in tune with the rhythm of the legal world.