Ride the Lightning

Cybersecurity and Future of Law Practice Blog
by Sharon D. Nelson Esq., President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc.

Law Firms Hasten to Recruit AI Experts: Clients Seek “More for Less”

July 12, 2023

Bloomberg reported on July 5 that law firms are hot on the trail of AI experts as they are pressured by clients who want “more for less.”

All you have to do is look at the job openings in the last six months. The competition for legal tech experts, especially AI experts, is intense.

The larger the law firm, the more likely it has put together a team to figure out how to incorporate generative AI in its work. Is it the end of lawyers? Surely not. But lawyers working with AI are far more likely to be sought after by clients.

Mind you, they must be very smart lawyers, who understand both the perils and benefits of AI. They must be aware of the ethical challenges presented by AI, including what is, today, the unsolvable problem of AI hallucinations which cause the AI to simply make things up.

While AI can’t work entirely alone, it can get rid of some mighty tedious tasks, especially those performed by junior lawyers. It can quickly analyze lengthy documents, predict successful arguments based on previous cases or devise deposition questions based on pre-defined criteria.

In early 2023, Allen & Overy was the first of the Magic Circle of top UK law firms to announce a chatbot to help lawyers draft contracts and client memos. Other firms are now piloting legal AI ‘assistants’ like Casetext Inc.’s CoCounsel, including Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, which began a trial of the software in June.

Travers Smith, also based in London, recently promoted one of its software engineers to the role of AI manager and is planning to build a customized custom AI model for the firm. Liverpool-based Weightmans hired two junior legal engineers this year to meet client demand for tech expertise, according to Catriona Wolfenden, the firm’s innovation manager.

At Macfarlanes, one senior team member is now studying for a master’s in AI at the University of Cambridge. Allen & Overy expects to add more data scientists to its 20 member team of lawyers and developers who work on AI-powered software that can draft contract clauses or facilitate negotiations, according to partner Francesca Bennetts.

“It’s an unmistakable trend,” says Christina Blacklaws, a legal consultant and chair of Lawtech UK, a government-backed project to transform the UK legal industry through technology. “A lot of this is driven by clients who want more for less: more transparency, more cost-effective legal services.”

Generative AI is on its way to morphing the practice of law. In the last six months, it has definitively charted a course for successful law firms to follow. Law firms that use generative AI are going to have a significant advantage over law firms that do not use AI.

Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., President, Sensei Enterprises, Inc.
3975 University Drive, Suite 225, Fairfax, VA 22030
Email:  Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology