What legal teams can expect from AI in 2024 

2023 may be remembered as the year that artificial intelligence (AI) truly became a part of our daily lives.  

2023 may be remembered as the year that artificial intelligence (AI) truly became a part of our daily lives.  

From the debut of Chat GPT in November 2022 to now, many significant milestones, particularly with generative AI (GenAI), have been reached along the way. 

AI has exploded in both our professional and personal lives, aiding people in a variety of tasks ranging from creating shopping lists and meal plans to negotiating and redlining a contract.  

While AI is enjoyed by many business professionals to help save time and brainpower, it also poses significant concerns around topics such as safety, ethics, accuracy, and data privacy. And with recent news that Chat GPT is capable of passing the bar exam (in the 90th percentile!), legal professionals are understandably concerned about the future of their livelihoods, too. 

With such compelling positives and negatives, there are naturally what Lexfusion’s Casey Flaherty calls AI “hypists” and “haters” on either side of the AI revolution. But no matter where you fall, one thing we can all agree on is that AI is here to stay, and that the future of legal tech in 2024 may be even more action-packed than the previous year.  
 
Read on to learn more about the evolution of AI for Legal professionals over the past year and where it is headed in this new year. 

Milestones: What happened to legal tech AI in 2023? 

AI is not technology of the distant future – it’s already being used by contracting professionals to aid them in routine, repetitive, and tedious work.  According to the results from a survey we recently conducted, about one in five respondents actively engage with AI today, with the EMEA market ahead of the U.S. in current adoption. 

How do legal tech professionals currently use AI? 

Respondents to our survey currently use it to:   

  • Search contracts (56%)  
  • Summarize changes made from one contract version to the next (50%)  
  • Summarize key provisions to speed up approvals (50%)  
  • Import data from legacy contracts (44%) 

Unsurprisingly, these “often-skeptical” legal professional respondents did note a significant concern regarding accuracy. (65% reported being concerned.) 

But as Agiloft’s Laura Richardson, General Counsel, told LegalTechNews, “fearlessness is a must” if the legal industry wants to truly embrace GenAI. 

“With the surge of new GenAI-powered solutions, legal tech providers and customers have had to balance their excitement over the immense potential of this emerging technology with the challenges of implementation, privacy and copyright concerns, ethical considerations, and regulatory uncertainty,” Richardson said. “But fearlessness is a must, because GenAI is here to stay and leaning into this moment is critical for companies to remain competitive and for legal leaders to keep their seats at the decision-making table.” 

Predictions: What will happen to AI in 2024? 

Within the legal department itself, attorneys are catching on to AI’s effectiveness and ability to streamline workflow, since they are more than twice as likely as legal operations to have purchasing AI in their plans to assist with contracting tasks in the next 6-12 months. 

What do legal professionals want to use AI for in the future? 

  • Auto-draft contracts (69%)  
  • Importing data from legacy contracts (57%)  
  • Summarize changes from one contract version to the next (54%)  

Even at this relatively early stage of AI technology, legal professionals recognize the value it brings, which will only increase as the technology develops, more uses are discovered, and hesitancy or fear related to new technology lessens. 

“The legal industry’s initial reaction to Generative AI (GenAI) ranged from fear to excitement. However, over the past five months, a more rational view has emerged, with most practitioners now seeing GenAI as an enabling technology that will supplement human decision-making, not replace it,” Prashant Dubey, Agiloft’s Chief Strategy Officer, told LegalTech News. “This rapid shift in perspective suggests that the legal industry is becoming more open to technology disruption and that the long, introspective, tentative cycles associated with technology adoption are over, and adoption rates will continue to accelerate.” 

Dubey also told LegalTech News that he predicted legal professionals will clearly distinguish between traditional AI and GenAI in 2024, enabling information application in enterprise processes like contract management. 

“Companies will adopt a pragmatic approach to GenAI implementation, emphasizing human-centricity, practicality, and measurable ROI. Initial experiments with proprietary LLMs will reveal the limitations of unstructured data, leading to a reliance on external, purpose-built LLMs offering continuous improvement and affordability,” Dubey said. “Responsible GenAI implementations will prevail, countering the FOMO-driven hype perpetuated by legal tech companies who overpromise in a quest to sell faster than their ability to deliver true value allows.” 

Will AI be regulated in 2024?

According to MIT Technology Review, 2024 is going to be the year that sweeping AI laws are implemented. The European Union has already agreed on the AI Act, which will be officially approved and implemented in 2024. But the future of regulation in the United States is still unclear, Dubey told LegalTech News.

“A big question among legal circles right now is ‘will Congress act on AI?’ By failing to pass federal laws on privacy for more than 20 years after the FTC called on Congress to act, there is little faith that Congress, given the current environment, will act decisively on AI. Which means Europe may be setting the standard, like they did with the GDPR, leaving the US to navigate a patchwork of state and local laws in the near term. But experience is a valuable teacher and with generative AI already too big to fail, there will be ample pressure on Congress from all sides to act quickly. Be prepared for a rocky road ahead.”

AI regulation is a complex and evolving field, and it is difficult to predict the exact nature of regulations that will be implemented in 2024. However, there is clearly a growing recognition of the need for comprehensive AI regulation that balances innovation, ethics, and privacy.

The future of AI is all about the data

“Channeling James Carville, ‘it’s the data, stupid!’” said Richardson to Law.com. “Even with the focus on generative AI (GAI), data is the currency of the future, and the importance of prioritizing data cannot be overstated. CLM platforms that are flexible and take a data-first approach are in a great position to maximize the impact of GAI capabilities, resulting in better value for companies who rely on data to achieve their strategic goals. Flexible, data-centric solutions will also be more resilient over time, which gives them an advantage in helping companies better respond to rapid change and increasing regulatory complexity.”

Conclusion

Every day – literally – brings with it new advancements for legal tech AI.  

While writing this article, OpenAI debuted its GPT Store, which, styled like Apple’s App Store, allows non-technical users to create and sell a wide range of custom GPT-based apps for specific purposes. A search in the store for the term “legal” already brings back hundreds of results for GPTs focused on varying legal issues.  

While nobody can see the future, it doesn’t take a crystal ball to know that the “genie isn’t going back in the bottle” and that AI revolution is here. By embracing AI as a tool and leveraging its capabilities as a force multiplier for legal professionals, we can navigate the complexities of this revolution and harness its potential for positive change. 

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