By: 26 April 2024
GenAI: a technology lawyer’s perspective

Aneeqa Kisil, Maia Crockford, Susan Ford and Tim Ryan, DAC Beachcroft. 


The applications, benefits, challenges and ethical implications of artificial intelligence (AI) have been at the forefront of the legal press, not least because of the recent unanimous endorsement of the EU AI Act by the European parliament.


How can GenAI benefit the legal industry?

It is well-known that AI can be harnessed for upgrading and streamlining back office processes in a number of industries. In relation to LegalTech, very few lawyers delight in purely administrative tasks – billing, email sorting and fraud checks, to name a few.

With limited likelihood of computer error in these important but potentially automated tasks (indeed, removal of human error may be more pertinent), many are keen to embrace the efficiencies. However, it is the novel prospect of using generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) in legal practice, including its subset of large language models (known as LLMs, of which ChatGPT is a non-sector specific example), that is the topic of discussion at present.


Are lawyers keen to implement AI?

Perhaps unsurprisingly for professionals who pride themselves on the quality of their own communications, awareness of GenAI is high but uptake has been relatively slow. Recent research conducted by LexisNexis showed that only 26% of lawyers surveyed are regularly using GenAI tools.

Furthermore, 55% of these lawyers lack trust in current AI technology. This scepticism is not a good idea for technology lawyers, for several reasons. The team at DAC Beachcroft advises clients, both customers and suppliers of technology, in Yorkshire, nationally and internationally. We now receive queries on GenAI in numerous sectors on a daily basis – on matters ranging from building AI algorithms and procuring AI systems to new law and regulation to advising on IP and data issues. DAC Beachcroft is also an established member of the LegalTech in Leeds initiative.

The team run a series of events throughout the year aimed at bringing together the legal and tech sectors and students in Leeds interested in a career in these areas. This includes an annual conference in April with a theme this year of ‘Inclusion, Innovation and Inspiration’. DAC Beachcroft, along with other members of the initiative, also attended the recent GenAI roundtable forum, organised by the Law Society, which resulted in a definite appeal to the Law Society and the SRA to continue to support and provide clarity around the regulations and expectations in this developing area.


What does the future hold for LegalTech?

In order to understand and address these concerns accurately, it is important for us to stay across the latest developments, which involves us testing and making use of the latest GenAI tools ourselves. We are aware that there have been impressive developments in technology for the use of lawyers in recent months.

Whilst it is hard to envisage that some of the bespoke, creative client solutions we have worked on in recent weeks could be re-created by even the most sophisticated GenAI, we certainly acknowledge that it is highly likely that certain tasks will be more rapidly and efficiently achieved by use of GenAI. Ultimately, anything which improves the client experience is a good thing. Specialist models have been trained on large amounts of relevant data in consultation with leading lawyers and this has resulted in logical written output. This includes analyses of judgments with robust views on likely consequences, or complex contractual drafting, for example.

A comprehensive report or comparison can be generated more quickly than by a junior lawyer, who then has time available to check for any errors (known as hallucinations) and present a document capable of presentation to colleagues and clients. Lawyers will also have more time to deliver value on complex legal advice, receive training on key legal issues and continue to be experts in the sectors in which our clients operate.


Having first-hand experience of the risks and benefits of GenAI means that we are able to advise our clients properly, suggest novel ideas and continue to grow our own business as we keep abreast of the rapid developments in the field.


Image: Canva.
Guest Post
This post has been contributed by a guest writer.