Legal Tech Revolution: Balancing Innovation and Regulation

Image of an AI arm reaching towards the scales of justice. Text reads: Legal Tech Revolution: Balancing Innovation and Regulation

Director Arron Rampling, Rampling Clarke, attended Legal Geek London. The largest legal innovation conference for all things Legal Tech hosted by Legal Geek. Over 3,000 attendees from 40 countries visited the event and Arron talks below about his key take home points.  

AI is everywhere! Everyone seems to be throwing the term around these days. But what does it mean for professionals and businesses in 2023? Is it just a buzzword, used to enhance the appeal of a product to new users? Or is this the next step in the digital revolution? In this article, I hope to delve into the implications of AI in the legal profession and the wider market: focusing on the impact AI has on time management, task simplification, and client relationships.  Additionally, I will be thinking about the shift towards short messaging platforms and the delicate balance between regulation and innovation and asking the important questions surrounding AI and its use.

AI in the Legal Profession

A primary goal of incorporating AI into the legal profession is to free up more time for legal practitioners: Allowing them to do what they do best – practice law.  These technologies have the potential to simplify tasks, such as reading contracts, and drafting NDAs autonomously, therefore increasing efficiency within law firms.  In fact, according to a study by Harvard Business Review Law Department in their 2017 Survey – “A whopping 71% of law departments cite the need to increase productivity without increasing headcount as their main driver for AI adoption”.

However, I find myself asking: How much AI is too much? While AI may enhance efficiency and productivity, it raises my first question about the potential loss of ‘human touch’ in legal services. Can a client’s personal requirements still be met?  Or is that the core priority of AI entirely? To unlock real value in client relationships, rather than solely optimising processes.

Another thing to be considered is the security surrounding the use of AI in the legal profession.  When using a tool such as Chat GPT – an open platform – should firms be concerned about the security of documentation and client details in the wider world?  How can a firm use AI safely, in a way that ensures the protection of intellectual property and safeguards clients?  Would a firm that installs AI for documentation need to ensure a closed network secured by a ‘firewall’?

One must also consider: How accurate IS AI? And this, I think, is where it gets interesting. According to PWC Legal*, accuracy levels can reach over 90% with quality AI input training data. As opposed to human intelligence which often reaches an accuracy level of around 85% as a maximum. This 5% difference could be worth millions to larger firms, or affect on their credibility.   You can therefore understand why integration is taking place at such a rapid rate.

Arron Rampling attending Legal Geek Conference in London 2023. Image is a collage of various speakers and stalls discussing AI technology.

The Rise of Short Messaging Platforms

The way we communicate is also evolving rapidly. The convenience and immediacy of short messaging platforms have led to their growing popularity, and according to Georgia Foster from Relativity and Megan Sauve from Allen and Overy, who both spoke at the London Legal Geek conference, it’s anticipated that short messaging platforms (such as WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, IMessage, among others) will overtake traditional email by 2024.  Legal professionals need to adapt to this trend, whilst considering the implications for client communication, document sharing, and collaboration. 

In terms of regulation, most firms already document phone calls, text messages and/or WhatsApp into some internal portals to keep track of client communications. However, we can predict a shift bringing all those messaging apps into one global system within a firm.  This brings about the next big question; at what point does this infringe on your own personal intellectual property? Especially when WhatsApp, LinkedIn or even iMessage is concerned?

Balancing Regulation and Innovation in AI

One of the key challenges in the AI industry, particularly in Europe, is striking a balance between regulation and innovation. The European AI forum plays a crucial role in addressing this issue. While regulations are necessary to ensure ethical and responsible AI development, overly restrictive measures can stifle innovation. Legal tech companies must navigate these regulatory waters carefully, as they impact the direction and pace of AI adoption.  After listening Jeannette Gorzala from the European AI forum speak at the 2023 Legal Geek conference, I strongly believe all law firms should be taking careful consideration before implementing any AI technologies within their establishment.

Conclusion

AI is absolutely reshaping the legal tech landscape and the broader market.  While I agree it holds the potential to streamline processes, save time, and to better client relationships, I feel that questions must be raised about the extent of AI’s involvement in legal tasks.  Short messaging platforms are changing the way professionals communicate, demanding adaptation in the legal field. However, striking the right balance between regulation and innovation is critical, and we should look to the European AI forum as they continue to play a pivotal role in this.  As the legal tech industry continues to evolve, understanding all these dynamics will be crucial for firms to thrive in an AI-driven world.

I’m very keen to keep an eye on the link between AI and legal in the coming years and would welcome anyone to reach out with their own thoughts, events, or even talks to attend on the subject.

Legal Tech Revolution: Balancing Innovation and Regulation
Written by Rampling Clarke Director, Arron Rampling.
e: arron.rampling@ramplingclarke.co.uk
t: 07479510141


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*Statistics taken from presentation at Legal Geek Conference 2023.