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Decoding ILTACON 2023: Key Takeaways on AI's Impact on the Legal Profession

Stacked3Here is my recent Daily Record column. My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.


Decoding ILTACON 2023: Key Takeaways on AI's Impact on the Legal Profession

Last month I attended the International Legal Technology Association Conference (ILTACON). This year’s conference was full of excitement about the potential of legal technology and its impact on the practice of law. Particularly noteworthy was the focus on generative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, a rapidly evolving field that will have significant implications for the legal profession as a whole.

This year's event was more than just a chance to network and exchange business cards; it was a deep dive into the seismic shifts that generative AI is causing in our industry. Whether the topic of conversation was ChatGPT, Bing Chat, or generative AI tools built into legal platforms, the anticipation in the air was palpable, and the enthusiasm for the possibilities was unprecedented.

The data disseminated during the conference supported the bold claims that we're on the cusp of revolutionary changes, despite some of the current challenges faced when integrating generative AI into legal processes, including confidentiality issues and inaccurate results. What follows are some of the key takeaways derived from two reports released at the conference.

First, there’s the 2023 LexisNexis Global Legal Generative AI Survey, which targeted an international audience and asked respondents to weigh in on their familiarity with this emerging technology. According to the report, an impressive 89% of legal professionals are acquainted with generative AI, while consumer awareness lags at 61%.

The survey results also showed that the majority of lawyers worldwide recognize the potential of generative AI, with 65% citing research as the main possible application for generative AI tools, which is a somewhat surprising outcome given the recent negative news headlines about the false case citations derived from ChatGPT. Other important use cases cited by survey respondents include drafting documents (56%), document analysis (44%), and automating email correspondence (35%).

Survey data also showed that in the legal community, the current generative AI adoption rate for legal-specific tasks is only 15%. Nonetheless, a more optimistic 43% are either already employing or intend to employ generative AI in their legal workflows. A strong majority—77%—anticipate that these tools will enhance the efficiency of legal professionals, including lawyers, paralegals, and law clerks.

For those legal professionals who are already using generative AI tools, the survey results showed that the majority are using it for research (62%), while nearly half (46%) utilize it for document drafting, 42% rely on it to assist with email drafting, 29% for understanding new legal concepts, and 23% for document analysis.

Finally, close to half of all legal practitioners surveyed (47%) predict that generative AI will bring about significant or transformative changes in the field of law. A near-unanimous 92% expect the technology to exert at least some level of influence on legal practice.

In contrast, the Everlaw 2023 eDiscovery Innovation Report, also shared at the conference, offers a less favorable outlook. A mere 6% of those surveyed believe that the legal field is ready for the advent of generative AI, with more than 72% either disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with that sentiment. A smaller subset of 21% of those surveyed remained neutral. The leading concern among respondents was the accuracy of these AI tools, cited by 46%. Despite these reservations, a noteworthy 40% are either: 1) already implementing (12%) generative AI tools in their firms or 2) have plans to implement them in their firms (28%).

The data released at ILTACON 2023 provides evidence of the increased interest in generative AI and the impact that it will have on the legal industry. It’s clear that these technologies are not simply supplementary tools and instead have the potential to redefine the very nature of legal work. Whether you're an attorney in a large firm, a boutique practice, or a solo practitioner, the question isn’t if, but how quickly and strategically you can adopt and implement these advancements into your firm, with the end result being a more efficient, profitable, and client-centric practice.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the Head of SME and External Education at MyCase legal practice management software, an AffiniPay company. She is the nationally-recognized author of "Cloud Computing for Lawyers" (2012) and co-authors "Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier" (2010), both published by the American Bar Association. She also co-authors "Criminal Law in New York," a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes regular columns for Above the Law, ABA Journal, and The Daily Record, has authored hundreds of articles for other publications, and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law and emerging technologies. She is an ABA Legal Rebel, and is listed on the Fastcase 50 and ABA LTRC Women in Legal Tech. She can be contacted at [email protected].