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Thomson Reuters' AI Debut Signals a New Era of Widespread AI Integration in Legaltech

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

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Thomson Reuters' AI Debut Signals a New Era of Widespread AI Integration in Legaltech

Have you been tracking the explosive rate of generative artificial intelligence (AI) innovation? If not, you’re at the risk of being left behind. Innovation and investment in this space are off the charts, and all signs point to continued and exponential shifts that will significantly impact the legal profession.

The AI revolution began less than a year ago when OpenAI publicly launched ChatGPT 3.5 on November 30, 2022. Then on March 14, 2023, with the release of ChatGPT powered by GPT-4, the influx of rapid advancements began at a record pace as software companies worked at lightning-fast speed to integrate the power of GPT-4 technology into their products.

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that legal technology companies have joined the fray. Since early 2023, over one hundred announcements from legal technology companies have emerged, detailing plans to incorporate generative AI functionality into their products. Although most products are still in beta, rest assured that regardless of the software platforms used in your firm, you can expect that generative AI will soon be seamlessly integrated into the tools that are part of the daily workflows of legal professionals in your firm.

Proof in point: Wednesday’s generative AI announcements from Thomson Reuters offer strong evidence that we’re entering a new era of widespread AI integration. For Thomson Reuter’s legal customers, the integrated generative AI experience will soon be a reality and readily accessible across several different products. This newfound capability largely stems from leveraging CoCounsel, a generative AI legal assistant tool acquired by Thomson Reuters as part of the acquisition of Casetext for $650 million, which was completed in August.

The AI-powered updates announced by Thomson Reuters include: 1) generative AI-Assisted research is now available to all Westlaw Precision customers, 2) the launch of a generative legal AI assistant interface next year across all Thomson Reuters generative AI products (Practical Law Dynamic Tool Set, Document Intelligence, and HighQ), and 3) CoCounsel Core, a legal assistant that complements Westlaw Precision and provides lawyers with eight core skills: AI-Assisted Research on Westlaw Precision, Prepare for a Deposition, Draft Correspondence, Search a Database, Review Documents, Summarize a Document, Extract Contract Data, and Contract Policy Compliance.

If Thomson Reuters’ investment of time, resources, and money into this technology doesn’t convince you of its inescapable impact on our profession, I’m not sure what will. The writing is on the wall: adapt or fall behind. If you don’t take advantage of this technology, your competitors will. 

For the skeptics: This is not a fleeting trend, but a permanent change in our industry. Instead, it represents a seismic shift that will change the way legal work is done. The integration of AI through platforms like Westlaw Precision and CoCounsel will revolutionize legal workflows by offering unprecedented efficiencies. 

The stakes are high. Rather than burying your head in the sand, approach this evolution with curiosity and proactivity. Attend seminars focused on generative AI and actively explore how the legal technology tools you depend on will incorporate or integrate this technology. Harness your newfound knowledge to make informed, strategic decisions that will lay the foundation for your firm's future success, using generative AI not only as a tool but as a strategic asset to benefit both your practice and your clients. 

The AI-enabled legal landscape is advancing at breakneck speed, and those who lag in embracing these tools will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. In today’s rapidly changing environment, staying informed and agile isn’t optional—it's essential for survival and success in the modern legal landscape.

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].


Beyond Word of Mouth: Proven Data-Driven Client Acquisition Methods

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

*****

Beyond Word of Mouth: Proven Data-Driven Client Acquisition Methods

What used to be tried and true client acquisition methods are no longer reliable in today’s digital world. Word-of-mouth referrals alone no longer suffice. In 2023, traditional approaches are complemented—and often overshadowed—by a variety of online client acquisition channels, including online search, social media, and paid online ads. The right mix of digital and traditional lead sources can set a practice apart, and understanding and leveraging the appropriate online channels is key for any firm looking to thrive in today's competitive legal marketplace.

Of course, every lawyer is different, and a firm’s practice areas will necessarily dictate its online marketing strategy. In today’s ever-changing online environment, the challenge is to identify the most affordable and impactful lead-generation approach for your law firm. If you’re not sure where to begin your research, the data from the recently published “LawPay and MyCase 2023 Benchmark Report Part 3: Getting Leads” is a great place to start.

This Report draws on anonymized data obtained from the MyCase and LawPay platforms. It provides lead generation insights, including a deep dive into lead sources, lead conversion rates, and the impact of payment types on consultation fee collection.

One important data point covered in the Report is lead conversion rates. Lead conversion rates are calculated by dividing the total leads converted into paying clients by the total number of leads overall during that same timeframe. The report reveals that, in 2023, the average lead conversion rate for lawyers in the database stands at 24%. Compare that percentage with your firm’s lead conversion rate to see how your firm stacks up. If your rate is significantly lower, it’s a sign that you may need to make some changes to your firm’s marketing processes.

There are many ways to do this, one of which is to add a client intake or contact form to your law firm’s website. This is an effective way to make your law firm more accessible to potential clients, especially during off hours, such as evenings or weekends. According to the Report, lawyers with client intake forms embedded on their firm websites captured an additional 58,395 leads in 2023. Of those leads, 10,286 ultimately became law firm clients. Given those numbers, don’t make the mistake of overlooking this relatively simple path to increasing your firm’s client base.

Of course, there are many other online marketing options available to lawyers. The tricky part is figuring out where to invest advertising dollars. The days when billboards, event sponsorships, or newspaper and TV ads sufficed are long gone. Instead, the online world offers a vast number of marketing avenues. This reality makes it difficult to know where to begin. 

Fortunately, the report's data offers valuable guidance. Your firm’s practice areas and associated clientele necessarily determine where you should focus your efforts online. For example, if your firm represents mostly business clients or professionals, then Instagram is probably not the best choice, and LinkedIn would be a better fit. That’s why the final section of the Report lists the top online lead sources for many different practice areas. Locate your practice areas and use the applicable data to make informed decisions about your firm’s marketing strategy.

Finally, don’t forget about the value of charging for consultation fees. The benefit is twofold: it signals that your time is valuable, and can also bring in significant revenue. According to the Report, lawyers who charged for consultations collected nearly $19 million from potential clients in 2023. Of that amount, nearly $17 million came from online payments for consultation fees. In other words, prospective clients were eight times more likely to use online payment processing tools than more traditional payment methods like check or cash. 

We live in a digital-first world, and navigating the ever-changing online environment is no small task. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. For many lawyers, adjusting to the pace of change and evolving lead generation options may seem daunting. That’s why data is your best friend; it equips you to make strategic, targeted marketing decisions for your law firm that will set it up for long-term growth and profitability. 

So what are you waiting for? Dive into the Report, embrace its insights, and set the stage for your firm’s marketing success!

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].