Driving law firm efficiency: Proven productivity tips

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

*****

Driving Law Firm Efficiency: Proven Productivity Tips

In today’s ever-evolving world, technology has become a key differentiator for lawyers, driving productivity and profitability in a highly competitive market. According to a recent report, the correlation between technology adoption by law firms and increased efficiency is undeniable. There are proven productivity strategies that can streamline legal services and deliver measurable improvements in efficiency and profitability. Firms that take advantage of these tools can dramatically improve work processes and enhance the delivery of legal services.

In the MyCase + LawPay 2023 Benchmark Report Part 1, anonymized data was collected from law firm software users, with a focus on determining how work gets done in law firms. The data was analyzed to identify productivity gains and key performance indicators (KPIs) that would be useful as benchmarks for lawyers seeking to run their firms more effectively.

One notable finding from the report was that lawyers who used passive time-tracking tools captured significantly more time than lawyers who didn’t. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, this timekeeping tool works in the background, passively tracking all activities done on a computer or in a software program.

The data collected and analyzed showed that if you assume a $350 per hour billing rate, lawyers who used a passive time tracking tool billed an extra 64 hours amounting to additional billable time worth $202,882,750 in 2022. This means that on average, lawyers who used this feature invoiced an additional $22,425 last year!

The report also included data on the realization rates of solo lawyers. Utilization rates measure the amount of time that lawyers spend on billable work or client-related activities compared to the total amount of available working hours. This performance indicator provides insights into how effectively lawyers are using their time and resources to generate revenue for the firm or organization.

One of the calculated KPIs was for solo law firm customers who had at least 5,000 time entries in 2022. The results showed that on average those customers billed 1,539 hours in 2022. The utilization rate for those customers is 76%, and those attorneys billed, on average, 6.1 hours per workday. This is a great data point to use to determine how your firm stacks up and whether there are inefficiencies in your workflows that are reducing productivity.

Another KPI covered in the report was the work-in-progress (WIP) rate, which compares the ratio of the total number of active matters to the total number of matters closed over a certain period of time. Bankruptcy matters had the highest WIP (10.9) in 2022, followed by immigration (10.3), personal injury (10.1), trusts and estates (8.2), and criminal law (8.1). Overall, eleven practice areas were analyzed, and you’ll find WIP rates for each one in the report.

The report also included data on hours billed per case by practice area in 2022, along with data on the number of online court date reminders sent in 2022 for a variety of different practice areas. In other words, it includes various types of productivity data that can help you determine your firm's efficiency strengths and weaknesses. From this information, you can make educated decisions about choosing new tools for your firm to systemize workflows, increase overall efficiency, and significantly improve profitability.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the head of SME and External Education at MyCase  law practice management software, an AffiniPay company. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at [email protected].


LegalTech's AI Race: A Sign of What’s to Come

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

*****

LegalTech's AI Race: A Sign of What’s to Come

Last week, a generative AI acquisition in the legal technology space made news headlines.
Thomson Reuters announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire Casetext, a legal research software company, for the notable price of $650 million.

For the past decade, Casetext has provided a legal research platform grounded in AI technology. The company consistently developed innovative features that utilized AI technology to streamline legal research and brief creation, most recently releasing CoCounsel, a generative AI legal assistant tool powered by GPT-4, which is the same technology that powers ChatGPT Plus.

In mid-2022, Casetext was one of the first companies to begin working with Open AI, the company behind GPT-4. That partnership allowed Casetext to access GPT-4 months before its public release, and use it to develop CoCounsel, a cutting-edge legal assistant chatbot that included a number of built-in functionalities such as review and summarize documents, deposition preparation, database search, legal research memos, and contract analysis.

This Casetext acquisition is significant and is a sign of the tremendous impact that generative AI will have on the practice of law. According to Steve Hasker, president and CEO of Thomson Reuters, this acquisition will enable Thomson Reuters to quickly roll out generative AI capabilities to its customers and will change the workflows of legal professionals: “The acquisition of Casetext…will accelerate and expand our market potential for these offerings - revolutionizing the way professionals work, and the work they do.”

This acquisition comes on the tail of an announcement last month from another legal tech giant, LexisNexis, which rolled out the beta version of Lexis+ AI, the company’s generative AI platform that includes conversational search, document summarization, and intelligent legal drafting capabilities.

In response to Thomson Reuter’s acquisition announcement, LexisNexis VP of Corporate Development Bill Mills said, “We are leading the market in applying artificial intelligence to the legal industry…(and) have built the AI capabilities needed internally, which is allowing us to move at speed, without being slowed down by an acquisition process and subsequent integration. We are now rapidly introducing generative AI solutions across our product suite, helping customers to deliver better work product, faster than ever before, and to realize cost savings using secure tools they can trust.”

In other words, the gauntlet has been thrown and the legal generative AI race is on! However, the race to the finish line will undoubtedly be fraught with uncertainties and hurdles. The stakes are high, as are the benefits and risks.

One of the greatest challenges is the hallucination problem that occurs when generative AI tools provide categorically false information without batting a metaphorical eye. This issue has not yet been solved, and until an answer is discovered, the utility of generative AI in the legal context is limited to tasks that involve administrative and creative activities as opposed to more analytical and strategic functions.

Despite this temporary drawback, this technology has incredible potential and is improving at an exponential rate. In this rapidly evolving landscape, the true winners of the race will be the lawyers who keep up with the pace of change and take steps to learn about and successfully leverage AI's benefits while taking advantage of the products released by legal tech companies that effectively mitigate its ethical and practical risks.

The Casetext acquisition, along with LexisNexis’ focused efforts to develop and quickly release its own generative AI platform, are strong indicators that this technology is here to stay and will re-shape law firms and the practice of law in the months and years to come, quite possibly more than any other technology that preceded it.

At this point, there’s no turning back. So buckle up, level up, and keep your eyes on the road ahead. While the path ahead may be uncertain, and you’ll encounter bumps along the way, it’s full speed ahead. All aboard the generative AI rocket ship: let’s see where it takes us!

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].

 

 

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the head of SME and External Education at MyCase  law practice management software, an AffiniPay company. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at [email protected].


Unlocking the Potential of ChatGPT Plugins in Your Law Practice

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

*****

Unlocking the Potential of ChatGPT Plugins in Your Law Practice

The legal landscape is constantly evolving, and the advent of AI technologies has significantly accelerated the rate of change. One notable technology that has been making waves lately is ChatGPT, an advanced AI chatbot developed by OpenAI. 

As I discuss in this article, while this cutting-edge tool has the potential to significantly impact how legal work gets done, it must be used with care. Below you’ll learn what ChatGPT is, its benefits and risks, and the basics of ChatGPT plugins. I’ll also highlight the top 10 ChatGPT plugins that can be particularly beneficial for legal professionals.

What is ChatGPT and Why Does It Matter for Lawyers?

ChatGPT is a generative AI conversational chatbot that understands natural language and generates responses to queries based on context awareness. It is designed to streamline communication, research, and information processing. Because of these features, it can be a valuable tool for lawyers and has the potential to dramatically impact the practice of law, saving time and money. 

However, despite the many benefits generative AI offers legal professionals, there are also drawbacks to be aware of. For starters, its database is limited to a dataset containing information through 2021. As a result, responses are sometimes based on outdated information.

Additionally, this technology is not a stand-in for legal expertise. It does not replace legal knowledge or negate the ethical requirement of basic competence. A careful review of all work produced using generative AI tools will always be required.

Understanding Plugins and how they differ from Browser Extensions

ChatGPT is a powerful tool when used as a standalone chatbot, but its functionality can be enhanced using browser extensions, which I wrote about in April, or plugins, which I cover in this article.

Both browser extensions and plugins add functionality to a software application, but they differ in their scope and application. A browser extension is a small software module that customizes a web browser. A plugin is a software component that adds a specific feature to an existing software application, enhancing its capabilities. 

Recently, ChatGPT released plugins, which are available only to ChatGPT Plus subscribers. Many of the plugins solve the date limitation issue and can be used in conjunction with a ChatGPT conversation to provide further insight, context, and current information. Plugins are available in many different categories including travel, shopping, search, and data summarization and analysis. 

Top 10 ChatGPT Plugins for Lawyers

I’ve had access to plugins for a few weeks now and have experimented with many different types. After scouring through the ChatGPT plugins store, I’ve identified the top 10 plugins that I believe will be particularly useful for legal professionals:

  1. Prompt Perfect: This plugin helps users draft “perfect prompts” for ChatGPT making it easier to obtain specific and informative answers from the AI chatbot.
  2. Wolfram: This plugin provides access to advanced computations, math, and real-time data, making it useful for lawyers dealing with complex cases that require data analysis.
  3. Zapier: This plugin creates a bridge across software tools and allows users to interact with over 5,000 different work apps, including Gmail, MS Outlook, and Slack, streamlining workflows and increasing productivity.
  4. Link Reader: This plugin can analyze and process content from all kinds of links, including webpages, PDFs, images, and more, making it easier for lawyers to access and understand current information from a variety of sources.
  5. Block Atlas: This tool is great for litigators and other types of practitioners and enables you to easily search and analyze US census data.
  6. AskYourPDF: This AI-based chat system allows users to interact with PDF documents efficiently, allowing lawyers to extract content from PDF files quickly and generate summaries, analyses, and more.
  7. FiscalNote: This plugin provides real-time datasets of legal, political, and regulatory data and information. It offers a comprehensive platform that tracks legislation, regulations, and policy issues across various levels of government.
  8. KeyMate.AI Search: With this plugin, ChatGPT can be used to search the internet for the latest information, addressing the problem of outdated data.
  9. Web Pilot: Using this plugin, ChatGPT can access and interact with web pages based on one or more URLs and generates summaries, overviews, translations, and other information from web page content.
  10. World News: This plugin provides the latest news around the world, keeping lawyers updated on current events that may impact their practice.

Use ChatGPT Plugins Responsibly

To fully harness the potential of ChatGPT and its plugins, it’s important to prioritize ethical considerations when using these AI tools. First and foremost, refrain from sharing confidential client data unless you are confident that your queries will be protected and will remain private. Also, keep date and accuracy limitations in mind, and remember that even when GPT-powered tools are incorporated into legal-specific software, thus reducing the number of hallucinations, the potential for error nevertheless remains. Until this technology improves significantly, you will have to carefully review all output for errors. 

No matter how you look at it, ChatGPT and its plugins offer a wealth of opportunities for lawyers, allowing them to streamline their work processes, enhance productivity, and stay updated on current events. Through the incorporation of these innovative tools into their daily routine, legal professionals can effectively harness the power of AI technology to the benefit of their practice and their clients by carefully balancing the spirit of innovation and the obligations of professional responsibility. 

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the head of SME and External Education at MyCase  law practice management software, an AffiniPay company. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at [email protected].


Embracing the Future: The Latest Legal AI Release Signifies a Groundbreaking Shift 

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

*****

Embracing the Future: The Latest Legal AI Release Signifies a Groundbreaking Shift 

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been making headlines over the past few months, and for good reason: we’re on the cusp of a technological revolution that has the potential to fundamentally change the world as we know it. The recent emergence of highly functional generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Bing Chat, and Google Bard is further evidence of this trend. With these news tools readily available and accessible, AI has ushered in a new and exciting era of innovation and efficiency.

The utility of this technology is clear from the rapid adoption of this technology, which has occurred at a rate never before seen. In just two months, ChatGPT reached 100 million users, whereas it took 4 years for the iPhone to reach that same number of users. AI adoption is occurring at an exponential rate, and as a result, generative AI tools are already a familiar concept to lawyers and the general public alike.

According to a recent report released by LexisNexis, “Generative AI & the Legal Profession 2023 Survey Report,” 86% of legal professionals surveyed shared that they were aware of generative AI compared to only 57% of all other consumers. More than a third of lawyers (36%) and nearly half of law students (44%) have used it either personally or professionally, and 19% of survey respondents reported using it in their work.

For further proof of the relevance and importance of generative AI to the legal industry, look no further than the announcement on May 4th from LexisNexis about the launch of Lexis+ AI, a generative AI platform. Lexis+ AI is built and trained on LexisNexis’ extensive repository of exclusive legal content, enabling it to provide trusted, comprehensive legal results. This technology offers features such as conversational search, insightful summarization, and intelligent legal drafting capabilities.

It promises to be more secure and accurate than consumer generative AI tools. Because it is trained on and draws from LexisNexis’ content databases, the output is more trustworthy and relevant. Inquiries are not used for training purposes and the same level of confidentiality that is maintained for traditional search queries in LexisNexis is likewise maintained for all Lexis+ AI queries, which are protected by state-of-the-art encryption and privacy technology designed to keep sensitive data secure.

Currently, Lexis+ AI has been released on a limited basis as part of its early Commerical Review Program, and product feedback is being obtained from a select group of Am Law 50 law firms, including Am Law 50 firms, such as Baker McKenzie, Reed Smith and Foley & Lardner, LLP. LexisNexis also announced its “AI Insider Program.” Legal professionals can sign up (online: www.lexisnexis.com/ai-insider) for early access to Lexis+ AI, provide input on the user experience, receive sneak previews of updates, and participate in exclusive roundtables and webinars. 

Now that LexisNexis has thrown its hat into the ring, the stage is set for an explosion of AI technologies designed for the unique needs of the legal profession. As we move forward, the influence of generative AI platforms like Lexis+ AI on the legal profession cannot be understated. The rapid adoption of these tools is set to revolutionize legal research, drafting, and analysis, resulting in previously unseen levels of efficiency and effectiveness.     

The future looks bright. Collaboration between industry giants like LexisNexis and the legal community will ensure the generative AI’s relevance, accuracy, and security, ultimately benefiting legal clients and enhancing the practice of law as a whole. By embracing these groundbreaking advancements and adapting to the ever-evolving legal landscape, lawyers and law firms will be better equipped to navigate the challenges ahead. This progressive shift will also contribute to shaping a more innovative and dynamic legal industry that is well-positioned to tackle the demands of a rapidly changing world.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the head of SME and External Education at MyCase  law practice management software, an AffiniPay company. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at [email protected].


Generative AI: A Double-Edged Sword

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

*****

Generative AI: A Double-Edged Sword

If you’ve read any of my recent articles, you know that I have high hopes for generative AI tools like ChatGPT. However, I can't help but brace myself for disappointment. 

Right now, we're in the midst of a fleeting honeymoon phase, during which this cutting-edge technology is seamlessly enhancing our lives, reducing friction, and promising a brighter future. 

And yet I feel a strong sense of foreboding. 

What will happen when this very brief period of harmony ends? Will we find ourselves trapped in a dystopian nightmare where AI, in a dramatic twist of fate, turns on its human creators? Will we face a future where bad actors use AI to create even more political chaos, sowing discord and uncertainty, on a scale never before seen?

Or, will we find ourselves, as cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier anticipates, in the midst of a grossly magnified version of the current online advertising hellscape, where we’re subjected to a non-stop onslaught of digital snake oil? 

In a recent post, Schneier contends that we're at a pivotal crossroads with AI, and if we don't get it right, we're in for a very rough ride. According to Schneier, corporate interests may very soon rain on the generative AI parade and trample on the enormous potential offered by this technology. 

He cautions that there is an imminent risk that corporate greed may overshadow the remarkable potential of generative AI: "Imagine you’re using an AI chatbot to plan a vacation. Did it suggest a particular resort because it knows your preferences, or because the company is getting a kickback from the hotel chain? Later, when you’re using another AI chatbot to learn about a complex economic issue, is the chatbot reflecting your politics or the politics of the company that trained it?"

Schneier warns that if corporate interests remain unchecked, generative AI will follow the same path as the technologies that preceded it. Absent a concerted effort to travel a different road, we can look forward to more of the same, only on a much more intrusive and all-encompassing scale:

"Twenty years ago, Google’s search engine rapidly rose to monopolistic dominance because of its transformative information retrieval capability. Over time, the company’s dependence on revenue from search advertising led them to degrade that capability. Today, many observers look forward to the death of the search paradigm entirely. Amazon has walked the same path, from an honest marketplace to one riddled with lousy products whose vendors have paid to have the company show them to you. We can do better than this. If each of us are going to have an AI assistant helping us with essential activities daily and even advocating on our behalf, we each need to know that it has our interests in mind. Building trustworthy AI will require systemic change."

Like Schneier, I find myself questioning whether we, as a society, have the collective will to rise to this challenge. We’re caught in a complex web of technological advancement, corporate interests, and ethical concerns. Balancing the immense potential of AI with equally significant risks will be challenging, especially given the rapid rate of technological advancement. 

As we continue to develop and rely on these systems, transparency, accountability, and user-centricity must not become casualties of progress. The time is ripe for us to confront these challenges head-on. 

Are we up for the collective challenge of shaping our AI-driven future to be one that we want to live in? Or will we allow ourselves to be swept away by the tide of unchecked technological development, leaving our hopes and dreams in their wake as we cope with the unforeseen consequences?

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the head of SME and External Education at MyCase  law practice management software, an AffiniPay company. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at [email protected].


Generative AI in Law: A New Survey of Lawyer Perspectives and Plans

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

*****

Generative AI in Law: A New Survey of Lawyer Perspectives and Plans

Have you recently heard the term “ChatGPT” or “generative AI” and wondered what they were? Or maybe you’ve read one or two of my recent columns and have a general sense of what this technology is and what it does. 

But are you using it in your day-to-day workflow? If the answer is “no,” according to a recent survey from the Thomson Reuters Institute, you’re not alone.

Last week Thomson Reuters released a report on the survey, ChatGPT and Generative AI within Law Firms. The report covered the findings from the survey and highlighted the views of legal professionals on this new technology, including their understanding of the risks and benefits. The survey was conducted in March 2023, and the survey respondents consisted of 443 legal professionals from midsize and large firms located in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.

According to the Report, the vast majority (91%) of legal professionals are aware of generative AI tools like ChatGPT. Large law firm respondents are the most familiar with the concepts (93%) compared to those from midsize firms (90%).

Not surprisingly, the technology is viewed with skepticism, with approximately 15% of those surveyed reporting that their firms cautioned employees against unapproved generative AI utilization in the workplace. Another 6% mentioned a complete ban. A marginally higher percentage of large law firms (10%) prohibited unauthorized usage compared to midsize law firms, which stood at 4%.

The survey also addressed generative AI adoption levels in law firms, and very few respondents reported that these tools are currently being used in their firms. A mere 3% of those surveyed reported that generative AI is presently employed at their firms. Another one-third of respondents shared that their firms were contemplating its adoption. Notably, 60% of those surveyed indicated that their firms have no immediate intentions to incorporate generative AI into their operations.

Notably, when asked if it could be used for legal work, 82% agreed.

Interestingly, however, the respondents had very different views as to whether generative AI  should be applied to legal work as opposed to non-legal work. They were much more inclined to think it should be used for non-legal work, with nearly three-quarters believing that (72%). But only half (51%) felt that it should be used for legal work. 

Partners had different views than associates as to whether it should be used for legal work, with 59% of partners and managing partners concluding that generative AI should be applied to legal work. In comparison, only 52% of associates and 44% of other attorneys in the firms agreed with that assertion.

In other words, the results seem to indicate that legal professionals tend to be more likely to agree that generative AI should be used to replace or otherwise impact the work performed by those who work for them.

A small minority of respondents are actually using this technology, with 3% of respondents confirming that they currently use generative AI or ChatGPT for law firm operations. An additional 2% said they are actively planning for its use. About one-third of respondents (34%) are still in the consideration phase for generative AI and ChatGPT, and 60% have no current plans to add generative AI to their firm’s IT stack. 

The survey data also showed that only 3% of U.S.-based law firms currently use generative AI or are planning to use it. 64% of respondents from U.S. firms shared that there were no plans to implement generative AI.

Overall, law firm partners seemed to be the most willing to consider adopting the technology into their firms. Forty percent of partners surveyed expressed that they were weighing the decision to utilize the technology, compared to 28% of associates. Notably, over two-thirds (67%) of associates stated they did not intend to employ generative AI, in contrast to 54% of partners or managing partners who shared a similar sentiment.

One reason for the reluctance to immediately utilize generative AI in law firms is risk aversion. According to the report, the majority of respondents, 62%, shared that there were concerns about the risks of using generative AI.

So, while awareness of generative AI tools like ChatGPT is high, implementation and acceptance within law firms remain low. As the legal landscape evolves and generative AI technologies mature, perspectives will change and adoption rates will undoubtedly increase over time, just as they did for email, social media, and cloud computing. 

However, the change will occur much more rapidly than ever before due to the exponential rate of technological advancements in AI on the horizon. At this pivotal moment in time, it’s important to recognize this inevitable shift by embracing innovation and fostering a culture of continuous learning. 

In other words, there’s no better time than now to remain curious about new technologies like ChatGPT. Is your law firm ready for the AI revolution?

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the head of SME and External Education at MyCase  law practice management software, an AffiniPay company. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at [email protected].


The Legal Software Shift: Recent Report Highlights Efficiency and Flexibility Gains

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

*****

The Legal Software Shift: Recent Report Highlights Efficiency and Flexibility Gains

Technology is advancing at a rapid clip, and keeping up isn’t easy, especially when you’ve got a busy caseload to manage. When faced with looming court deadlines, constant client phone calls, and an overflowing inbox, the prospect of incorporating new technologies into your daily workflow can sometimes seem daunting.

Fortunately, new technologies are increasingly user-friendly and it’s easier than ever to implement new software tools into your law firm. The results of a recently released legal industry report confirm this premise and show that legal professionals are embracing new technologies and reaping the benefits.

According to data from the MyCase and LawPay 2022 Legal Industry Report, lawyers are taking advantage of cloud computing tools at rates never before seen. The survey data indicated that 80% of the legal professionals reported that their firms now use cloud-based legal software, and 47% invested in cloud-based remote working tools within the past year. The top remote working tools invested in by law firms were: video conferencing (73%), e-signature (60%), communication software (42%), billing software (34%), and law practice management software (32%).

Another way that lawyers are using technology is to increase payment flexibility for their clients thus ensuring prompt payment of legal bills. Data from the Report indicated that 80% of law firms now accept online payments via credit card or e-check, and 75% rely on legal-specific payment processing tools to collect payments. Notably, 61% of the legal professionals surveyed reported that their firms collected more money as a result of using online payment processing software, and the collection rates for firms that accepted online payments were nearly 10% higher than those that didn’t.

Similarly, the data showed that the turnaround time for receiving payment was reduced when online payments were accepted. For starters, according to the data, firms that accepted online payments received invoice payments 32% faster than those that didn’t users. 

The same was true for consultation fees, with 26% of firms using online payments reporting that the turnaround time was reduced by 2-5 days, and 13% shared that it was reduced by more than five days. Firms that accepted online payment for consultation fees also collected additional money over the period of one year than those that didn’t to the tune of $12 million more.

The data also showed that law firms are increasingly offering clients multiple ways to pay legal fees, with 49% of respondents sharing that their firms offer or would consider offering their clients the ability to pay legal fees using legal fee loans. Another 65% provide clients with the option to set up payment plans for legal fees. 

Finally, the Report included data on how much customization legal professionals seek in their firm’s primary operating software, such as law practice management or project management software. The top features that the respondents sought to have included in their primary operating software were time tracking and billing (65%), calendar management (59%), document management (54%), online payment processing (47%), email management (38%), e-signature (31%), and task management (29%).

In comparison, the top tools that law firms chose to integrate with their primary operating software included: email (45%), document storage (43%), accounting (29%), and document automation (23%). 

Finally, data from the Report showed that the top functions that firms outsourced rather than handling within the firm were: website maintenance (53%), website development 52%), email marketing (35%), and accounting (33%).

No matter how you look at it, one thing is clear: the legal industry is in the midst of a transformative shift that is revolutionizing the way legal professionals work and deliver legal services. This Report highlights not only the increased efficiency and flexibility that technology offers legal professionals but also the broader implications of this impactful transition. 

Legal professionals navigating the technology landscape must adapt to these emerging trends or risk falling behind. In other words, for lawyers seeking to maintain a competitive edge, embracing the potential of legal technology is no longer optional; it’s a necessity.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the head of SME and External Education at MyCase  law practice management software, an AffiniPay company. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at [email protected].


AI at Your Fingertips: The Best ChatGPT Add-ons and Extensions for Lawyers

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

*****

AI at Your Fingertips: The Best ChatGPT Add-ons and Extensions for Lawyers

The technology landscape is evolving rapidly, and turning a blind eye is no longer an option for lawyers seeking to stay competitive. AI-based technologies are on the cusp of revolutionary change, as evidenced by the release of GPT-4 in mid-March. This groundbreaking advancement in AI technology is significant because it enables unparalleled natural language understanding, generation, and context awareness.

In previous articles, I explained the significance of generative AI chatbots like ChatGPT and Bing chat, which are advanced AI language models designed to streamline communication, research, and information processing. The rapid advancements in these AI technologies have significantly enhanced the potential for innovative applications in the legal industry and offer boundless possibilities for lawyers seeking to increase efficiency and improve decision-making.

The release of GPT-4 is just the beginning. As this technology is incorporated into Microsoft Office, Google Workspace, and legal-specific applications, the impact of generative AI will increase exponentially. 

In the meantime, there are browser extensions and other types of add-ons that make it easier than ever to incorporate ChatGPT capabilities into your daily workflows. 

Currently, the two most popular AI chatbots are ChatGPT and Bing Chat. ChatGPT is available as a standalone chatbot, and a free version is available. After test-driving it, you may want to sign up for ChatGPT Plus, which costs $20/month and offers consistent uptime and prioritized access to new features, including access to GPT4. To access Bing’s chatbot, you’ll need to sign up for the waiting list, and once you’re granted access, it is available here.

Below you’ll find the ChatGPT add-ons and browser extensions that I’ve found to be the most beneficial thus far. Many others are available, so no matter your needs, you’re sure to find an add-on that meets them in your browser’s app store.

  • Bing Chat for All Browsers: In theory, Bing chat can only be accessed using Microsoft’s Edge browser. This browser extension provides access via a link in your toolbar. You can also access it by creating a bookmark to the link provided above.
  • ChatGPT for Gmail: This browser extension adds ChatGPT to Gmail, so that when you open an email, it will scan the email and if you activate it, draft a suggested reply email. 
  • ChatGPT Prompt Genius: With this extension, you’ll have access to ChatGPT prompts created by other users. This saves time and allows you to take advantage of curated requests designed to elicit specific responses, such as language translation or document editing.
  • WebchatGPT: Currently, ChatGPT isn’t connected to the web, and its database is limited to data up to 2021 only. Webchat GPT is a handy addon that allows you to augment ChatGPT results with real-time web results directly in the ChatGPT interface. You can toggle the web results on or off, giving you more flexibility when researching an issue or seeking information.
  • Voice control for ChatGPT: This extension allows you to have verbal conversations with ChatGPT. Simply toggle the microphone on and speak your requests. ChatGPT will then respond by reading aloud the output, but you have the option of silencing the response.

Embracing technology and adapting to change is essential for staying competitive and delivering the best results for your clients. If you’re ready to dive into the potential that ChatGPT offers, these add-ons and browser extensions are great ways to streamline your workflow. By incorporating these innovative tools into your daily routine, you can effectively harness the power of generative AI technology to the benefit of your practice and your clients

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the head of SME and External Education at MyCase  law practice management software, an AffiniPay company. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at [email protected].


10 Ways Lawyers Can Unlock the Potential of ChatGPT

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

*****

10 Ways Lawyers Can Unlock the Potential of ChatGPT

You’ve probably seen many recent headlines about ChatGPT, an AI-powered chatbot that generates human-like responses to questions. In my last article, I explained what it is and why it matters to lawyers. In this article, I’ll explore ten ways legal professionals can use ChatGPT in their daily workflow, including for legal research, writing, client service, and more.

For the use cases listed below, you can query either ChatGPT or, if you have access to it, Bing’s new ChatGPT tool . While both chatbots provide helpful answers, Bing’s database is more current. Bing’s results also include citations that allow you to view the website from which the information was obtained.

When using ChatGPT, it’s essential that you already have a sufficient knowledge base regarding the topics you’re enquiring about. With AI chatbots, the goal is to save time and hone in on key issues. These tools cannot replace lawyers or legal expertise; it’s up to you to analyze the responses and revise them accordingly so that they are ultimately accurate and meet your needs.

Remember that no matter the query, you’ll obtain the best results by ensuring that your question is as detailed as possible. Provide sufficient context regarding your role in the scenario, any necessary jurisdictional information, and the desired end product. Then carefully review the output and cross-check it with reliable sources if needed. 

Since the ethical issues presented by this technology haven’t been fully vetted at this early stage, it’s advisable to keep client confidentiality in mind and craft queries that don’t disclose any identifiable client information that may be confidential.

That said, let’s dive in and explore ways that legal professionals can use ChatGPT technology. Below I list ten ways to use ChatGPT as part of your preliminary workflow process across a variety of situations, including legal research, document drafting, trial preparation, law firm management, and more. I tested each concept before including it in this article and found the output provided to be helpful and a great starting point.

    1. Summarize a legal concept: You can replace a legal dictionary by requesting that “res ipsa loquitor” or “sui generis” be defined and explained. You can ask for a general definition or limit it to your jurisdiction’s interpretation. You’ll find that the response will be a great starting point for your research.
    2. Summarize a case: Provide a case citation and request a summary. The response will consist of a short description of the facts, the issues presented, the court’s ruling, and possibly the significance of the decision.
    3. Summarize transcripts: Enter text from a transcript and request a summary. There is a limit to the number of characters you can enter in a single query, so you may have to enter a few pages at a time. 
    4. Draft sample agreements like NDAs: ChatGPT will often provide a draft that is a good starting point from which you can craft a robust document.
    5. Create questions for direct or cross-examination: Specify the issues unique to your case and use the resulting questions as food for thought when crafting your direct or cross-examination of a witness.
    6. Voir dire: Your query should identify the type of case and an issue you’d like to explore and then craft your voir dire using the resulting output.
    7. Draft client intake forms: Request that forms be created for specific types of cases, and modify the results to suit your needs.
    8. Draft a retainer agreement: Identify key clauses and concepts you’d like included and update the document provided to include information specific to your firm and the client’s case.
    9. Letters to clients: Draft opening and closing letters for different cases and then create templates that can be easily replicated across matters.
    10. Letters to opposing counsel: Among others, you can request demand or cease and desist letters. The chatbot will provide a working draft that can serve as the basis for a more detailed request specific to your case.

As you can see, ChatGPT has the potential to streamline and improve the quality of your work. Certainly, it doesn’t replace your professional expertise and judgment. Instead, it provides a complementary tool that helps you work more efficiently and effectively. 

Generative AI tools like ChatGPT are the future, and I fully expect that they’ll rapidly become part of the daily workflow of lawyers. You’ll soon find that even if you’re not using this technology, there’s a good chance that your opponents will.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the head of SME and External Education at MyCase  law practice management software, an AffiniPay company. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at [email protected].


Chat GPT 101 for Lawyers: The Upsides — and Downsides

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

*****

Chat GPT 101 for Lawyers: The Upsides — and Downsides

There’s a new technology making waves that should be on your radar if it isn’t already: ChatGPT. The reason you should familiarize yourself with it is because all signs indicate that this cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) technology and other tools like it will have a significant impact on the practice of law.

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence language model that generates human-like responses to natural language queries. The reason ChatGPT has made such a splash is because it can understand and respond to a wide range of questions, and then provide near-instantaneous responses, which include generating documents. For example, I asked it to draft a demand letter, an NDA, and an employment agreement, and the documents it created were very workable rough drafts.

It’s available as a standalone chatbot, and there’s a free version available. After test-driving it, you may want to sign up for ChatGPT Plus, which costs $20/month and offers consistent uptime and prioritized access to new features. And, as I discuss below, ChatGPT is already being incorporated into legal technology products, so you’re likely to encounter it one way or another sometime soon.

The reason everyone is talking about ChatGPT is because it holds incredible potential. Its output is fast and often impressive, and when ChatGPT works well, it’s mind-boggling. 

However, its drawbacks are significant. It often makes up facts and then serves them up in a way that sounds completely believable. In one case, I asked it to draft a LinkedIn post about an article in which I was quoted, and it created a quote out of thin air. In another, the response provided seemed on point at first glance but referenced a non-existent California legal ethics provision.

So while the current version undoubtedly provides value to lawyers, it’s important to have working knowledge of the issues being queried along with the ability to weed out false information. That being said, in the very near future the accuracy of its output will undoubtedly increase exponentially as new versions are released. 

Notably, it’s already making its mark in the legal industry. A number of legal technology companies have begun to incorporate ChatGPT into their platforms, including Ironclad (“AI Assist” generates redlined versions of contracts and more), DocketAlarm (its ChatGPT integration provides three-bullet-point summary of docket documents), and Lexion (offers a ChatGPT Word plugin that assists with contract drafting).

The bottom line: ChatGPT isn’t yet ready for prime time, but it’s a great way to begin your work. ChatGPT and tools like it are the future, although they are admittedly a work in progress. Even so, as part of your duty of technology competence, you should learn about them so that you can make an educated decision as to whether and how to use them in your law practice. Because like it or not, the majority of lawyers will be using ChatGPT on a daily basis, sooner rather than later. 

But don’t my word on it; let’s see what ChatGPT has to say about its impact on the legal profession. When I asked ChatGPT how it will impact the practice of law, this is what it had to say: “ChatGPT will impact law practices in the very near future by offering AI-powered legal research assistance, document drafting, and contract analysis tools that can save lawyers significant amounts of time and effort. ChatGPT can also help lawyers improve their legal writing skills by providing suggestions for clearer and more concise language. As AI technology continues to improve, ChatGPT will become an increasingly valuable tool for lawyers looking to streamline their workflows and improve the quality of their work.”

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the head of SME and External Education at MyCase  law practice management software, an AffiniPay company. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at [email protected].