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Enough About The Future Of AI… What Can Legal Do (Responsibly) With It Right NOW?

It’s all fun and games to imagine a robust legal research AI that won’t land you in front of a disciplinary panel or a document summary tool that can replace the first-year associate drafting that memo or even perform the focused and not at all political work of calling “balls and strikes” like a Supreme Court justice. But wherever the technology is headed, it’s not really there yet.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for lawyers to take advantage of the technology that exists already. Unfortunately most of the oxygen on this subject is sucked up by starry eyed futurists and vendors piling on promises leaving little room to talk about what we’ve got now.

The ILTA Evolve show, “AI Unveiled: Insights into how AI is transforming in Legal,” with Scott Kveton, CEO of casemark.ai and Patrick Arkins, Manager of Business Technology Solutions and Innovation at Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP offered a conversation grounded in today’s potential. And frankly you don’t really recognize how undercovered that subject is until you have the jarring experience of hearing about it for an hour.

Kveton set the stage for these early days of generative AI by drawing a direct parallel to the iPhone. At this point, no one questions the impact that smartphones have upon the world. In fact, very few doubted that the tech would prove revolutionary at launch. And yet, what were the top downloaded applications in the early days of the iPhone?

One-click, push-button fart apps.

So, so many fart apps. Generative AI mostly resides in the realm of novelty at this point. But while most users shopped for sound effects, Starbucks jumped into developing a revenue stream based on pocket computing worth hundreds of millions. Only somewhat shadily!

Breaking down the AI hype into level 1 and level 2 tasks provides firms an opportunity to set responsible expectations. Generating insights from searchable data, automating intake, building out training materials are all on the table now. Image analysis in insurance matters is already a powerful use case. Predictive analysis and document drafting… potential applications where generative AI tools aren’t really ready to efficiently and responsibly supplant the status quo yet.

Knowing the landscape of the possible, attorneys can build their skills to stay ahead of the wave by jumping in now. No matter what the future holds, understanding how to prompt a bot will be the key.

Did you know that you could do this?

Screenshot 2024-05-02 at 3.41.25 PM

You’re not prepping your SCOTUS oral argument this way. Or, based on what we saw last week, maybe some of you are. But preparing for a client pitch by cramming the basics about the Boxite industry or something? This is pretty useful.

I suspect most users working with a generative AI at this point ask one- or two-sentence queries at most. If that’s all you’re doing, you’re going to get disillusioned quickly and never properly flex the prompt muscle.

What about this?

Screenshot 2024-05-02 at 3.41.07 PM

Instructing the tool to provide an answer at a college-educated or seasoned professional level might be useful in most instances. But don’t overlook “explain it to me like I’m stoned,” which can be quite helpful too.

Without getting into all the slides — this is why you should attend these events — I do think it’s worth flagging some of the suggested sites for anyone out there learning how to use these tools:

Screenshot 2024-05-02 at 4.14.16 PM

Happy prompting.


HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.


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