Distraction versus transformation… what is the middle ground for AI in legal?

Over the past few weeks, there hasn’t been a single day where the legal news headlines haven’t been smothered in AI related stories. It is everywhere! And probably rightfully so!

It’s pretty clear that AI will change the way legal professionals work (in fact the way every business works), making it essential for us to understand its capabilities and practical applications. So the news stories and resources been made available are necessary as we move to better comprehend the impact in our sector.

However, among the enthusiasm, I can’t help but question whether the sudden excitement and noise is a mere distraction or a genuine transformation moment for the legal sector. A sector that, if we’re honest, is traditionally slow in adopting change, especially technology-related change!

There is no doubt that AI has the power (or will have the power) to streamline legal processes, improve efficiency, and enhance decision-making. Legal research will be expedited, contract analysis will be automated, and administrative tasks may even be delegated to AI-powered virtual assistants. These advancements will undoubtedly free up valuable time and resources for legal practitioners, offering efficiency and profitability gains.

Yet, the legal industry has traditionally been hesitant to embrace technological change, especially at speed. Many firms are still grappling with mastering the basics of digitalization and handling the ever-increasing demands of their clients (as seen in our latest market research). All of this links back to my initial thoughts - will the integration of AI be a distraction, diverting resources and attention from addressing immediate challenges?

When considering this, alongside BigHand’s customer base and our own product AI plans (spoiler alert…announcement coming in the next few days), perhaps the key lies in striking the right balance. Instead of viewing AI as a separate entity, should the next step be for firms to explore how AI can be incorporated into their existing processes through their current technology partners/solutions? Understanding how AI complements and enhances their current practices can serve as a starting point for a smoother and more effective integration.

In my (non tech-minded opinion) AI, like all technology, should be seen as an enabler rather than a disruptor. By leveraging AI within familiar frameworks, legal professionals can gradually adapt to its capabilities, allowing it to strengthen their expertise rather than replace it entirely. Partnering with tech companies that offer AI-enabled solutions can help firms navigate this journey with confidence and expertise and at a pace that is more aligned (but hopefully faster) with the legal sector.

PS. Keep an eye on BigHand’s LinkedIn page for our own AI announcement!