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Cyber Security Experts Talk About AI Security

March 22, 2024 (3 min read)

By Geoffrey D. Ivnik, Esq. | Director of Large Markets, LexisNexis 

The fast adoption of generative artificial intelligence (Gen AI) technology illustrates its tremendous potential in the marketplace, but it’s important to be clear-eyed about the data security considerations as well.

“As with any emerging technology, rapid implementation (of Gen AI) could be risky, opening the door to threat actors to exploit organizations’ vulnerabilities,” reported TechTarget. “In today’s complex IT threat landscape, using generative AI tools without careful consideration could result in catastrophic consequences for enterprises.”

Legal technology experts warn that law firm leaders need to be laser-focused right now on acquiring the right technology that will support their firms’ adoption of Gen AI and then taking all necessary steps to protect their IT environment from the ever-present cybersecurity and data privacy risks.

“There is a pressing need for you to think about what is the AI technology that I’m going to invest in,” said Anita Barksdale, advisory managing director in the KPMG Cyber Security practice, in comments during a recent Wall Street Journal event for law firm managing partners. “I think you should do whatever it takes to secure your environment.”

For example, all law firms need to be pro-active about protecting their lawyers’ intellectual property and their clients’ confidential information when implementing any sort of Gen AI solution.

“It’s going to cost in terms of security because you’re outsourcing your risk,” said Barksdale. “The question for you is, what is your risk profile?”

The largest law firms appear to be ahead of the curve on some of these issues and have already moved to establish policies on how their firms will use Gen AI on client matters.

Our 2024 Investing in Legal Innovation Survey: The Rise of Gen AI at Top Firms & Corporations surveyed managing partners and other senior leaders at large law firms — as well as executives in corporate legal departments at Fortune 1000 companies — to better understand the business impact of Gen AI technology on the legal industry. The survey found that Am Law 200 firms are leading the way in developing and communicating policies regarding the use of Gen AI, with more than 8 in 10 (82%) of Am Law 200 firms reporting they already have such policies in place, compared to 53% of other large law firms and only 24% of Fortune 1000 companies.

For law firms operating globally, implementing Gen AI also poses regulatory challenges as legal frameworks vary across jurisdictions.

“The rapid advancement of Gen AI has regulators around the world racing to understand, control and guarantee the safety of the technology — all while preserving its potential benefits,” according to a McKinsey & Company report. “Across industries, Gen AI adoption has presented a new challenge for risk and compliance functions: how to balance the use of this new technology amid an evolving — and uneven — regulatory framework.”

Barksdale emphasized the importance of having the right technology infrastructure or partnering with a legal technology company that has the proper infrastructure to navigate these regulatory complexities. She encouraged law firm leaders to make sure they examine all regulations in various jurisdictions and use that information to inform their business decisions when implementing Gen AI technologies.

Summarizing the challenge for law firm leaders and highlighting the importance of making investments today to avoid risk management problems in the future, Barksdale said, “Do we want to be obsolete five years from now or do we want to be on the path with the right mixture of technology, internal and external, to make sure that we have a secure posture?”

This article was based on one of the panel discussions at the Wall Street Journal event, “What Every Managing Partner & C-Suite Leader Needs to Know About Legal AI,” which took place on January 31st in New York City. Watch the entire session, Legal Leaders and Early Adopters, for more insights from industry leaders.