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Integrating Generative AI into a Lawyer’s Workflow

February 16, 2024 (2 min read)
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By Geoffrey D. Ivnik, Esq. | Director of Large Markets, LexisNexis

Legal AI — Gen AI tools trained for the legal profession — is transforming the practice of law right now, enabling lawyers at firms who are adopting these tools to draft legal documents faster than ever, according to panelists at one of the featured sessions during a recent Wall Street Journal event for law firm managing partners that was sponsored by LexisNexis.

“Generative AI creates efficiencies, it allows for automation, it essentially allows us to do what we as lawyers want to do more than anything else, which is really excel at the expert judgment layer and application of how we work,” said Ilona Logvinova, managing counsel and head of innovation for McKinsey Legal. “The question is, where can you inject automation into your workflow as lawyers?”

New survey data illustrates that law firm leaders are already moving down this road by leveraging Gen AI for improved legal drafting support.

The LexisNexis 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. Our survey found that 39% of law firm leaders named “drafting documents” as one of the ways their firms plan to use AI technology, the third most popular use case cited.

The panelists at the Wall Street Journal event noted that Legal AI delivers tremendous new efficiencies in legal drafting but does not substitute technology in the place of humans. Rather, it serves as a drafting assistant and merely modifies the lawyer’s role from being a “drafter” to being an “editor” of form-driven legal documents by providing them with a much better starting point.

For example, a Legal AI tool can instantly produce rough drafts of legal memos, cease and desist letters, contract clauses and client communications — all from a simple initial user prompt — that are grounded in authoritative legal content. In essence, the Gen AI technology helps to reduce the manual work involved in creating these documents and then allows the lawyer to apply their reasoning and legal judgment to refine the final product.

“Clients hire an attorney for the attorney’s knowledge, experience, and ability to interpret and apply legal precedent,” said Joel Murray, an attorney with McKean Smith in Portland, Oregon. “If properly developed, AI can be another means by which attorneys can increase their productivity and obtain optimal results for clients.”

A growing number of law firms are making investments now in Gen AI tools built specifically for the legal profession. Our 2024 Investing in Legal Innovation Survey: The Rise of Gen AI at Top Firms & Corporations found that 53% of Am Law 200 firms have already purchased Legal AI tools and that 45% of Am Law 200 firms are using Gen AI now for legal matters.

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, Navigating Opportunities: Finding Benefits in AI Growth, for more insights from industry leaders.