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How to Use AI to Manage the Attorney-Client Relationship

March 18, 2024 (4 min read)


This article provides guidance for the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into law firm management and performance. With AI, clients will be able to monitor and evaluate their counsel’s activities in new and much more advanced ways. Accordingly, it will be even more important for the client’s expectations to be well-defined, and for attorneys to utilize AI to make sure that they are meeting client expectations.

Law Firms Have Been Slow to Embrace AI

AI is quickly being integrated into clients’ operations. Industries, from financial to health to automotive, have been taking advantage of AI. Among the positive contributions of AI are the reduction of the risk of human error, the ability to identify patterns in a wide variety of tasks, and the ability to make better predictions.

Law firms, though, have been slow to embrace AI for many good reasons, including the need to protect client confidences and concerns with the reliability of the information provided by certain open research applications. There is considerable skepticism that
a machine can think like a lawyer and apply the judgment of a seasoned attorney. In addition, for good reason, attorneys are also concerned with cybersecurity and violations of privacy.

Overcome the Fear of AI

There are many sound and cost-efficient AI applications that clients will expect to be included in the counsel’s repertoire. Indeed, clients may well be much further advanced in the use of AI applications and may penalize or even terminate outside counsel who are not playing in the same technological ballpark.

This is not a new development. Among many other innovations, during the past four decades the profession has had to move from hard-copy letters to emails, and from teams of lawyers conducting document reviews to the use of computerized reviews. E-discovery has developed into a huge business, and every lawyer has had to learn the ins and outs of dealing with data dumps. An outside counsel would be quickly terminated if it billed a client for 30 attorneys sitting in a room doing an initial review of these documents.

The AI applications that outside litigation counsel may be expected to have incorporated include:

  • Early case evaluation. AI can review massive amounts of data and dockets and potentially predict the ultimate outcome of litigations. Lawyers can justify their settlement recommendations with hard analyses that sit on much sounder footing than a gut feeling about where the case is headed.
  • Budgeting. AI can assist law firms in providing the client with advance guidance on the costs of stages of litigation based upon prior experience. A review of past performance can remove much of the guess work in predicting the potential expenses the client will incur.
  • Document review. AI is taking electronic discovery to new levels with such tools as predictive coding, which involves machine learning so that relevant documents can be identified with a system that can be validated for the court. Ultimately, the system will hopefully be much quicker and accurate than a human review.
  • Legal research and drafting. The major legal research companies have been incorporating AI into their systems. They have moved beyond headnotes and are responding to queries with paragraphs that can be directly incorporated into research memos and legal briefs.

For practical guidance on AI adoption pre-screening, AI driving compliance analysis with terms of engagement, clients' use of AI to monitor compliance with terms of engagement, follow this link to read the complete article.

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AI Will Be a Necessity, and Not a Mere Luxury, for Law Firms

AI will remake legal practice. A great deal of the focus has been on the use of AI to perform advanced writing and research. Law firms will need to employ AI in those tasks in order to remain competitive in cost and their research capabilities.

Lawyers must also be prepared to adopt AI tools for much more than drafting and review of legal documents. AI must be integrated into the entire structure of the legal practice management. There has been a considerable amount of discussion that AI may replace lawyers. The better view is that while AI cannot replace the human element in the practice of law, if lawyers fail to embrace AI wholeheartedly, they may be replaced by competitors who can satisfy the rapidly increasing demands from clients that their outside firms take advantage of the power and efficiencies offered by AI. 

Ronald J. Levine is an accomplished litigator with 35 years of experience advising consumer products companies in complex commercial litigation, with a focus on class actions and other multi-party litigation. He serves as counsel at Herrick, Feinstein LLP.

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RESEARCH PATH: Civil Litigation > General Litigation > Practice Notes

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