AI has ‘changed the game’ for in-house legal
As the use of artificial intelligence (AI) within organisations of all stripes becomes more common, it must now be both embraced and implemented in order to meet client expectations and streamline legal operations.
This is something that Youi Insurance head of legal Bianca Lau discussed at the recent Legal Innovation and Tech Fest in Sydney with her keynote: “What fast food taught me about implementing legal tech: An in-house journey”.
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This year, the impact of AI on the practice of law became apparent. A key takeaway from the conference was that AI tech, such as ChatGPT and similar platforms, is going to continue to reshape legal work, roles, and capabilities.
ChatGPT has made global headlines over the last few months, confirming that AI platforms are changing the day-to-day operations of legal practice — at least to some extent. You can read Lawyers Weekly’s full coverage of ChatGPT and other AI platforms and what lawyers need to know here.
Following the Legal Innovation and Tech Fest, Ms Lau spoke to Lawyers Weekly about how AI has changed in-house legal practice and how this has impacted her work, as well as the work of other in-house teams.
“AI has really changed the game for legal practice — we need to rethink how we deliver legal services and move away from the traditional lawyer mindset. When used well, AI is allowing lawyers to work smarter, faster and more efficiently.
“The pace of change and development in this area will only get faster, and I believe the future of legal services will look very different in a few years’ time — lawyers who embrace new technology will be well placed in years to come,” she said.
This plays into in-house teams needing to add value to their organisations — something which Ms Lau has previously spoken to Lawyers Weekly about. In addition, implementing AI can help drive efficiencies, regardless of the size of the legal department.
“For in-house teams, most of us are needing to find ways to do more with less. This is where AI creates immense opportunities for us — I also think it will allow lawyers to spend more time on work that is more strategic and complex and remove some of the mundane tasks that don’t get us out of bed in the morning,” Ms Lau added.
“I think regardless of the size of your team, you should be looking at what is available to help streamline your legal operations. If you want to keep across what your peers are doing — the legal technology and innovation group (part of the ACC) is a fabulous starting point. Tech-enabled legal teams will benefit in the long run with greater efficiencies, better accuracy and consistency in output and, of course, happy lawyers who can focus on more purposeful work.”
However, in terms of whether AI is being pushed onto legal departments, Ms Lau said it wholly depends on the organisation and the legal team.
“For us, we see unpacking the potential of AI to be a necessity to keep up with increasing demand on legal services, as well as future-proofing the team. It allows us to work smarter rather than harder,” she explained.
“We are passionate about innovation at Youi, and the legal team is no exception. The productivity gains and valuable data we’ve sourced using AI and various innovative initiatives has really turbo-charged our legal team — we’ve been able to scale the reach of the legal team to keep pace with Youi’s rapid growth trajectory without increasing headcount. It also means our lawyers can focus on high-value strategic work, which also keeps them happy.”
And moving forward, Ms Lau added that even if their organisations aren’t pushing them to, in-house legal teams should absolutely be experimenting with AI.
“If you haven’t played around with some of the large language models like ChatGPT, make the time to start tinkering around with it now,” she said.
“It’s amazing for some tasks, other tasks less so (at least for now), but it’s a worthwhile investment of your time; it will help set you up for the future, and who knows, you might find some efficiency wins.”