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Implementing GenAI when ‘every business is a digital business’

The “phenomenal” rate of innovation means that for in-house teams, the ways that generative AI can be used within their workflows will only continue to grow and evolve moving forward.

user iconLauren Croft 25 June 2024 Corporate Counsel
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Greg Dickason is the managing director at LexisNexis Asia and Pacific. Speaking recently on The Corporate Counsel Show, he delved into the use of generative AI (GenAI) by law departments and their team leaders, as well as how these teams can effectively implement a GenAI solution into their workflows.

Sixty per cent of in-house lawyers are already using AI in some way to create work product – and in terms of the main use cases of GenAI for corporate counsel, Dickason said there are four key uses within a legal context.

“The first one is search, which really is understanding. It’s conversational search, it’s understanding the law, understanding how the law applies to your particular matter. I think that is really important because often, especially in corporate counsel, you get so many different types of questions that come in from the business, whether it’s lease contracts, leasing agreements, employment, staff, M&A. You’re getting lots of things from different practice areas. So how do you understand that particular part of the law? This is where conversational search can help,” he said.


“Of course, once you’ve searched for something, often you’ll then get case law, and you want to summarise that. I’ve got four or five cases [that] really matter, but as you know, in Australia, case judgments can be very long. Let me understand it in five minutes rather than having to spend two [to] three hours understanding it. So that’s the second one. The third one then is drafting. It could be an email to my managing director or the start of a draft for something I’m going to send to counsel on the other side in a transaction, for example.

“The final thing we’re seeing is the ability to upload and compare documents. So, let’s say you’re now in the middle of a process, you understand the law, and now you have an old contract you want to look at, that you’re going to update, or maybe your terms and conditions you’ve got to update. You could upload those and compare them to something else or ask questions about them. And that just helps you with understanding the documents you already have, summarising them and understanding where the shortcomings are from those documents.”

The potential use cases for GenAI are also only set to grow, with more and more set to keep coming out, added Dickason.

“With generative AI, the rate of innovation is just phenomenal. I’ve been in the tech product world for 25 [to] 30 years, and I’ve never seen the movement like we’ve seen now. Every week there are new things coming out. You may be aware that there are now generative videos that have come out,” he said.

“There are so many different ways in which generative AI is being applied to the world; whether it’s for language, whether it’s for images, whether it’s for video, we can see that coming through very quickly. Even things like being able to analyse a video and pull out evidence, that’s something I could see. I’d say these use cases are just the beginning.”

For law department leaders considering implementing GenAI solutions, there are a number of key headline issues they should be across – and Dickason emphasised the importance of the technology being “grounded in legal data”.

“Is it legally trained? Is it legally grounded? If you go and use a generic tool off the shelf, like OpenAI ChatGPT or GPT-4, or even something like Copilot, you will get a good initial solution. But it’s not grounded in law. So, I think that’s very important, because being grounded in law and understanding legal terms, but also being able to reference back to legislation, case law and secondary content, like practical guidance, I think that really helps you understand the whole framework of the answer.

“Is it grounded in legal data, and then is it referenceable inside the answers? Can I see my links through to citations? Can I see the case that backs it up? So, if I do want to, I can go and check all of its sources. Just like you would ask for a junior counsellor, a junior counsellor in your team, if you go and ask them to do something, you don’t want them only to come back with the answer. You want to come back with the references and tell you how they got there,” he said.

In-house counsel also need to understand where their data is going when looking at a GenAI solution, said Dickason.

“Generative AI is so much more about you giving it information that it then works with, and as a result, you need to make sure that the information you give it, which could be confidential, needs to be well managed. Is it stored appropriately? Is it purged as necessary? So, I think that’s really important to understand from your vendor what is happening there,” he said.

“And then the final thing I think that’s important is also just the overall performance. How well does the system perform? Generative AI can be quite slow, and so you probably want something that can perform, not only give you great output but [also] actually perform pretty well. And increasingly, as every business is a digital business, and so we’ve got to be very, very careful that we have cyber security, data privacy, or privacy and data security. All of those need to be very, very top of mind for everybody in our business.”

For law departments and general counsel to make their case to implement a new tech solution, Dickason recommended trialling different tools and weighing up how they could impact various workloads and add value to an organisation.

“This tool is going to do a lot of the work that a junior associate would do for you. So have a look at it, trial it out, and really work out how much more productive you’re going to be as a result of the user, the tool. And that, therefore, gives you a little bit of your return on investment, why you should invest in it, because the tool is less expensive than a full junior associate.

“Now, I’m not saying you want to replace a junior associate, because I think there’s another side to this, and that is the value add, which is going back to the business and saying, what is it that you want from the legal department? Do you want us just to be order takers and to do what you ask us to do? Or do you want us to be value adding where we are inside the business, and we’re understanding emerging regulations, emerging case law that could impact our business, seeing what’s happening around the world and being able to guide our business proactively rather than reactively,” he said.

“And I think that’s what these tools are going to do; they’re going to help in-house counsel to start to think and be that strategic partner because they’re freeing up time, but they’re also able to answer open questions about the law and what’s happening with the law. And that’s really where I think you’re going to get much more value-add, not just be more productive but [also] actually change the relationship between the legal department and the rest of the business.”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Greg Dickason, click below: