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‘Get across’ emerging tech in 2024

Law firms and lawyers have been advised to “buckle up” heading into 2024, as new AI tech is on the horizon.

user iconLauren Croft 28 December 2023 NewLaw
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Terri Mottershead is the executive director for the Centre of Legal Innovation at the College of Law, and Caryn Sandler is a partner and the chief knowledge and innovation officer at Gilbert and Tobin, the co-chair of the Centre for Legal Innovation Advisory Board and a multiple-award winner at Lawyers Weekly Awards.

Speaking on an episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, produced in partnership with the College of Law, the pair discussed the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into daily legal practice and what firms need to be doing heading into 2024.

This conversation came off the back of ChatGPT making global headlines throughout 2023, prompting waves of change within a number of industries, including the legal profession. You can read Lawyers Weekly’s full coverage of ChatGPT and other AI platforms and what lawyers need to know here.


AI, according to Ms Sandler, has been around for “some time” within the legal profession, including in areas such as e-discovery, reviewing large data sets, due diligence and contract reviews.

“With the advancements we’ve seen over the last year and really quite new technology, in that it has the capability to generate content and really plays to the space of knowledge delivery as lawyers do. I certainly do not believe that, at this point in time, we could treat that as a fad or a fleeting trend. I think we are certainly seeing generative AI probably in its infancy, and I think if we see the strides that have been made over the last year, even with advancements from 3.5 GPT, 3.5 to 4, again, the capability has just been so significant in terms of the difference of those two models,” she said.

“I mean, if we think about GPT taking the Bar exam under 3.5, it scored in the bottom 10 percentile, and then a mere sort of three to six months later, it scored in the top 10 percentile. So again, I think it is showing great promise in terms of where we are as a legal industry. I think this last year has really been about getting to have a greater understanding of the technology. We all know it comes with its own vocabulary.

“People have had to get across what this technology is, what its potential capability is. I don’t think we’ve necessarily seen the broad use cases yet, and that’s through a lot of complexity around how we treat data, how we maintain our confidentiality thinking about areas like IP and copyright. And I think as we move into 2024, we will start seeing those use cases emerge at large.”

Based on observations she’s had with practitioners day-to-day, however, Ms Mottershead said that many lawyers are completely “overwhelmed” with all the information on emerging tech in the market right now.

“I can’t keep up to date with it. It’s my full-time job, so I can only imagine what it must be like if you’ve got a whole bunch of other things that you’re trying to do as well. And from the folks that we’re chatting with as well, there are folks that have still yet to jump in. And that may seem amazing, but there really is at the other end. But I think it’s inevitable that we have to embrace this,” she explained.

“We know in the broad consumer market that people who have access to ChatGPT, for example, or other products like it, are already using that to help them file complaints or help them assemble their documents. And we know that if you’re looking at the corporate client side of things, folks in corporations are using it a lot. So, everyone is going to be pushed, whether you’re a sole practitioner, middle-sized law firm, a large law firm. Everyone’s going to be pushed by their respective client base, if not internally. So, I think we have to embrace it. Not everyone is, but I think we have to.”

But in 2024, Ms Mottershead advised firms to “buckle up” because there’s still a lot more to come in terms of legal tech and AI developments.

“We’re going to see the really large platforms do a lot of stuff, but we’re going to see an enormous number of new products coming onto the market as well. So, I think the tech side is going to be busy. But I do think that we’re going to see consolidation, not in terms of there not being new stuff happening, but really around those use cases. And I think also we’re going to see the emergence and emphasis on metrics. Are we actually starting to see any return on investment? Because these things will get cheaper, but at the moment, they cost a bit around talent,” she added.

“I think we’re really going to start to see an expansion of existing roles and some new roles jumping in as well. And they will jump into law firms and legal departments or into existing roles like legal ops, but we’re going to see those expand and they’re going to be very focused on the issues and the risk issues around AI and also the utilisation around AI. I think we’re going to see the education market here explode, as it should in terms of servicing. I am beyond ridiculously excited about all of this stuff. I think it’s absolutely amazing.”

Ms Sandler echoed this sentiment and added that throughout 2023, there has been a real focus on upskilling and education and “getting a handle” on the technology.

“I expect next year what we are definitely going to see is both the use of these generalised technologies and also these very domain-specific technologies as well. I think some of the friction we’ve seen previously with legal technologies is that it has taken our lawyers outside of the ecosystem in which they are operating daily. So, my recommendation to people would be [to] look at their current ecosystem, look at the technology that they have already seen and speak to the vendors [about] what they are doing in terms of embedding and integrating generative AI into those platforms and then look and see what other use cases you might have to go out there broadly into the market to see what you might need,” she concluded.

“I think we need to go back to basics and remember, we need to identify where those use cases are, where the pain points are and then actually map the technology against that because I think many have become unstuck over that over the last sort of five to 10 years and then. So, I think there’s some exciting developments over the next year.”

NB: This transcript has been edited slightly for publishing purposes. You can listen to the full episode here:

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