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Making the leap into legal software is ‘easier than it’s ever been’

Although there have been a lot of new developments in emerging technology over the course of the last year, this founder said that in 2024, “AI will fade into the background” and become the norm.

user iconLauren Croft 10 January 2024 SME Law
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Speaking on a recent episode of LawTech Talks, Clio founder and chief executive Jack Newton (pictured) outlined the state of affairs in cloud-based technology and how it is revolutionising the legal landscape.

First launched in 2008, Clio is a cloud-based practice management and legal CRM that allows lawyers to manage every aspect of running their law practice from the cloud.

While artificial intelligence (AI) has been a key topic of focus for the legal profession this year, Mr Newton said that “over the next five years, we’re going to see AI fade into the background and just become a presumed baseline for a lot of software products”.


“You’re going to have software products helping you draft an email to a client. And in the same way, you don’t think about autocomplete as AI, or you don’t think about even using Grammarly as AI today. You’re going to have autocompletes of entire paragraphs in a lot of your tools that are just magic; they’re just appearing, and you’re not necessarily thinking about it as an AI feature. You’re going to have [summaries] of very complex documents provided to you. And again, we’ll just start taking that for granted and forget there’s some really sophisticated LLM and machine learning happening in the background to power that,” he said.

“So, all that is to say, at the end of the day, what customers really care about is features that help make them more productive. More and more of those features will leverage AI, but potentially leverage AI in very non-obvious ways or ways that are really under the hood. And to me, that will be a signal, actually, that we’re succeeding at delivering AI to customers when they don’t even realise they’re leveraging AI.”

The cloud is also something that has somewhat faded into the background – and Mr Newton said that if law firms aren’t already implementing cloud technology, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to implement AI tech effectively.

“I think about AI basically as sitting almost at the top of a version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I think that law firms need to think about what is the baseline of their hierarchy of needs around data. If you’re not in the cloud, you’re really not in a position to start leveraging AI in any kind of meaningful way. You can’t be sitting on banker boxes full of legal documents and hard drives full of on-premise software and effectively leverage AI. You just can’t.

“Are you in the cloud? Are you paperless? And are you equipped for the next level of advancement? The next level of advancement, and the next step up, is really, I would say, data analytics. And this is where a lot of law firms can get really powerful insights from their data that don’t require any fancy AI,” he said.

“It’s like, do you understand your utilisation rate? Do you understand your realisation and collection rate? Do you understand all the key performance indicators that are important to running a high-performance law firm? And then on top of, I’d say, the apex of this pyramid is AI and machine learning, where when you have this entire infrastructure in place, you can start really driving some incredible automation, getting very deep insights from your data and so on.”

All of this is also easier for early adopters and those already interested in legal tech – meaning those who aren’t are already falling behind on the legal tech front.

“If you’ve already become an early adopter of these tools, you’re well positioned to jump into the AI world. But if you’re still on-prem software, or if you’re still the 20 per cent or so of lawyers in Australia that use pen and paper to do your trust accounts and your matter management, you need to be thinking about [making] the leap into this new world. And what’s great about that is making that leap is easier than it’s ever been. You don’t need to buy a bunch of hardware, and you don’t need necessarily to spend a tonne of money to get up and running with some very leading-edge tools to help you run your law firm more effectively,” Mr Newton concluded.

“But if you’re not in the cloud, there’s never been a more compelling case to get your practice into the cloud. And the additional power that AI offers over and above just a pure cloud solution is exponential. So, you’re now looking at technologies that are going to help you do the work of one or two more people when you’re fully leveraging these tools compared to what was available just a year ago.”

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

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