I’ve been meaning to write this post since I was following along with the ILTA Conference tweets a couple of weeks ago. I was struck by some of the things being shared during the keynotes about AI, specifically about the idea of learning modules that the team from IBM’s Watson project were talking about.
My mind immediately went to Tony Stark from the Iron Man movies and how when he needs to know something, he simply asks Jarvis, his artificial assistant. I could picture a day when a lawyer involved in a new case, who maybe wasn’t as experienced with that type of case, or that area of law, could simply ask Jarvis, and learn what they need to know.
If we think about how this plays out now, a young lawyer who wants to know how similar cases were handled and see what research had been done could, if they were working in a large firm, simply walk down the hall and ask another lawyer who had that knowledge. In fact, that is what most law firm’s KM projects are trying to bring about, making sure everyone knows who knows what.
That really is one of the bigger benefits of being in a firm, the variety of expertise and the ability to tap in to those resources as needed.
But, what if, instead of going down the hall, I could simply ask Jarvis to research the latest information and case law and summarize it for me? What if I could have Jarvis dig into past and current cases all over the country and tell me what works and what doesn’t?
How does that change the law firm dynamic? Sure, there would still be some benefits to working in a firm, and other benefits to working on your own, but Jarvis could make working out on your own, or in smaller firms, a bit easier. The AI assistant could replace legal research tools, help explain technology, and analyze documents and case law in mere minutes. It would obliterate the billable hour as a measure of worth, something that we’re already seeing occur around the industry. More importantly, how does this bring down the overall cost of legal work and improve the access to justice problem that we have in the US?
Change is coming, and I’ve talked many times about how we haven’t really thought through the ramifications of AI technology. Law firms would do well to be aware of these changes, and young lawyers would do well to be aware that these changes are coming, even if their firm management isn’t acknowledging them.
How do you see a Jarvis-like AI tool changing the way legal work is done? What does the future hold for big law firms when anyone can get access to AI?
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