The Legal Helm: Podcast episode #17
It’s that time of year! 2023 predictions and trends! In this episode Helm360’s executive VP, Bim Dave, goes solo to talk about his three top 2023 trends. Think you know what they are? Tune in to find out if you’re right! Bim has great use case examples and surprising areas where new legal tech can be used. Enjoy!
Estimated read time: 8 minutes
Bim Dave is Helm360’s Executive Vice President. With 15+ years in the legal industry, his keen understanding of how law firms and lawyers use technology has propelled Helm360 to the industry’s forefront. A technical expert with a penchant for developing solutions that improve business systems and user experience, Bim has a knack for bringing high quality IT architects and developers together to create innovative, useable solutions to the legal arena.
Hello Legal Helm listeners and welcome back to my podcast. Let me start by saying a very happy new year to you all. I’m truly grateful for you, our loyal listeners, and of course, the amazing guests that we have had on the show in 2022. We have a fantastic lineup for 2023, so please stay tuned.
On today’s podcast, I’ll be giving you my take on the top three legal technology trends for 2023. Legal technology is rapidly evolving and the trends of 2023 reflect this.
Let’s jump straight into the first one, which is artificial intelligence.
Over the last year we’ve seen an increased use of artificial intelligence in various products. I think this year we will see AI being used more than ever before to automate mundane tasks and make legal processes more efficient. The progression of AI machine learning models, such as GPT-3, -3.5, and the upcoming GPT4, are starting to show just how exciting and useful AI technology can be for our industry.
In addition to this, the recent launch of ChatGPT changes the game from a user experience perspective by bringing a more human way to get answers to questions through natural language processing. To give an example, I asked ChatGPT through their demo platform to generate a non-disclosure agreement. It gave a pretty nice and accurate template for me to use.
I then asked it to write a blog post about the legal implications of blockchain technology, to which it provided me a very robust outline of an introduction, legal implications, and conclusion. Sure, it still needed to be fleshed out, but when you think about some of the time savings for lawyers who need to create relevant content via blogs and websites, it does a decent job of producing the initial outline, therefore saving many, many hours in terms of generating that initial content.
There are many potential applications of AI technology in the legal industry. For example, document review. AI can be used to quickly review and analyze large volumes of legal documents, such as contracts, leases, and settlement agreements. This can save time and reduce the need for manual review by lawyers.
Another area is predictive analytics. AI can be used to analyze past legal cases and predict outcomes of similar cases in the future. This helps lawyers prepare their cases and provide more accurate advice to clients.
Legal research is another key area where AI can be used to quickly search through large volumes of legal literature, such as case law statutes, to find relevant information. Again, this helps lawyers find information really easily and much more quickly than they can today.
One of the big areas is around contract drafting. AI can be used to generate legal documents, such as contracts, leases, etc., based on templates and input from lawyers. This helps reduce the time and cost of contract drafting.
And the accuracy of some of the AI solutions out there is impressive. For example, ChatGPT, which I mentioned earlier, is trained so well that it has a decent accuracy level, actually gives a meaningful starting point to a contract draft in most cases. And where, for example, the machine learning models aren’t up to par, they are all trainable by the experts i e, the lawyers, to make them even better.
Another no-brainer area of AI that should be of interest to any law firm is semantic search. Semantic. search combines NLP (natural Language processing) and machine learning to provide a much more meaningful way of finding a needle in a haystack. When you think about a typical law firm and all the knowledge that’s contained on intranet, portals, file shares that contain documents, PDFs, SharePoint sites, et cetera, it is often a very painful user experience to find what you are looking for quickly.
Semantic search is different. It uses vector search and machine learning to return results that aim to match the user’s query, even if there are no specific word matches. It’s able to apply user intent, context, and conceptual meanings to match user’s query to the appropriate content. This makes it much more powerful, much more relevant in terms of finding hits that you want and actually conform part of the basis and starting point for delivering a true question and answer-based approach to the content that’s already contained within your ecosystem of documents and files.
If you’d like to read more on this, I’d highly recommend looking at the hugging faces/transformer GitHub page, where you can find some really cool ready-to-go machine learning models for this purpose. All of this stuff is open source, so can be implemented by your technology teams immediately.
The second on my top trends list is blockchain technology.
Blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger that records transactions on multiple computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the consensus of the network. This provides for a much more secure approach to sending and storing relevant documentation and data.
Some of the potential use cases for blockchain in law firms are secure document storage and management where blockchain technology can be used to create secure and tamper-proof records of documents, making it an ideal solution for storing and managing legal documents. Blockchain-based smart contracts can automate many legal processes and reduce the need for manual contract review and negotiation, and obviously add a better security layer on top of the smart contract process.
Identity verification is another key area where blockchain technology can be used to identify and verify the identity of clients and other parties relating to a case, thereby reducing the risk of fraud and identity.
Legal billing and payments is another great area where blockchain-based payment systems can be used to streamline the billing and payment process for legal services, reducing the risk of errors and fraud again.
I think in 2023 we will start to see blockchain technology being leveraged by more and more firms, particularly around the contract lifecycle management process. A good example is leveraging capability from a CLM and document exchange perspective in Thomson Reuters HighQ product the combination of a document exchange room. Plus, integrating blockchain technology provides a very secure method of being able to exchange key legal documents between organizations.
The third and final trend on my list, and probably the most exciting in my opinion, is virtual and augmented reality.
We’ve seen a rise of VR in the gaming world and the evolution of hardware, such as Meta’s Oculus headset, which shows just how far the technology has come. Let’s think about some of the applications of VR in the legal world.
One possibility is that virtual reality will be used to recreate crime scenes or accidents in order to give jurors a better understanding of what happened. This could be particularly useful in cases where physical location of the crime or accident is no longer accessible or has been significantly altered since the event took.
Another potential use case for virtual reality in the courtroom is a tool for witness testimony. Witnesses could potentially testify while wearing virtual headsets, allowing them to relive the experiences in a way that is more immersive and potentially more accurate. This could be particularly useful in cases where a witness has difficulty remembering or communicating what happened due to trauma of the event.
From an education perspective, virtual reality could be used to train judges, lawyers, and other legal professionals, or to simulate courtroom proceedings in order to prepare them for real cases. I think this is a really key and fantastic area, both for new lawyers joining law firms and training to be court ready, but also for those practicing law who are undergoing continuing education via sessions at university. For example, experiencing live debates, et cetera. Nothing beats the experience of being in a courtroom and understanding the dynamics of what’s going on. Being able to have that in a virtual offering I think is very key and a very important step in terms of taking education and theory, putting it into practice and providing a training environment for new lawyers that is as close to the real world as possible.
I recently came across Just Legal’s VR offering, which provides an immersive virtual courtroom experience for new lawyers and law students to practice their presentation skills in a virtual courtroom. Interesting and worth keeping an eye on. How this area of technology evolves for firms looking to improve onboarding and getting better results through better training essentially.
That is all for today. I hope you found my top three legal technology trends for 2023 interesting. If you are planning to implement or have implemented any of these technologies, I would love to hear from you.
I wish you a fantastic and successful year ahead, and thank you again for listening.