Helm360 Sales Director Sue Mikelsons interviews the firm’s Executive VP, Bim Dave, about the future of artificial intelligence in the legal industry. They discuss what AI might soon look like at law firms, how law firms might take advantage of AI trends, and how Termi, Helm360’s AI-enabled business intelligence solution, is positioned to become an integral tool of the law firm of the near-future. The following is part one of a two-part series in which Bim discusses his thoughts on how AI will benefit law firms in the short-term. You can listen to part two here.
Bim Dave, Helm360 Executive Vice President: I’ve been with Helm360 for about three and a half years, but I’ve been serving the legal industry for approximately 20 years. I started out at Thomson Reuters, where I was responsible for a lot of the implementations of their ERP solution, which is Elite 3E, and helping customers globally to implement that solution, customize it, convert data into it, and all the issues and tasks associated with helping law firms go live with a new ERP solution.
Sue Mikelsons, Helm360 Sales Director: I joined Helm360 this year as their Sales Director. Bim and I worked together for many years and we’ve been in the legal sector for quite some time. We started with Elite 3E, with the Enterprise world, with Windows, we go back to Informix. So, lots of expertise and knowledge, and we had a wonderful time working with many clients and vendors.
Sue: Bim, where do you see AI going? Is a tool like AI going to benefit law firms and if it is, where do you see it being leveraged in the law firm sector?
Bim: These days, AI is kind of baked into pretty much everything we do. Whether you’re on your mobile phone or your computer, in any kind of Windows or Apple software, there is some AI element processing information in the background. This enables AI companies to dive into the data that they’re rendering as part of the user experience to help them to be more efficient.
I think it’s no different with law firms. There are so many different ways AI can benefit a law firm. It comes down to how you implement it and making sure it’s relevant to the problem you’re trying to solve.
Because there is a danger with any kind of new technology that you implement it for the sake of implementing new technology. What it comes down to, be it AI or any other kind of future technology, is focusing on what the problem is you’re trying to solve with the solution and then defining a way of implementing that solution so that it solves that problem.
What’s great about the AI space at the moment is that it’s become a lot more accessible than it was in previous years. There are big vendors out there, like Microsoft and Amazon, that have built frameworks that allow application developers and vendors, like ourselves, to leverage certain elements of those stacks to build very robust solutions in very short amounts of time, which solve some of these customer problems. This is everything from using machine learning algorithms and frameworks to natural language processing and using those to deliver a more enhanced experience.
I remember reading an article from Gartner which basically said that by the end of 2024, approximately 75% of enterprises will shift from this mode of really piloting AI and moving to a more operational AI; so really actually implementing the technology for real. This parallels a conversation we have with law firms who are trialing technology right now to see what AI can do for them. What this statistic really shows is that as we start to uncover AI’s benefits and how to implement it effectively, we’ll reach a point where, from an operational perspective, we can actually see the benefit over years to come. It’s a very exciting time and great to be talking about AI and how relevant it can be in the legal industry.
Sue: How do you see AI going into a law firm’s day-to-day practice? Is it going to replace individuals, or is it going to enhance those individuals’ capabilities?
Bim: I think ultimately it falls into a few different areas. I think AI is applicable to every role within a law firm. I don’t think the technology should be limited or will be limited to certain individuals or certain roles within a law firm. I think fundamentally if implemented correctly and implemented right, it can enhance the day-to-day experience and the productivity of any person within a law firm whether that’s your managing partner or the receptionist on the front desk. There are different ways AI can be implemented to enhance all employee profiles.
What it comes down to is what’s available and how it’s implemented. There is always some resistance/reluctance to embrace technology as being the silver bullet, as solving our problem. That’s not necessarily due to the technology, but how you go about implementing the technology.
The success stories we see have true stakeholder input throughout the implementation’s life cycle and, ultimately, you’re actually solving the problem by listening to the people that are living the problem. It’s successful because you’re building a solution around that or implementing a solution around that.
I think this is where a lot of projects get sidetracked. The technology is implemented with the view that it’s going to solve all of the firm’s problems without involving the affected people early on in the project. This is a fundamental key success parameter of any of the projects we run; have the right people at the table.
Where we see AI being successful and deployed in the legal industry today is everything from legal research to document creation to building draft contracts automatically. It can even handle contract review. You can train the AI algorithms to go and look at the contract, look at hundreds of pages, in a matter of seconds, and really understand the risk profile of that contract. It’s applicable to areas of due diligence. It’s about speed, accuracy, and timing to go and apply those solutions to those kinds of environments. That’s the big benefit.
It’s true you can scale a person out using this technology. But in my mind it’s not about necessarily replacing the human, because I don’t think you can ever get to a point where you can really do that; what you can do is you can enhance everybody’s ability to be able to do their job function in a more effective way. That’s the way it should be looked at from a technology standpoint. It’s about embracing and using the technology to do more efficiently, which allows you to focus more time on the things that can’t done by the technology, like relationship building, talking to clients, building a new client base, etc.
Sue: What I’m hearing you say is that AI is going to be an assistant; it’s going to really drive the law firm’s business processes. For instance, like when firms are working remotely, this AI tool remembers each user and does what that user needs it to do. it’s going to learn the scenarios, reports, and requirements for attorneys, the same for controllers and paralegals.
Bim: Yes, absolutely. It’s embedding AI into your day-to-day productivity. It’s about proactive intelligence. So understanding the context of the work that you’re doing at that moment in time, and having the AI component step in and make suggestions, perform actions, do what it needs to do to enable you to accelerate delivery of whatever that item is. I think that’s the key.
Let’s use a simple example. We live in our Outlook system; we’re bombarded with requests for information and follow-up questions that we need to get out the door quickly to really serve our clients in the most meaningful way. AI technology can live alongside an existing productivity suite like Outlook, as an example, and use the information that’s coming in there, like requests from a potential customer, to automatically fill in the gaps.
To use a specific example, Termi, our AI solution, embeds itself into your Outlook experience. Imagine a sidebar where Termi lives. The beauty of it is I can be having an email conversation with you Sue, and not know anything about you; it could be the first time you’re sending me a message, but Termi understands this is a new email coming in from somebody; it’s going to do automatic lookups for all of the key services within the law firm. So, if another lawyer has worked with you before, in maybe a different practice area, it helps me connect the dots in terms of the relationship. I can then pull information from the CRM perspective, get financial information, etc.; all of the key stats I need to build a relationship with you and give you a better service.
End of Part One
- AI is already in use in the modern workplace and making a huge impact on many fields; it’s poised to do so in the legal industry as well.
- Now is the time to start strategizing on how to implement AI at your firm.
- AI won’t replace anyone or make any current positions at your firm redundant; in fact, when used wisely, it will allow for large productivity gains at every level.
- The most effective AI solutions will be those tailored to suit every firm’s needs as opposed to off-the-shelf solutions that won’t yield many benefits.
- AI will be embedded into current tools to make them more effective and easier to use rather than replacing them altogether.
Check out Part II of the interview in which Bim discusses specific AI solutions like Helm360’s Termi, how the decision to create Termi arose from a real-world problem, and how these kinds of solutions can both assist your firm today and evolve alongside your firm in the future.
Want more information about how AI can benefit your firm? Interested in learning more about Termi? Contact us!