If one of your big goals for 2024 is adopting AI in your law firm, keep in mind that the AI you use today is the worst AI you will ever use. Here’s advice on sticking with it.
For many people, the start of the new year brings the inclination to make resolutions. Perhaps it’s a cliche, but a new year offers a clean slate in some ways, making it a good time to start fresh and note what we want to do better — or even just differently. But honestly, how many people stick with their resolutions? Obstacles arise that make it challenging to change old habits or adopt new ideas — and this is particularly true of technology adoption.
The Year to Explore How to Use AI in Your Law Firm
After the introduction of ChatGPT in late 2022, business and legal trade media seemed to be all AI all the time in 2023. While this attention may have made it appear that generative AI has already achieved widespread use, in fact the earliest solutions didn’t always yield the results many expected. Experts are still actively working to develop new AI tools with practical applications in many industries, including legal.
So, despite the hype, law firms that haven’t incorporated artificial intelligence into their tech stacks and workflows are not behind the curve — yet. But 2024 will be the year for legal professionals to dive in and see how this technology can work.
For those resolving to adopt AI this year, here are five practical tips to help that resolution stick.
1. Embrace Uncertainty
We are at the precipice of a paradigm shift in the way we work. Technology and processes are evolving at a speed we have never experienced before, so it is important to accept that you don’t know what results you may end up with and that it may take time to get it right. Not everyone is comfortable with a trial-and-error approach, and for attorneys, it may be extra challenging to accept this uncertainty. So, an adaptive mindset is central to success.
2. Set Realistic Goals for AI Adoption
Most New Year’s resolutions fail when people set ambitious goals without considering whether they can practically accomplish what they’re setting out to do. The same can be said for implementing any new technology in your law firm, especially AI.
Initial goals should be designed to enhance, rather than completely overhaul, an existing process. Start with a reasonable, manageable adjustment to your everyday workflows. For example, rather than attempting to leverage AI to generate a motion in its entirety, consider using an AI tool to summarize the cases you are evaluating to cite in a brief.
An incremental, pragmatic approach will alleviate concerns about issues such as the much-discussed hallucination problem and build trust among teams that may be affected by the implementation of AI.
Consider leveraging AI assistants and chatbots to help with personal administrative activities. Using AI in workflows that offer opportunities to validate, train and refine results will help with its adoption.
(For more ideas on developing good systems and processes, read our guide “Ready to Scale: How to Set Up the Systems That Allow Your Firm to Grow”.)
3. Create a Plan With Milestones for Adopting AI in Your Law Firm
With any resolution, developing and following a well-thought-out plan and identifying clear milestones generally increase the likelihood you’ll be able to stick to it. A step-by-step plan not only keeps things on track, but also will allow you to evaluate the initiative’s overall success as you undertake and move through a project. This enables a more focused and results-oriented outcome.
The most effective plans include an element of education and dedicated efforts to build trust among key constituents. Providing legal teams with hands-on opportunities to interact with models and review results will improve their sense of understanding and confidence in what AI can do for their practice.
4. Find Support
Resolutions often fail when we don’t have a support network to help us work through the inevitable challenges that arise. They also keep us accountable. Talk to your colleagues, peers and clients about their experiences with implementing AI solutions, including their successes and challenges with this technology. We’re all in the same boat of trying to figure out where, when and how AI might bring value to our organizations. So, coming together and working with diverse teams to determine what works and what is still not ready for prime time will remain critical in the coming months.
5. Be Flexible and Be Kind to Yourself
While significant headway is being made every day in the development of AI solutions and their practical applications in legal environments, know that AI integration might not always go smoothly. Some may feel pressure to have all the answers right now, but be prepared to adjust strategies. And don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t go as planned.
Lastly, and this is probably a sixth resolution: Stick with it! Following through on resolutions can be hard, especially when adopting a new technology.
It’s important to remember that the AI you use today is the worst AI you will ever use. It’s going to keep improving, but it will take work to get it where it needs to be.
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