“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.” 

The Queen of Hearts in Lewis Carroll’sAlice in Wonderland

I have written before about the uncertainty many lawyers and legal professionals in small and mid-size law firms have when it comes to Gen AI . When I looked at this issue a couple of months ago, I said, Most of the lawyers I talked to…had not adopted Gen AI tools. Most had little familiarity with what it could do, how it works, and how they could be affected by it. Most of them were genuinely frightened about using Gen AI, a fear fed by the publicity of hallucinations and lawyers being sanctioned for citing cases that didn’t exist that Chat GPT provided. “

But like so many things associated with Gen AI, this reluctance may be about to change for a couple of reasons.

Apple Intelligence: AI For The Rest of Us

Apple held its annual World Wide Development Conference (WWDC) this past week. One of the big things announced was the concept of Apple Intelligence. I have to admit, when I first heard the term, I thought it was a little hokey. AI for Apple doesn’t mean artificial intelligence. It means Apple intelligence. But like my good friend Brett Burney mentioned in his weekly In The News podcast with Jeff Richardson, the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that there was really something to what Apple was doing.

First and perhaps foremost, most of what the Apple AI will do will be on your device. Your iPhone, your iPad, your Mac. That means nothing will go to the cloud. No one can see what you ask or what the response is. This is huge for us lawyers, who are worried about privacy and confidentiality. Apple Intelligence will be a completely private system. 

So when Apple talks about having the system help you draft emails or summarize documents, the system will only look at what is on your phone. It won’t go elsewhere unless you give it express permission to use another system like ChatGPT to help answer. And even then, Apple says ChatGPT will not use your information or know who you are.

As Ian O’Flaherty, CEO of LitSoftware puts it, “One of the most exciting aspects is Apple’s emphasis on privacy. With Apple Intelligence, the ability to perform complex tasks on-device ensures that legal clients’ sensitive information does not become a source for large language models. This is a significant advantage for legal professionals who are rightly concerned about confidentiality and data security.” LitSoftware makes products for use on IPads and O’Flaherty closely follows Apple developments.

O’Flaherty also believes the “added ability to utilize ChatGPT if necessary, with Apple asking the user before any information is shared, sets it apart from other models.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean all the responses are 100% accurate or hallucination free. But it does mean a lawyer can use Apple Intelligence with the assurance that the client’s privacy is protected. Apple’s commitment to privacy and protection of confidentiality is well known. Of any vendor, when Apple says your privacy will be protected, you likely have the best assurance you can get.

What does this mean practically? Load your depositions on your Mac or iPad and then ask about content. Ask Apple Intelligence to summarize a deposition for you. Ask it to search through documents. Ask it to draft a motion based on other motions already on your iPad. You can ask the kinds of queries a lawyer would only feel comfortable asking a closed and expensive system. And at least for some period of time, Apple intelligence will be free.

Many of us are used to and feel very comfortable using Apple products.

There is another reason Apple Intelligence is important. It’s the ubiquitous use of Apple devices. More lawyers use iPhones than almost any other system. Lawyers, particularly litigators, are significant users of iPads as well. Many of us are used to and feel very comfortable using Apple products. When Apple introduces a new tool, like fancy cameras or Apple Pay, most of us get used to using them pretty quickly. We soon forget what it was like not to have these conveniences.

My prediction is the same for Apple intelligence. We will quickly get used to asking it to revise or create an email or summarize a document. Once we feel comfortable using Apple Intelligence for personal purposes, we will see how it will make our work easier as well. As Apple puts it, Apple Intelligence is AI for the rest of us. O’Flaherty beleives that the new Apple advancement will enhance the capabilities of his company’s products and that apps will become even more helpful and intuitive. All of this means I think that there will be ever growing uses.

Richard Tromans of The Artificial Lawyer once said it’s not a game-changer until the game is changed. Once it’s up and running, Apple Intelligence may be that game changer for lawyers and the use of artificial intelligence.

Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

There is another reason the perception of lawyers in small and mid-size have of Gen AI may be about to change. I talk to lots of lawyers, given my various roles and connections. Most of these lawyers are in small to mid-size firms. Most of them are litigators, generally on the defense side.

When you ask them about the challenges their firms are facing, the almost universal refrain is that they can’t find qualified associates and paralegals. These firms can’t afford to pay the salaries Big Law is offering. And the talent pool that they used to be able to tap into is no longer there for whatever reason. So they can’t find people to do the work that needs to be done.

Lawyers in these firms are overworked and over stressed.

Lawyers in these firms are overworked and over stressed. They are desperate for solutions as courts keep pushing cases to trial to overcome the Covid backlog. There is also no shortage of new matters. Add to this the specter of “nuclear verdicts” in almost any case, rate pressures and inflation, and you get an idea why they are desperate.

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Lawyers may, by necessity, turn to AI and Gen AI tools just to get them through the day and continue to practice at a high level. To get the work done that associates and legal professionals once did. Correspondingly, these tools may force lawyers in these firms to examine their business model. It could result in them billing for their work differently. It may not end the billable hour, but it could result in some work being done on a flat fee basis. 

And with Apple Intelligence making the use of Gen AI easier and safer, lawyers could be even more comfortable with using AI tools.

The Proverbial Tipping Point

Granted, Apple Intelligence will not be generally available till the fall, at the earliest. And it will only work with newer Apple devices. But still, putting the above developments together, many lawyers and law firms may soon be at the proverbial tipping point for the use of Gen AI in their day to day work.

That doesn’t mean they won’t be practicing law. It does mean they can work smarter instead of harder. Unlike the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, they may discover a way to run twice as fast as they could before.

Photo Attribution: Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash

There’s gold in them thar hills. Mark Twain in 1892 novel The American Claimant

Almost every law firm has a great wealth of documents and knowledge locked up in work they have previously done in cases and matters. If only they could find it. The problem, as I have discussed before, is that lawyers don’t want to spend nonbillable time getting the information into a system where it could be searched and accessed. But a recent partnership between the major legal research player, vLex, and a leading document management vendor, iManage, is attempting to solve that problem.

Continue Reading vLex and iManage Partner to Maximize Customer Past Efforts: But User Process is Key

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
– Martin Luther King

For some time, we (the legal profession) have collectively wrung our hands over the access to justice (A2J) problem in the US and elsewhere. But that’s about all we have done: despite all our consternation, there has been little real progress. And now that gap may be about to significantly widen.

Fundamentally, there simply can’t be much access to justice without access to the Internet. Indeed, there can’t be much access to the American dream at all without reliable internet access. Yet that access for millions of people who without assistance could not afford it is about to be cut off.

Continue Reading Terminating the Affordable Connectivity Program: A Huge Step Backward for Access to Justice

Lawyers need to advise clients of risks of Gen AI.

Another week, and I find myself at yet another legal conference focusing on AI and Gen AI. Lots of the now standard discussions about whether and how Gen AI will impact lawyers and the legal profession. Presenters droning on about the risks and benefits to lawyers of using Gen AI. But like so many things lawyers stew over, the focus of these discussions is almost always on the lawyer’s professional navels and not on the interests of their clients.

When lawyers do focus on their clients in this area, it’s mostly all about worrying about what Gen AI will do to the all-powerful billable hour, what it will do to their revenue, and whether lawyers will be replaced by a Gen AI version of Her (or Him). 

Lawyers worry mainly not about their client’s use and potential liability but about themselves.

But as usual, lawyers are collectively missing something. Their clients, who are businesses, and even individuals are using AI and Gen AI every day. They are using it to develop products. To manufacture products. To assist in making business and individual decisions. To assess risks. To create contracts. All the while, lawyers worry mainly not about their client’s use and potential liability but about themselves.

Continue Reading Gen AI in Legal Practice: It’s Not About Us Lawyers, It’s About Our Clients

The International Legal Technology Association, or ILTA as it is commonly referred to, is no stranger to holding giant technology conferences. Each August, it puts on an annual four-day show that draws over 3400 attendees and some 150 exhibitors and sponsors. This summer’s Show will be in Nashville from August 11-15. The Show offers a wide range of content for every legal tech issue as well as a widely diverse group of sponsors and exhibitors.

Continue Reading ILTA’s Evolve Conference: Smaller, Smarter and Focused

On May 8, the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics issued its formal Opinion 511 entitled Confidentiality Obligations of Lawyers Posting to Listservs. As Bob Ambrogi rightly pointed out in his recent post on the Opinion, it seems odd that the ABA would issue an opinion now about a technology that has been around since the late 90s. For Bob, it brought to mind Rip Van Winkle, who slept for 20 years only to wake up in a unrecognizable world.

I agree that the timing seemed strange. However, the substance of the Opinion could relate to and reveal the Committee’s thinking about the use by lawyers of large language models (LLMs).

The Opinion deals with when a lawyer can post questions or comments on a ListServ without their client’’s “informed consent.” According to the Opinion (and clearly, under the Rules), a lawyer can only do so if there is not a reasonable likelihood that a reader could determine either the identity of the client or the matter. The Opinion also discusses what “informed consent” entails.

Continue Reading ABA’s Opinion 511 and Its Impact on Legal Ethics in the AI Era: A Wake Up Call?

Don’t tell me about your effort. Show me your results. Tim Fargo

 I have recently attended several legal tech conferences and other lawyer meetings, which were dominated by Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) discussions and presentations.

Despite the rapid advancement of GenAI and AI technologies, the content at these events is pretty repetitive. Most of the presentations center on the dangers of lawyers using GenAi, and how the GenAi systems work. The presenters drone on about the “black box”. They pontificate endlessly about how the systems will revolutionize the practice of law in short order. How they will drag the moribund legal profession kicking and screaming into the 21st century. In many of these conferences, IT professionals and vendors outnumber bewildered lawyers and legal professionals. In most of these conferences, the event planners and speakers are not lawyers; if they are, they have advanced pretty far up the GenAI legal curve and speak geek more than legal.

Continue Reading From Theory to Practice: The Need for Real-World GenAI Demonstrations For Lawyers and Legal Professionals

It goes without saying that one of the most critical functions of a law firm is to train its associates adequately. But time constraints and a lack of consistency, as I have previously discussed, make good, sound training of associates problematic in many firms. However, large language models and GenAI, even open models, may offer potential solutions. Provided, of course, that the firm and its partners understand the risks and benefits of these models and how to use them.

Continue Reading Revolutionizing Law Firm Training with AI: The Power of Large Language Models

It seems like every day, there is a new vendor survey about what’s happening in the legal marketplace. Sometimes, these are designed to reveal a result that the vendor thinks will help sell its products. Sometimes, they offer beneficial and, in some cases, remarkably candid insights.

Thomson Reuters’ GenAI Study

Thomson Reuters released its 2024 Generative AI in Professional Services Survey Report earlier this week. The release coincided with a couple of new release announcements by Thomson Reuters in the GenAI space. TR has invested a lot of money in this area and obviously believes in its future in the legal ecosystem (I know. The term “legal ecosystem” is a grating cliché).

What’s interesting about the Survey Report is that, unlike surveys that confirm what the vendor wants, this one goes a little against the grain. It also seems to confirm what I am noticing and previously wrote: Lawyers just aren’t rushing—yet—to embrace GenAI.

As the TR Survey notes: “GenAI usage is not widespread among professional services…The most common emotion surrounding GenAI is one of caution and hesistance”. (To be fair, the TR Report does conclude that the industry may be on the cusp of changing its view of GenAI. According to the Report, there is a feeling of “optimism and excitement” in the legal community).

Continue Reading Lawyers’ GenAI Hesitancy: Insights from the 2024 GenAI Professional Services Survey

Working with outside counsel is like getting thrown in a pit of rattlesnakes and hoping one won’t bite you. Anonymous

Axiom, the 14,000-person alternative legal service provider, launched in 2000, together with Wakefield Research, recently conducted and published a Study of U.S. in-house counsel. They conducted a 15-minute Survey online in January and February of this year. Some 300 general counsels of small, mid-size, and large businesses responded.

Continue Reading Law Firms on Notice: Adapt to In-House Counsel’s Concerns in the Wake of Axiom’s 2023 Findings. Or Else