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.

As I have discussed, most lawyers are not using GenAI tools and remain frightened by them. They hear a lot about the dangers and see the publicity about problems and sanctions. They listen to overdosed lectures about vectors and word pattern predictions. They often conclude that using GenAI is probably not worth it, especially when their law firms issue blanket prohibitions.

Certainly, lawyers and legal professionals need to be aware of the risks of GenAI and what can go wrong. That caution is part of our ethical responsibilities. And yes, that requires at least a rudimentary understanding of how the systems work. It’s good to focus on theories, warnings, and philosophies about use.

But what is missing is practical, boots-on-the-ground information about use cases. Lawyers and legal professionals need to see how GenAi can be used to their benefit. They need to see how prompts can be composed to accomplish something actually beneficial to day to day work. Otherwise, they will continue to conclude that the mystery of the “black box” systems and the potential dangers far outweigh the benefits. Because the benefits are often not demonstrated.

I just need to see how these tools could help me. I need to learn how to use the systems.

I can’t tell you how many lawyers have said to me; I just need to see how these tools could help me. I need to learn how to use the systems. And when workshop sessions are offered showing these things, lawyers floc to them. They quickly see how revolutionary the tools can be.

When shown how even open systems can be used to do such things as generate marketing pieces and content, analyze large data sets, summarize documents, perform due diligence checks, undertake general research, brainstorm, write stuff like job descriptions, create project management processes, and suggest changes in the business organization, they begin to see. And when you throw in such things as preparing potential questions for corporate rep depositions or potential voir dire questions, as I have discussed before, you can almost hear bells going off in their heads. Now they see. Now they understand because practical sessions are speaking in their language, not computer geek speak, which has always been part of the problem with lawyers adopting technology.

Conference planners don’t need multiple sessions about the technology itself and its risks, which lawyers hear as “Don’t use.” They don’t need constant dribble about lawyers having to use expensive closed systems that often sound more like sales pitches than helpful information.

Like the Missouri state motto, “show me”, they need to be shown. Especially with technology that is evolving so fast, we need to focus on the use and the how. The why will become self-evident. We all need to roll up our sleeves and plunge into the gritty use details.