Four Legal AI Trends Impacting Corporate Legal Departments

Each day, the accomplishments of artificial intelligence multiply. AI recently solved Schrödinger’s equation in quantum chemistry. It regularly diagnoses medical conditions, pilots jets and fetches answers for our everyday queries. And now, it might dance better than you do.

The ever-improving abilities of AI are having marked positive impacts on a wide variety of industries and professions – especially corporate legal departments and the in-house counsel and legal operations professionals that run them. So, what can corporate legal departments expect from legal AI in 2021?

Ari Kaplan, attorney, legal industry analyst, author, technologist and host of the Reinventing Professionals podcast, recently interviewed Nick Whitehouse, General Manager of the Onit AI Center of Excellence. Nick, who is the 2019 IDC DX Leader of the Year and Talent’s 2018 Most Disruptive Leader Award (as judged by Sir Richard Branson and Steve Wozniak), shared the legal AI trends that general counsel and legal operations professionals should keep an eye on for 2021, including:

  • Accelerated adoption – The pandemic has greatly affected the use of AI, spurring businesses and their corporate legal departments to recategorize it from curiosity to necessity. For example, 2020 saw many companies having to quickly reassess large numbers of contracts (such as leases). Legal AI allowed in-house teams to quickly assess their contracts and take action, helping their businesses survive and thrive.
  • Banishing the black box – Legal departments have historically been perceived as black boxes – work goes in and decisions come out slowly with little transparency. AI reduces the time spent on individual transactions, increasing transparency by enabling consistent use of playbooks and the ability for the business to self-serve.
  • Focus on solving in-house challenges  – The technology has shifted from a project-based law firm focus toward products that are centered on solving in-house problems like contract lifecycle management and AI legal contract review. With 71% of lawyers saying they are mired in manual tasks, these AI products can drive a massive amount of value for corporate legal.
  • AI in the near future – In addition to the shift from law firm focused AI services to more in-house based services, corporate legal can expect a greater blending of AI into contract lifecycle management and third-party review as well as AI-assisted document automation and billing management.

Visit the Reinventing Professionals website to listen to the podcast. You can also find it (and subscribe) on Apple podcasts.

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