Legal Tech Startups Like Alexi Help Pave the Way for a Technological Revolution in the Legal Industry
Right under our noses, the legal profession is undergoing a profound transformation, driven by the steady advancement of artificial intelligence and generative AI technology. Sean Silcoff (author of Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of Blackberry) and Joe Castaldo of The Globe and Mail looked at the impacts already being realized by early adopters, and what the future of legal work could look like in their article: Lower fees, fewer lawyers and disruptive startups: Legal sector braces for impact from ChatGPT
Generative AI: Transforming Legal Practices
Since 2017, Mark Doble, CEO of Alexi, has been among those leading the charge in integrating generative AI into the legal profession. Alexi provides research memos for law firms, with prominent clients including Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and Gowling WLG. Doble is optimistic about the future, expecting substantial revenue growth in 2023.
"The legal profession is getting more comfortable about using AI," says Charles Dobson, a knowledge management lawyer with Osler's litigation group.
The growing acceptance of generative AI extends beyond startups like Alexi, encompassing industry giants such as LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters. These established legal database providers are recognizing the potential of generative AI and are actively integrating it into their existing products.
The article notes: “Legal database providers LexisNexis and Westlaw, owned by Thomson Reuters, are adding generative AI features to established products and backing startups in the field. Thomson Reuters has invested in seven generative AI startups and this summer bought Alexi rival Casetext Inc. for US$650-million.”
Real-World Impact: Lawyers' Perspectives
Ginevra Saylor, director of innovation and knowledge programs with Gowlings, attests to the positive impact of Alexi’s legal research capabilities: "The software saves our clients money and time but also focuses our lawyers on the valuable strategic and analytical aspects clients come to us for. Our lawyers who have used it like it. There's not much downside."
Brittany Ratelle, a solo practitioner based in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, relies heavily on technology to serve online content creators across the United States. When she saw an ad for Spellbook, an AI-powered tool for drafting contracts, she was intrigued.
"AI is getting rid of the work no one likes doing. I was very impressed. It saves me five to ten hours a week, which means fewer billable hours for clients and more clients I can serve," Ratelle shares.
The Promise and Challenges of Generative AI
Generative AI holds the promise of significantly improving the efficiency of legal processes, resulting in time and cost savings for clients. It empowers lawyers to redirect their focus toward higher-value, strategic tasks while simultaneously attracting new business opportunities. However, substantial challenges remain.
"It's actually quite a task to get these models to not come up with an invented response," says Benjamin Alarie, chief executive of Blue J Legal.
In response to these concerns, the legal AI community is diligently working to enhance the accuracy of generative AI systems. Alexi has its own method for ensuring top-quality materials are sent out to clients, incorporating a team of researchers to verify what lawyers receive from Alexi is accurate. "This human-in-the-loop paradigm approach is the right one for building domain-specific AI," says Doble.
The Future of Legal Practice
The legal profession finds itself at a pivotal juncture, as generative AI stands ready to redefine the delivery of legal services. While substantial challenges exist, the benefits in terms of enhanced efficiency and reduced costs are undeniable. Legal professionals are increasingly recognizing the imperative need to adapt to this technological revolution.
The article points out, “Surveys by LexisNexis this year in the U.S. and Britain show a high degree of interest, but also apprehension, among lawyers. Nearly nine in 10 were aware of generative AI and most felt it would have a noticeable impact on the law. More than a third had already used it and sizeable majorities agreed it increased efficiency and could be used for a range of tasks.”
Read the full article here: Lower fees, fewer lawyers and disruptive startups: Legal sector braces for impact from ChatGPT