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Legal Futurism: Pioneering Innovation with Sam Moore

Updated: 3 days ago

Explore the cutting-edge intersection of technology and law with Sam Moore, Director of Innovation at SkillBurst Interactive and Scotland's pioneer Accredited Legal Technologist. In our conversation, Sam delves into the transformative potential of Generative AI in legal practice.

From simplifying complex legal concepts for diverse audiences to reshaping traditional workflows, Sam elucidates how AI is revolutionizing communication and streamlining processes. He advocates for a balanced approach between off-the-shelf and bespoke solutions while emphasizing the evolving skill sets needed for legal professionals to harness AI effectively.

Join us as we uncover the exciting frontier of legal innovation with Sam Moore!

In what specific areas of legal practice do you see Generative AI making the most significant impact today, and what potential benefits does it offer in these domains?

I think the most impactful use cases I’m seeing so far have to do with explaining complex issues in accessible terms. Whilst it’s undoubtedly powerful to leverage AI for complex legal research, we as an industry are already good at that. Where we can sometimes fall short is communicating complex issues in an accessible way, often for different audiences. An attorney will explain a legal issue to their client differently than they will argue it in Court. Generative AI is very good at taking a rough draft of what you want to say, taking some guidance on who the audience is, and responding with a different way of expressing that information. I’ve seen litigation attorneys ask an AI tool to re-write a memo with a 9th grade reading aptitude, and they’ve then taken that simplified version and built it back up to an appropriate level of detail. That communication piece is very compelling. Also consider that the majority of client complaints to law firms tend to revolve around poor communication. Applying AI can help with that too, by providing a level of proof reading and feedback which can help surface blind spots and ambiguities in instructions. I find that very compelling, because it goes to a core challenge in our industry – clear and concise communication. I’m most excited about use cases which don’t try to improve on something we already do well, but instead try to improve something we probably fall short on as-is.

Can you share examples of how Generative AI has already reshaped traditional legal workflows or processes? What are the implications of these changes for legal professionals?

One example I’m seeing is changing how an attorney gets the first draft of a briefing note, or a contract provision, from their head onto the screen. In the past they might have spent time researching prior examples, looking at firm precedents, or consulting with peers. These are still valuable approaches and still appropriate, but I’m also seeing attorneys use Generative AI to brainstorm that starting piece. Instead of beginning to type a clause or an argument and see how it comes out, they might describe the desired outcome to an AI and ask it to propose a starting point. It will almost never get the ideal wording out of the gate, but it’s always easier to edit and critique something rather than nothing. That’s an interesting change to many legal workflows – using AI to get you started, and then leveraging your traditional tools and techniques over the top. What that means for training is also huge – it means rethinking how a junior associate learns the fundamentals of their practice area. It means expanding beyond writing 1000 NDAs and instead having an interactive experience of putting one together in a simulated environment, with live feedback and support. It’s the difference between learning to parallel park your car by doing it alone 50 times, versus having an instructor sit in the car with you to talk you through it, so you get it right in half the time (or faster!)

How can legal firms balance the use of custom Generative AI solutions tailored to their specific needs versus leveraging off-the-shelf LLM solutions? What factors influence this decision-making process?

The balance between off-the-shelf and bespoke has always been important when buying technology for law firms, in part because most applications out there are not specifically or exclusively made for us. Even a leading legal tech product might have a bigger market share in corporate clients than law firms. I think getting the balance right begins with an acceptance that we as a buying community are not as big as we might think, so we have to accept compromise. The harder part is identifying the difference between essential features and ‘nice to have’ features, i.e. where is the compromise acceptable and so doesn’t actually need to be ‘bespoked’ away. That takes a set of skills which a legal technologist or legal analyst can bring to the table, so my first answer to the broader question is ‘you need to put the right people in a position to influence those buying decisions’. After that, the success or not of a solution can come down to proactive and consistent feedback from your users. That requires effort and commitment, so this in turns requires a culture where continuous improvement applies to workflows and processes as much as it does to people. And finally, getting it right also means being willing to change your mind. This technology is moving so incredibly fast right now that it’s possible, even likely, that the functionality you need will change in the short term.

As Generative AI becomes more integrated into legal practice, what new skills and competencies do you believe legal professionals will need to develop in order to effectively harness the power of these technologies and navigate potential ethical and legal implications?

This question is perhaps the most important of all! The skills and competency matrix of a successful legal professional today is very different than it was 5 years ago. If you could jump ahead another 5 years, it will likely be different again. So at the core of that success has to be flexibility and a willingness to change. You need a flexible and adaptive core, around which you branch out and add competencies. I think people get too hung up on specific new skills like ‘should all lawyers learn to prompt?’. The more important questions are things like ‘what value do you offer that an AI can’t replicate?’ and ‘how do you build trust and rapport with a client so that they trust you in the age of AI?’. So to a large extent, the skills you need aren’t new at all: empathy, listening, communicating, collaborating etc. But the fact that AI can’t do these things (yet!) makes it all the more important to make sure you can. I like to think of this as ‘being uniquely human’. But in terms of newer skills, ones which perhaps haven’t been so highly sought in our industry, I would be looking to logic and reasoning, project management, and creative problem solving. These are the skills which set you up to make the most of AI tools and augmented workflows, whatever they may turn into.

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