At the General Counsel and Compliance Strategy Forum held recently in Oxfordshire, I had the opportunity to share some of Wolters Kluwer’s expertise on artificial intelligence (AI) for legal departments. My presentation focused on the benefits AI can bring to legal operations and how best to capture its value.
As I related to the audience, AI in the legal environment has evolved from the frequent subject of interesting side projects to an important means of achieving strategic goals. For years, it seemed there was a lot of interest in AI but no clear path to actual ROI. As a result, few legal departments used it.
Today, however, there are some AI-enabled applications that offer demonstrable value to legal teams. We are beginning to see integration of these tools into the core business operations of corporate legal, and adoption continues to accelerate. For those corporate legal and claims organizations exploring the possibilities, there are a few points to keep in mind when seeking to generate value from AI.
AI Drives Real Value and Improved Outcomes
There are three core benefits of leveraging AI in a legal or claims department:
- Insights – When a sizable, reliable data set is available – usually from a spend and matter management solution – AI tools can provide dynamic, detailed reporting to help you understand the drivers of your legal and business results, along with predictive analytics to help you make better decisions for today and the future. Teams can use these insights to better achieve their organization’s strategic vision.
- Cost – Because AI can analyze vast data sets and recognize patterns humans alone can’t see, it can identify new opportunities for cost savings and drive the greatest value from a spend management program.
- Time – Time continues to be every professional’s most scarce resource. When you bring AI to bear on tasks that are otherwise time-consuming or repetitive, you free up your legal professionals to focus on higher-value activities. This lets you leverage the expertise of your team where it is most valuable and drive better employee engagement and fulfillment as the team works on less mundane tasks.
What sort of activities are best suited to applications of AI? We know that not all parts of legal or claims management are the right places for these tools, and getting the most value out of your investment relies on choosing wisely.
- Ample, clean data: An ideal AI workflow is one with lots of accessible data that is usable and relevant to the task at hand. If the activity does not generate that sort of historical data, AI is limited in its ability to make good recommendations or decisions.
- Tactical use cases: AI is not a strategy, but a tool to help achieve a strategy. Use it to accelerate or enable a strategy, and it can streamline the tactical needs of your organization to achieve strategic goals or free up resources to achieve them. Examples include eDiscovery, contract management, and bill review.
- Teams that are ready for change: The introduction of AI tools is best suited to teams that are open to change and have a role in guiding it.
Combine AI and Big Data with Expert Oversight
You need good data – data that is “clean,” accurate and relevant – for input into the chosen AI solution. It is also critical to have an ongoing virtuous cycle of data to provide feedback on where the AI was correct, identify new patterns, and allow the system to “learn” in order to create increasing value.
Use cases like legal bill review are an excellent example of the power of combining experts with AI. The AI empowers bill reviewers to find every opportunity of non-compliance, and the expert feedback drives ongoing acceleration in the AI’s performance over time.
At Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions, we have built our LegalVIEW® BillAnalyzer solution as this “best of both worlds”: a machine learning model that works in tandem with expert legal reviewers. The AI finds patterns and unlikely combinations, benchmarking against an expansive invoice database to drive accuracy and consistency in legal bills. Then, a team of experienced legal professionals uses the AI findings to perform review and manage law firm relationships. This managed service has delivered up to 5x the cost savings of traditional invoice review conducted by legal departments. It continues to be so effective because learnings are integrated back into the AI technology for end-to-end continuous improvement.
How to Drive Value with AI Tools in Your Workflow
Look for AI tools that do not require users to go outside their normal workflow. Users are far more likely to engage with solutions that fit within and enhance their usual work practice – and that’s important. Unless users are willing to put a solution to work in the way you intended, you simply can’t achieve your desired ROI. You want your users to use the tool because that’s the only way it improves. Minimizing change in how they work will help you do so.
Change management can be daunting for teams. Improving the way your department works takes time and effort but, when done well, offers rewards to both the bottom line and the team’s job satisfaction. When you consider big changes, ask yourself how ready your team is and whether they have an appetite for new technology. If they aren’t quite there yet, empower them with a voice in the change. Their input on how they work will be key to successful adoption.
It was good to see that so many GCC Strategy Forum attendees, as well as other presenters, were interested in AI and how to leverage it for legal operations. AI has the opportunity to drive value for legal operations professionals in real and tangible ways and is positioned to do so as adoption rates rise. Keep the focus on your business goals, instead of excitement for the technology, and AI can help legal and claims professionals worldwide continue to add further value.