Best practices for AI change management in legal technology

Integrating AI into everyday working life for lawyers means firms and in-house teams need to adopt a comprehensive change management programme, writes Litera’s Adam Ryan


With the rapid advancement of AI technology, the legal industry is experiencing a transformative shift as law firms and legal departments increasingly turn to AI solutions to revolutionise their practices. 

In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Litera, AI is predicted to be the most adopted technology in the legal industry this year, with 77% of law firms planning to invest in AI technologies within the next 12 months. And, on a broader scale, 81% of executives plan to deploy AI tools this year, according to a report from Puralsight. This adoption of AI is driven by its ability to streamline processes, bolster efficiency and deliver more effective client services.

Effectively managing this change is paramount to the success of integrating AI into legal practices. Amid this evolution, it becomes imperative for law firms to adopt a thoughtful approach to change management. Below, we delve into key best practices that law firms should consider as they navigate the complexities of integrating AI into their operations, thereby ensuring a seamless transition towards a more technologically adept and competitive future.

Understand the technology landscape

Before embarking on the AI journey, legal professionals must invest time in understanding the technology landscape. Familiarity with AI concepts, algorithms and their applications in legal settings is essential. This foundational knowledge will not only facilitate smoother implementation but also empower legal teams to make informed decisions about the AI solutions that best align with their specific needs. You don’t want to be the law firm that sends out a blanket AI ban using Copilot. AI is in almost everything, it’s up to you to decide where you do and don’t want your lawyers leveraging it.

Establish clear objectives and expectations

Define clear objectives for implementing AI in legal processes. Whether it’s improving document review efficiency, enhancing legal research or automating routine tasks, having specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals will guide the implementation process. Real-world examples of how the legal industry is using AI to solve challenges include:

  • Document review efficiency: Legal firms are leveraging AI-powered platforms to streamline document review processes. These platforms utilise machine learning algorithms to quickly analyse large volumes of legal documents, extracting relevant information and flagging potential issues, significantly reducing the time and resources required for manual review.
  • Legal research: AI-driven legal research platforms can provide lawyers with access to vast databases of case law, statutes and legal commentary. These platforms use natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to understand and analyse complex legal queries, helping lawyers find relevant precedents and legal insights more efficiently.
  • Automating routine tasks: Legal departments are increasingly turning to AI-powered tools to automate routine tasks such as contract drafting, review and management. These platforms utilise rule-based systems and machine learning algorithms to generate contracts, identify clauses that require attention and ensure compliance with legal standards, freeing up lawyers to focus on more strategic tasks.

Communicating these objectives to all stakeholders upfront helps to manage expectations and garner support for the AI initiative. Additionally, distinguishing between traditional AI and generative AI applications, such as legal document generation, language translation, summarisation of legal texts and client communication through chatbots, ensures a comprehensive understanding of the potential benefits and limitations of AI adoption in the legal industry.

Cultivate a culture of adaptability

Change is often met with resistance, but fostering a culture of adaptability can mitigate pushback. Encourage open communication and create an environment where team members feel comfortable expressing their concerns and opinions. Providing training and resources to help legal professionals upskill and adapt to new technologies is vital for the success of AI integration. You can even start with a ‘pilot’ group of your most tech-savvy legal professionals. When they see how much easier AI makes their day-to-day, use them to evangelise across your organisation.

Collaborate across departments

Effective change management requires collaboration across different departments within a legal organisation. IT teams, legal professionals and support staff should work collaboratively to ensure a seamless integration of AI solutions. Regular cross-functional meetings and workshops can facilitate knowledge sharing and address any challenges that arise during the implementation process.

Prioritise data security and compliance

Given the sensitive nature of legal information, data security and compliance are paramount. Before adopting AI solutions, legal professionals must ensure that the technology complies with industry regulations and meets the organisation’s data security standards. Implement robust encryption protocols, access controls and regularly update security measures to protect confidential client information.

Provide comprehensive training programmes

Investing in comprehensive training programmes is crucial to equip legal professionals with the skills needed to leverage AI tools effectively. Training should cover not only the technical aspects of the AI solutions but also the practical applications in day-to-day legal tasks. Offering ongoing training and support will help legal teams stay current with advancements in AI technology.

Monitor and evaluate performance

Regularly monitor and evaluate the performance of AI solutions to identify areas for improvement. Establish key performance indicators aligned with your initial objectives and use them to assess the impact of AI on legal processes. Solicit feedback from end-users to make informed adjustments and continuously optimise the technology to meet evolving needs.

Build momentum with end-users

In a landscape rife with fear mongering about the perils of AI, from hallucinations to existential crises, it’s essential to ground ourselves in the practical applications that can genuinely enhance our daily lives. While law firms harness AI to leverage their expertise and streamline routine tasks, the potential extends far beyond the courtroom. Take Microsoft, for instance, whose pioneering initiatives focus on easing the burdens of everyday life. From suggesting actions to summarising meetings, or even prioritising emails missed during absences, AI offers a pathway to not only mitigate fears but also cultivate excitement and efficiency in our day-to-day interactions with technology. Through these tangible applications, users can witness firsthand the transformative power of AI, building momentum towards a future where innovation serves to empower rather than intimidate.

Successfully integrating AI into legal technology requires a strategic and thoughtful approach to change management. By understanding the technology, setting clear objectives, cultivating adaptability, fostering collaboration, prioritising security, providing comprehensive training and monitoring performance, legal professionals can navigate the challenges associated with AI implementation and unlock the full potential of these transformative technologies in the legal field.

Adam Ryan is vice president of product at legaltech company Litera.

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