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Artificial Intelligence

Making the business case for AI: Five starting points

· 5 minute read

· 5 minute read

Several tips for acquiring and incorporating AI-based tools into your firm's processes

Generative AI (Artificial intelligence) offers tremendous potential to transform both legal practice and the business management of law firms. Whether you’re already convinced of AI’s contribution and impact on the legal industry, or you’ve just been tasked with exploring the use of AI at your firm, we can help.

Consider the following model, as outlined below.


Jump to:

bulb icon   1. Explain generative AI

icon   2. AI drives efficiency

  3. Enhanced work product

pennant icon   4. Assess the risks

  5. Determine your ROI



1. Explain generative AI

A valuable tool for automating a variety of tasks, generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that creates content from scratch. One well-known example is ChatGPT, a large language model that processes vast amounts of text to create new text based on identified patterns.

Although large language models can be very helpful for drafting and creating, they require human input to determine whether the new content can be trusted and how best to interpret it.



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Survey of various AI topics and terms

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While many legal professionals have reservations about adopting the latest AI technology today, many see its potential value.

According to a March 2023 Thomson Reuters survey, more than one in three large and medium law firm professionals in the US are considering generative AI for their practice. And more than 80% of legal professionals surveyed said there are ways the technology could be applied to legal work.


2. AI drives efficiency

Law firms are always competing for clients and talent. At the same time, they want to grow and maximize profits per partner. Inefficiency can hamper these efforts.

Clients expect their firms to deliver superior work and representation and do it in an efficient way. In addition, new associates arrive at firms expecting automation to minimize their repetitive tasks and minimize mistakes. Legal AI tools can help by automating certain tasks to boost a firm’s overall efficiency and accuracy.


3. Enhanced work product

Firms can improve both legal practice and business management with the use of generative AI. Law firms are still figuring out all the ways to leverage generative AI, but a majority of firms already use some of the best AI for legal research, according to a 2020 Thomson Reuters AI survey.

These firms cite increasing efficiency and saving time as key benefits. And when AI solutions are grounded in a trusted data set, those benefits can apply to creating legal work product as well.

How analytics help make the business case for AI

On the business side, clients and potential clients will likely expect firms to be more tech savvy in the future and use all the latest solutions like generative AI.

Firms can train AI-based analytics on their operational experiences. That can help with uncovering your strengths, weaknesses, and competencies to help in assigning attorneys to cases and proving your track record to potential clients. You can also use this data to identify patterns involving time and costs to improve client relationships and pricing structures.

Generative AI can also help reduce time spent on clients who push back on hours billed. Although this may result in reduced short-term revenue, demonstrating your efficiency to clients will help maintain your firm’s long-term health and relationships.


4. Assess the risks

Many legal professionals are rightly concerned about the risks associated with using generative AI in their work. Accuracy and privacy are two major issues that must be addressed as you present your business case for AI.

To decrease risk, you should avoid using specific client information in prompts and select a platform that does not collect or claim ownership of your queries. You also need to make sure that the AI model is drawing from a trusted source when your team is using it for legal research or drafting.


5. Determine your ROI: What’s the payoff?

Because we’re still in the early stages of generative AI tools, quantifying ROI and the impact of AI in law firms can be a challenge. Your ability to make a business case for AI will improve with insights gained from the data reported by early adopters.

In the meantime, look at how your firm measures the success of tech initiatives. If it focuses on efficiency, usage, and contribution to revenue or profit, you can quantify ROI in several ways:

  • Calculate time saved on non-billable hours that can be converted to billable hours
  • Convert usage statistics into a percentage of billable hours
  • Correlate time saved on routine tasks to increased job satisfaction and employee retention
  • Show increased client satisfaction and likelihood of retaining clients who can see your commitment to efficiency and accuracy


Preparing to make your case

When it comes to AI and the future of law, the industry is likely on the cusp of a revolution. Making a business case for AI at your firm will help ensure that you stay competitive and don’t get left behind.

To become even better prepared to make your case, read our white paper, The business case for AI at your law firm, which elaborates on additional topics such as:

  • Timeframe and implementation
  • Preparing to deliver the business case
  • Bringing it all together



White paper thumbnail — Business case for AI White paper

The business case for AI at your law firm

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