Filevine CEO Ryan Anderson phrased this sentiment more diplomatically, but we’ll cut directly to the chase here.
Lex Summit 2023, the fourth annual Filevine customer show, kicked off with opening remarks from Anderson, and because it’s a conversation about legal technology in 2023, it didn’t take long before the ChatGPT talk.
“AI will replace lawyers…” Anderson said, making me visibly cringe against my best efforts. Thankfully, he was slow-playing the audience and resolved the tension a moment later. “… who fail to adapt with it”
The discursive battleground over artificial intelligence tends to play out over the first half of that claim. Which is too bad because the contest between the AI Harold Hill promising a fully autonomous attorney and lawyers swearing that AI will enter their firm over their dead bodies is stupid.
Adaptation provides a better frame for discussing AI. Begin from the premise that AI will be in the legal space and start considering how the profession should police the risk of algorithms getting ahead of its abilities. “AI is not the last thing, it’s just the next thing,” Anderson explained, comparing AI to the introduction of computers. Just as the generation who grew up on book research and gumption have faded from the market, anyone who fails to figure out how to integrate AI into their practice will fall behind.
But for the moment, the onus is still on the vendors to build the right AI tools for lawyers to use. “AI is best when it has a platform to learn on,” Anderson noted, highlighting where the real action is going to be in legal AI development. Algorithms are impressive, but ultimately pedestrian without reliable data. Recall the feedback loop of stupid ChatGPT fell into when it tried to figure out who wrote Obergefell.
Mastering the “garbage in” problem will be challenge that defines the next few years for AI. Platforms, like Filevine, that best leverage the data it can collect through documents, data storage, communications, and tracking workflows, will define how successfully AI joins the world of lawyering.
And, ultimately, how the attorneys who can’t be bothered to learn new tricks exit the world of lawyering.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.