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AI’s impact on legal firms

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is slated to affect almost every aspect of future life and this week, international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills published the results of its research on AI anticipating its impact on the legal practice.
The report, Artificial Intelligence: The client perspective, reveals that clients want their legal providers to focus on collaboration, new ways of service delivery and talent development. The introduction of AI into law firms’ working practices will enable firms to meet these client demands.
Investing in AI technologies seems an obvious strategy for law firms. However, the technology is a means to an end. Clients may not contribute to law firms’ AI investments, but they expect their legal providers to take a lead in offering progressive services and solutions to recast the value gleaned from their relationships. Law firms need to take charge of creating the right mix of human and machine capabilities to recast future relationships that benefit both provider and client.
The research compiles the views of senior clients — including general counsels, chief operating officers and strategy directors — from 22 leading international companies from a wide range of industries, including the financial, insurance, real estate and consumer goods sectors.
The findings suggest that clients have strong views in three distinct areas:
Recast the relationship dynamic: Clients believe that AI tools will lead to greater efficiency and challenge revenue models, but also — and more importantly — drive an enhanced engagement. Clients want their law firms to move beyond traditional transactional lead delivery to a new, more collaborative relationship model.
Embrace new business models: Clients want to know that their legal provider is making the best decisions around innovation, combining new technologies with new ways of working, including collaborating with third parties and challenging existing processes.
Reshape the talent pool: Clients expect that their legal provider can still deliver top human talent as well as take advantage of technology.
“Artificial intelligence is advancing rapidly and is changing the way law firms do business, the way we interact with clients and ultimately, the way we think,” says Mark Rigotti, CEO of Herbert Smith Freehills. “The traditional model for delivering legal services is being redefined and clients expect their law firms to deliver more value. At Herbert Smith Freehills providing legal services aligned with legal technology solutions, remains at the heart of our innovation agenda.”