3 takeaways from the Future of Professionals Report on generative AI
|Generative AI can help improve client communication
|Generative AI can help legal professionals with work-life balance and mental health
|Generative AI can improve overall efficiency and productivity at work
2023 might go down in history as the year of artificial intelligence (AI) — or, at the very least, AI hype.
Generative AI tools — those that take a user prompt and produce copy or imagery using data on which they had been trained — dominated front pages and workplace conversations for months. While they aren’t perfect and may never be, generative AI tools hold enormous potential for professionals in almost every industry. That includes law.
If you have tinkered around with generative AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Google’s Bard, then you likely have thought about whether you can use them in your practice. The answer is “yes,” just with some significant caveats.
In its Future of Professionals Report on generative AI, Thomson Reuters took a look at AI’s very impressive capabilities and outlined how they can be put to use. In this post, we will look at three of the most significant suggestions for attorneys.
Common concerns about generative AI
Before we go any further, it would be prudent to share some reminders about generative AI.
- No type of AI can actually “think.” Generative AI tools seem very smart, but they are prone to spitting out authoritative-sounding answers that are wrong or misleading. Therefore, it’s imperative to critically and carefully evaluate any response that an AI tool gives you.
- Material generated entirely by AI can’t be copyrighted. It has no human author, and that’s a long-established bedrock principle of copyright law. In the next few years, it will likely be determined how much human intervention is needed to give an AI-generated first draft copyright protection.
- AI can pose risks to data privacy. There are still many issues surrounding privacy and security in regard to AI, so it’s wise to avoid entering any information that could be considered sensitive or confidential.
With those considerations in mind, let’s turn to the Future of Professionals Report for lessons that can be applied to law firm marketing.
Generative AI can help improve client communication
A common client criticism of lawyers is that they do not communicate well enough or in a timely manner. For small law firms and solo attorneys, this probably stems from having a heavy workload, which can put prompt, substantive, and empathetic client communication on the back burner.
With the correct prompting, generative AI tools can do very well at providing a suggested response to, say, an inquiry from a new client. As the Future of Professionals Report notes, many people find reviewing and editing easier than drafting something completely new, so client communication is one area where an AI-generated first draft would save time and ease workloads. Many generative AI tools do quite well at coming across as warm and polite, and most clients appreciate such correspondence.
Generative AI can help legal professionals with work-life balance and mental health
Lawyers are notorious for over-prioritizing work. It typically comes from a good place — after all, what client wouldn’t want an attorney who takes their matter seriously? — but far too often, that mindset can affect one’s well-being and lead to burnout.
Using generative AI to trim away time-consuming work can make time and space for attorneys to take on more creative, intellectually challenging work. It can also allow for more time to spend with family and friends. If more time for personal needs does not sound like a compelling reason to incorporate generative AI into your workflow, remember that your clients and loved ones need you to be the best and fullest version of yourself — and that requires a certain amount of time and prioritization.
Generative AI can improve overall efficiency and productivity at work
The Future of Professionals Report suggests that while just about everyone is keen to see how AI can be used to save time and effort, most people are skeptical that it can be trusted to do a good job on the most important things. That being said, generative AI can take care of many smaller, lower-priority tasks that can be a strain on your productivity and efficiency. Imagine a workday where your smaller tasks are taken care of — what would you do with the time that frees up? Many attorneys would use that time to do a better and more thorough job on higher-value work. You could also have the opportunity to be more proactive, either by pursuing new work or immersing yourself in the kind of work you do best.
Generative AI has improved and changed within the year it shot to the forefront of public attention. Furthermore, ideas for how to best use and regulate it are still being formed. There’s no doubt its role in the workplace will continue to evolve, but there’s equally little doubt that it will help professionals do their jobs better and faster, too.
Download your complimentary copy of the Future of Professionals Report to learn more about its findings.