Tony Thai and Ashley Carlisle of HyperDraft, return to The Geek in Review podcast to provide an update on the state of generative AI in the legal industry. It has been 6 months since their last appearance, when the AI Hype Cycle was on the rise. We wanted to get them back on the show to see where we are on that hype cycle at the moment.
While hype around tools like ChatGPT has started to level off, Tony and Ashley note there is still a lot of misinformation and unrealistic expectations about what this technology can currently achieve. Over the past few months, HyperDraft has received an influx of requests from law firms and legal departments for education and consulting on how to practically apply AI like large language models. Many organizations feel pressure from management to “do something” with AI, but lack a clear understanding of the concrete problems they aim to solve. This results in a solution in search of a problem situation.
Tony and Ashley provide several key lessons learned regarding limitations of generative AI. It is not a magic bullet or panacea – you still have to put in the work to standardize processes before automating them. The technology excels at research, data extraction and summarization, but struggles to create final, high-quality legal work product. If the issue being addressed is about standardizing processes or topics, then having the ability to create 50 different ways to answer the issue doesn’t create standards, it creates chaos.
Current useful applications center on legal research, brainstorming, administrative tasks – not mission-critical legal analysis. The hype around generative AI could dampen innovation in process automation using robotic process automation and expert systems. Casetext’s acquisition by Thomson Reuters illustrates the present-day limitations of large language models trained primarily on case law.
Looking to the near future, Tony and Ashley predict the AI hype cycle will continue to fizzle out as focus shifts to education and literacy around all forms of AI. More legal tech products will likely combine specialized AI tools with large language models. And law firms may finally move towards flat rate billing models in order to meet client expectations around efficiency gains from AI.