The promise of AI has been around for decades, but it is the last three months that has finally caused an awakening so forceful, that even the legal industry understands it needs to be ready for the upcoming Age of AI. This week’s guest has worked toward that goal of integrating AI and other technologies into the practice of law for more than forty years. Johannes (Jan) Scholtes is Chief Data Scientist for IPRO – ZyLAB, and Extraordinairy (Full) Professor Text Mining at Maastricht University in The Netherlands. He joins us this week to discuss the need for lawyers and law firms to use these tools to enhance the power of the practice of law. And he warns that if the traditional legal resources of lawyers and firms won’t step up, there are others who will step in to fill that void.
While the AI tools like GPT and other generative AI tools have finally begun to be true language tools, there is still a lot that these tools simply cannot do. Scholtes says that there is plenty of legal work to be done, and in fact perhaps more work now that the computers can do most of the heavy lifting and allow the lawyers to do the thinking and strategy.
Scholtes compares the relationship between the lawyer and the technology to be that of a pilot and co-pilot. A relationship in which the co-pilot cannot be completely trusted but can be trained to assist through the process of vertical training. This means that a law firm needs to work with the AI to have it better understand how to process legal information. Having the technology alongside the lawyers provides a stronger legal representation than just the lawyers or the technology alone. In addition to reducing risk and improving outcomes, Scholtes also projects that Lawyer + AI means higher rates and better profitability, while the clients receive better results.
It is exciting to be at the beginning of this change in the way law is practiced. It is important, however, that law firms, lawyers, and legal professionals understand how to teach and control the technology, and that there needs to be transparency in how the tools work and make decisions. His recommendation is that if all you are offered is and AI Black Box, then you should simply walk away. That lack of trust will come back to bite you.
For more insights from Jan Scholtes, visit his blog, Legal Tech Bridge.