As the legal industry rapidly evolves, mass tort law firms are increasingly looking to streamline operations with technologies like artificial intelligence (A.I.). However, the integration of A.I. into legal practices requires careful planning and strategic implementation. This article explores five best practices that leaders of law firms should consider to effectively leverage A.I. in their critical workflows.
1. Effective A.I. Training: Ensure Accuracy and Reliability
A.I.’s effectiveness is dependent on how well it is trained for your specific needs with quality data, with the outputs verified for quality and accuracy. For law firms, generic A.I. tools like ChatGPT may lack the nuanced understanding needed for specific litigation types. Particularly in mass torts, the precise review of medical records is critical. A.I. should be trained on extensive medical data, including diagnoses, treatments, pharmaceutical names, and their respective synonyms, misspellings and abbreviations. Poorly trained A.I. software are susceptible to the “hallucination” phenomenon, where A.I. fabricates facts or false citations. When selecting A.I. software, inquire about how extensively it was trained to your specific area of law and whether it adapts to human input for enhanced future performance.
2. A.I. as a Support, Not a Substitute: The Importance of Human Oversight
As with other technologies, A.I. should assist, not replace, human decision-making, especially in legal practices. While A.I. can perform complex tasks swiftly and accurately, the practice of law hinges on the interpretation of facts and language in specific contexts. A.I. in law should primarily handle repetitive or labor-intensive tasks, such as extracting key evidence from medical records or automating work product creation like settlement packets. However, all A.I. outputs must be validated by trained professionals to ensure reliability and accuracy, just as human-performed work. Avoid technology solutions that keep the A.I. operations hidden, or in a “black box,” from the user. Knowing how the software is making decisions will help train it to improve in speed and accuracy.
3. Risk Assessment: Balancing A.I. and Existing Processes
Legal processes inherently carry risks of errors, omissions, or even breaches of sensitive information. Understanding the frequency and severity of these risks in your existing workflows will help determine if an A.I.-enabled process affects your risk profile. Properly implemented, A.I. can maintain or reduce risks by minimizing human errors due to fatigue or inexperience. Ensure that your A.I. process includes rigorous oversight and validation to match the reliability of entirely manual processes. Assessing an A.I. software’s risk should also include reviewing how and where your client data is stored, what the software does with that data, and how easily it is to delete sensitive information if the law firm is no longer engaged with the client.
4. Strategic A.I. Implementation: Piloting and Parallel Processes
Integrating A.I. into established legal operations can be challenging. To evaluate A.I.’s efficacy, consider piloting it on a small-scale project or running it alongside current processes. This approach allows the firm to assess A.I.’s impact on accuracy, speed, and quality without disrupting existing workflows. A pilot project could involve a limited number of client records or a preliminary research project. Running parallel processes, though more labor-intensive, provides a direct comparison between traditional and A.I.-assisted methods.
5. Dedicated A.I. Implementation Team: Ensuring Smooth Transition
Introducing A.I. necessitates process changes and potentially alters daily roles and responsibilities. Establish a dedicated team or task force to evaluate the A.I. software and develop new processes. This team should pilot the A.I. with actual client work, either on a small scale or in parallel with existing operations, to assess the technology’s strengths and weaknesses. By doing so, the firm can make informed decisions about permanent process changes without disrupting ongoing operations.
As mass tort law firms navigate the complexities of integrating A.I. into their practices, these five best practices offer a roadmap for a smooth and effective transition. By focusing on specialized training, human-A.I. collaboration, thorough risk assessment, strategic implementation, and dedicated oversight, firms can harness the potential of A.I. to revolutionize their legal operations while maintaining the highest standards of accuracy and reliability.