Week in Review (April 14)
05 March 2024

CLI Week in Review (1 March)

Published on 05 March 2024

As you all know, we have been working away in the Legal GenAI space for a while now. We’ve jumped into this the way we do most things, with a focus on collaboration, connection and community. We’ve also been experimenting with different ways to learn, share, and support legal’s collective journey in this space.  

This week, we rolled out our Future Law, Future Focussed Lab: Legal Generative AI – The use cases on 27 February in Melbourne. We bought together around 70 lawyers, legal educators, consultants, legaltech developers/vendors and allied legal professionals from law firms, legal departments, corporations and higher education institutions. We spent a day together learning, understanding, and applying legal generative AI in legal practice…I’m still buzzing!  

Future Law, Future Focussed Lab event

We began work on the Lab with the objective to design and deliver an event that mattered. This was never going to be an off the shelf product, we wanted to build the shelf! It was also fundamentally important that we bring together as many stakeholders in the legal ecosystem as we possibly could - different backgrounds, approaches, and capabilities - so discussions would be informed/informative and lead to solutions that reflected a heightened level of collaboration.

Before the Lab, participants were surveyed to ascertain which emerging legal generative AI use cases they wanted to learn about. We also asked them to share their experience level with generative AI. This laid the foundation for us to develop relevant, practical use case scenarios that were tailored to the needs of participants. It also helped us create a complementary learning experience.

To make sure we were all jumping off from a common landing place at the Lab, participants were assigned carefully curated pre-reading homework – just a few hours - and advised we would use ChatGPT 3.5 to develop their solutions on the day.

The day was broken into two parts:

  • Morning session: focussed on fundamental workings and concepts of generative AI with presentations from Tae Royle, Director, Client Solutions, Ashurstand Peter Campbell, Head of Legal Product Lab, Allens. This session concluded with tech demonstrations of Lexis + AI from LexisNexis (Seeta Bodke/George Kalamiotis), Microsoft CoPilot (Mario D’Silva) and Thomson Reuters CoCounsel (Catherine Roberts/Ziggy Cheng).
  • Afternoon session: was a deep dive into four legal generative AI use cases: document assembly, document review, summarisation and legal research/knowledge management. The use cases were explored through scenarios developed and written for the Lab by Lisa Kozaris, Chief Innovation and Legal Solutions Officer, Allens; Caryn Sandler, Partner + Chief Knowledge and Innovation Officer, Gilbert + Tobin and CLI Advisory Board Co-Chair; Tae Royle; and Amber O'Meara, Innovation Lead, MinterEllison with advice and contributions from Hilary Goodier, Partner and Co-Division Head, Ashurst Advance and CLI Advisory Board member and Neil Cook, Legal Operations Director, ComputerShare.

We closed the Lab with a large group debrief and key takeaways facilitated by Melissa Lyon, Executive Director & Experience Designer, Hive Legal and CLI Advisory Board member, who also acted as our MC for the day. Here are the key takeaways from that session:

  • It’s all too much to handle, or is it? It’s easy to get lost in the overwhelming amount of information available. It’s also tempting to grab for the next new shiny tech thing and be done with all of it! Moving forward is a combination of the two: you have to engage NOW with tech but not at the expense of or before you identify what the problem is – the end result may lead you to a solution that uses no tech, uses the tech you already have, or having to build or buy something new. There is a delicate balance to be struck with all resources – human and financial being two that are front and centre.   
  • Start with what clients want! Legal businesses can make good use of tech to improve their own internal efficiencies, effectiveness, insights, etc. but when the tech is turned externally for clients, it has to support/enhance what clients need, want, and expect from their legal services/product/solution providers.
  • Mapping processes can help identify and prioritise. Mapping a process from end to end will help chunk out what needs to be done, identify what needs to be solved, and work out what tech/AI is needed (if any). This can also help with prioritising pilots, experimentation (deploy and review) and inform/create best practices in e.g. build/buy decisions (having tested the tech, confirmed its need, and being then confident it can be immediately used in the solution).
  • Knowledge management first then tech. Getting your knowledge management in order, is a critical first step before launching into using the tech. If you don’t know what knowledge you have, it is going to be near impossible to navigate, interrogate, and collate it with/through something like generative AI without it costing a lot of money.
  • Multidisciplinary team collaboration is essential. The capabilities required to deploy this tech require a number of different specialists working together e.g., lawyers, data analysts, legal ops professionals, legal technologists, tech developers/vendors, innovation/transformation professionals, knowledge management professionals, learning and development specialists, and many more.
  • We MUST engage with the tech. There is no substitute for rolling your sleeves up and getting into experimentation with the tech. Policies, protocols and guidelines need to support and guide this too. This tech is impacting our work, redefining value (read here billable hours vs value billing AND knowledge vs experience), changing who we compete with, and our risk management portfolio. Put simply, the tech is a catalyst and enabler for changing legal business models.
  • The change management piece is huge. The depth and breadth of the change ahead in legal is huge. It’s coming at a time when people are already change fatigued. Legal leaders have to find a way to embed continuous change and adaptability, engage their teams in it (bring them along), and avoid burn out – it’s not easy!
  • Everyone is at a different point in the legal GenAI journey. That’s important to remember in the engagement and change piece. If you want to bring the whole firm/organisation along, you have to cater to everyone but, also be willing to address/resolve what to do with those who won’t engage.
  • Don’t under estimate the value of peer to peer learning. Collaborating and learning together is powerful….and enjoyable! You see the gaps in your own knowledge in real time, can evaluate them, and learn/immediately improve. Learning prompting together is a great example.
  • Getting the balance right. Understanding and applying generative AI is going to take time but, the pace of change right now is blistering. We have to identify all the factors, work out and strike the right balance between remaining competitive (keeping up or ahead) and understanding what could be lost from going too fast (humanity).
  • We may have to rebuild from scratch! We have to be open to the possibility, which may be our new reality, that legal practice will need to be reinvented i.e. innovation/transformation may not be enough.

The legal generative AI world did not stand still this week but, for about a day, it almost did! I was reminded, in amongst all the tech, that the absolute best thing one can do is spend a day filled with generosity, curiosity, camaraderie, friendship, candid exchanges, vulnerability, learning, and sharing i.e. humans just hanging out with humans – we had that day this week and…we moved the needle on the tech and the legal transformation stuff too!

Don’t forget, CLI is in this space for the long run and, if you are too, please:

If we can assist in any way, please connect with us at CLI@collaw.edu.au.

BTW, our parent organisation, the College of Law Australia has collaborated with Law Squared on a fab one day in-person foundational workshop in legal ops so if you are new to this, do think about this as a starting point. There is a fee and CPD points available for the workshops. They are open for registration now in Melbourne (19 March) and Sydney (21 March).


Terri Mottershead

Executive Director

Centre for Legal Innovation at the College of Law