American Lawyer Media just released a new report which highlights the importance of AI in providing firms with the opportunity for market advantage. The report which is entitled Law Firms Need Intelligence to Stay in the game.” provides a general overview of AI in law. The report costs $299 and can be ordered at this link.

The report was authored by Erin Hichman, Senior Analyst at ALM Intelligence. Hichman has a background in IT and consulting and the report provides an overview of artificial intelligence including, definitions, component technologies and applications.

The report highlights the risks of law firm complacency in ignoring AI  as corporate clients both embrace AI themselves and seek out alternative legal research providers which are leveraging AI solutions to provide legal work at a lower cost. It is sobering to be reminded that some firms have not begun to explore AI solutions. While others mostly large law are engaged in developing internal AI solutions. The majority of firms are in the middle exploring commercial products with an AI component.


Topics covered in the report include:

  • What Artificial Intelligence Is and What is Means for the Law Firm
  • Building Blocks of Artificial Intelligence: data, processes, talent, culture and technology.
  • Current Examples and Maturity of Law Firms Using Artificial Intelligence
  • Roadblocks and Steps to Take for Using Artificial Intelligence.

 AI Products for Business and Practice of Law. The report provides a useful overview of products and applications. However, In the area of legal research I did find it odd that the author overlooked all of the AI initiatives by the major legal research providers Lexis, Westlaw, Wolters Kluwer and Bloomberg Law —And highlighted only the newer market entrants such as Fastcase, Casetext, Ross and judicata. They did mention Ravel Law which was purchased by LexisNexis but overlooked the  significant new  AI enabled offerings from the major players including,  Lexis Answers , Lexis predictive legislation, WESTLAW Answers, Westlaw Edge, as well as such Wolters Kluwer’s AI offerings including their  predictive legislation and regulation platform  the Federal knowledge Center  and their  M&A clause analytics. Bloomberg Law is using AI in their Point of Law and their SEC ALJ analytics It is never possible to include all vendors but It It is a pretty significant Blind spot to miss the advances in ai in four major players.

The Roadblocks and Challenges. The report provides some interesting insights into the cultural, structural and economic challenges of building artificial intelligence in the law firm. Internal development of AI solutions will provide the most fertile opportunities for market advantage. Plug and play AI solutions can only provide a temporary market advantage since they are available to everyone on the market. Custom solutions offer the promise of transformative change and real market distinction – but the report highlights that this will inherently involve some failures. The one issue I did not see addressed in the report was the challenge of getting law firms to make a long term investment in an unproven technologies. Since law firms face relentless pressure to grow profits per partner – there will have to be a strategic financial commitment at the executive committee level to sustain investment in AI through amarket pullback where profits per partner may dip.

ALM Should Now do A Survey

Now that ALM has laid out the opportunities and obstacles related to AI adoption, I recommend that they follow up with an actual survey of law firms in order to quantify the level of AI adoption across the legal market. The AI adoption spectrum chart  is a tease and it begs to be fleshed out with data. If there is one thing that motifvates law firms – it is the shame of being outdone by their peer firm colleagues.