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AI is moving beyond a mere tool to become a pivotal element in the training and practice of law. This transformative force is challenging traditional methodologies and shaping a new era in legal education.

At the recent SpotDraft Summit, an enlightening conversation happened between Brian Chase, General Counsel,

ServiceChannel, and JP Son, Chief Legal Officer, Verbit, revealing the profound impact of AI on legal training.

They shared their insights, discussing how AI is not only automating routine tasks but also demanding new skills and competencies from lawyers. This shift is creating a ripple effect through legal education and professional development, challenging traditional training models and opening doors to innovative learning pathways.

This discussion forms the backdrop of our exploration in how AI is reshaping lawyer training. Let’s delve into the current state of AI in the legal profession, examine its implications for lawyer training, and see how legal professionals can adapt to thrive in this AI-integrated landscape.

The rise of generative AI and its impact on legal training

In the legal arena, the tide is turning, and it's being powered by AI. We've seen trends come and go, but AI? It's the real deal, transforming how future lawyers are trained.

AI isn't just an add-on; it's becoming the core of practicing law. Did you know that 44% of tasks within legal could be automated by AI? That's almost half of our industry stepping into the future.

Gone are the days when legal training was just about poring over casebooks and shadowing senior attorneys. Today, it's about mastering the AI toolkit. Law firms are getting ahead of the curve, integrating interactive online courses that demystify AI. These courses are turning lawyers into AI-savvy professionals ready to tackle tasks from predictive analytics to automated legal briefings.

Indeed, the shift is monumental. Today, training for new lawyers includes mastering digital collaboration tools and honing their virtual client consultation skills.

Also read: Exploring AI in Legal Operations

Shifting the focus from traditional to tech-savvy training

In the realm of law, tradition has long been a guiding star. Historically, law firms have prided themselves on molding attorneys who are paragons of technical excellence. 

This training model, deeply rooted in age-old practices, emphasized rigorous study of case law, statutes, and the art of argumentation. The outcome? Lawyers who were masters of legal intricacies but often found themselves navigating a world that was increasingly out of sync with technological advancements.

Today, the legal landscape is undergoing a seismic shift. The advent of technology in legal is a fundamental change in how law is practiced and legal services are delivered. 

Drivers of change: client expectations and complex legal environment

Why this shift? The answer lies in the growing complexity and dynamism of the legal environment. Clients now demand faster, more efficient services. They seek attorneys who are not only legal experts but also proficient in leveraging technology for better outcomes. 

This new demand calls for lawyers who are comfortable with legal tech tools, from electronic discovery and legal research software to data analytics and artificial intelligence applications in law.

The need for tech-savvy lawyers also stems from an agility standpoint. The legal issues of today are not the same as they were a decade ago. Technology has introduced new legal challenges and areas, such as cybersecurity law, privacy issues, and intellectual property disputes in the digital realm. 

To effectively navigate these, lawyers must be agile learners, continually updating their skill set to stay relevant and provide the best counsel.

Also read: What is an AI legal assistant?

The importance of 'human' skills in the age of AI

“Generative AI will not replace lawyers. In fact, it needs humans to stay involved, especially when used for legal work. To start, the bar will not allow AI to replace us; the practice of law will require humans in some capacity no matter what. Second, you must validate everything it spits out, another reason why the bar won’t allow AI to replace lawyers (see below for more on the problems with ChatGPT and ethical obligations). Third, ChatGPT does not understand context, nor can it discern whether it is being used to come up with the answer the user wants vs. the correct legal answer (i.e., right vs. wrong, but also, as Charles Spurgeon said, right vs. almost right). Only people can do that.”

~ Sterling Miller, CEO of Hilgers Graben PLLC

Ten Things: ChatGPT and Generative AI (What In-House Counsel Need to Know)

While AI is increasingly taking over grunt work, the emphasis on 'human' skills like creativity, humility, and emotional intelligence has become more critical than ever. Here's how these skills are gaining prominence:

#1 Creativity and problem-solving

Each legal case can present unique challenges that may not fit within the standard parameters of AI algorithms. Human lawyers can craft creative solutions tailored to specific circumstances, drawing from their experience, intuition, and legal expertise.

#2 Humility and adaptability

The legal profession is rapidly evolving with technological advancements. Embracing AI necessitates a mindset of continuous learning and adaptability. Lawyers need to stay updated with the latest technologies, understanding their applications and implications in the legal field.

#3 Emotional intelligence and client relations

“Clients hire an attorney for the attorney’s knowledge, experience, and ability to interpret and apply legal precedent”.​​

~ Joel Murray, Attorney, McKean Smith LLC
Generative AI and the Law

While AI can assist in identifying relevant laws and cases, it cannot replicate the empathetic and personalized counsel that human lawyers provide. The human aspect of guiding and advising clients, especially in complex and personal matters, remains a domain uniquely suited to emotionally intelligent human attorneys.

#4 Supporting decision making

AI tools process data and provide options based on programmed algorithms, but they lack the ability to apply human judgment. In complex legal scenarios, lawyers must evaluate nuances, understand client intentions, and consider broader legal implications, which AI alone cannot do.

Also, law often operates in gray areas where clear-cut answers are not available. AI may provide data-driven insights, but it's the lawyer's responsibility to navigate these ambiguities, applying both legal knowledge and human intuition.

Also read: Will AI Replace In-House Lawyers?

Law firms are adopting innovative training models

In response to the evolving legal landscape, law firms are increasingly adopting innovative training models to equip their attorneys with the necessary skills and knowledge. These adaptations include:

#1 Blended learning programs

Law firms are incorporating blended learning, combining traditional in-person education with online modules and interactive digital tools. This approach offers flexibility and accommodates diverse learning styles.

The online components often include webinars, virtual workshops, and e-learning courses on emerging legal technologies and soft skills.

#2 Self-directed training programs

Encouraging self-directed learning, law firms provide resources for attorneys to pursue individual learning paths. This might include access to online legal databases, AI tools, and technology training platforms.

These programs empower lawyers to update their skills in areas like AI applications in law, data privacy, and digital compliance as per their own pace and interest.

#3 Role of in-person training

Despite the rise of digital learning, in-person training sessions remain crucial. They play a significant role in building firm culture and fostering personal relationships among colleagues.

In-person training sessions, such as workshops, seminars, and mentorship programs, facilitate direct interaction, which is vital for developing negotiation, litigation, and client communication skills.

#4 Integration of practical experiences

Practical, hands-on experiences are being integrated into training models. This includes participation in mock trials, client consultations simulations, and pro bono work to provide real-world experience.

#5 Continuous professional development

Law firms are focusing on continuous professional development, recognizing that the legal field is constantly changing. This includes regular updates and training sessions on the latest legal developments and technological advancements.

Also read: How Generative AI is Transforming the Legal Tech Landscape

Revolutionizing legal education at the university level

The need for a paradigm shift in legal education is increasingly recognized by universities, as they adapt their curricula to include broader skill sets beyond technical competence, particularly in AI and ethics.

#1 Expanding skill sets beyond technical competence

Law schools are quickly adapting to the need for additional educational resources around generative AI to prepare the next generation of legal professionals​​.

Georgetown Law, for instance, is at the forefront of this change, offering at least 17 courses addressing different aspects of AI​​.

#2 Incorporating AI Ethics into legal education

AI's impact on the legal profession is profound, changing the structure of the profession and legal procedures. This has led to the introduction of courses like “Artificial Intelligence, the Legal Profession, and Procedure” at Yale Law School, focusing on the implications of AI tools on law and legal practice​​.

The course at Yale Law School constantly raises important ethics issues, underlining the need for understanding the ethical dimensions of AI in law​​.

Harvard University also offers a course on "Data Science and Artificial Intelligence: Ethics, Governance, and Laws," focusing on the ethical and legal aspects of AI and data science. This course highlights the critical need to understand the value trade-offs in AI and the responsibility of AI professionals in ensuring fairness, privacy, and security​​​​.

Preparing for a new generation of legal professionals

The legal industry is experiencing a paradigm shift, largely influenced by the integration of AI and automation. This transformation is not only changing how legal work is conducted but also reshaping hiring trends and the skill sets required for legal professionals.

New hiring trends

  • Increasing demand for tech-savvy legal professionals: This demand goes beyond basic computer literacy to encompass a deeper knowledge of how AI tools can be applied in legal contexts.
  • Shift from traditional qualifications to diverse skill sets: Proficiency in AI, data analytics, and an understanding of automation tools are becoming as important as traditional legal qualifications.
  • Redefining the legal role: Firms are not just looking for legal experts; they want professionals who can leverage technology to enhance efficiency, accuracy, and innovation in legal services. This shift is creating new roles within law firms that blend legal expertise with technological acumen.
  • Adapting to new technologies: Law firms are not only valuing candidates who are familiar with current AI technologies but also those who show an aptitude for adapting to emerging technologies. 
  • Emphasis on continuous learning and development: Candidates who demonstrate a commitment to staying abreast of the latest legal tech trends and advancements are highly valued.
  • Cultural fit and soft skills: Firms are looking for individuals who can not only work with advanced technologies but also effectively collaborate in increasingly diverse and dynamic team environments.
  • Ethical understanding of AI use: This includes an awareness of the potential biases in AI and the ability to navigate the ethical dilemmas that can arise from AI use in legal contexts.

How can you become an AI-ready lawyer?

Engage in continuous learning: Continuous learning is key to staying relevant in the AI-integrated legal environment. Attending webinars, industry conferences, and networking events can provide valuable insights and knowledge​​.

According to Ken Priore, ex-Director of Privacy, Atlassian, you can rely on the following sources to stay up to date about legal developments, regulatory changes, and industry-specific topics, ensuring you are well-equipped to navigate complex legal landscapes and provide valuable guidance to your organization.

  • IAPP (International Association of Privacy Professionals)
  • Fieldfisher Law Firm
  • Regulatory Organizations
  • LinkedIn
  • Podcasts

Participate in training programs: Law firms are offering comprehensive training programs that cover technology skills as well as broader expertise required in the modern legal landscape​​. Junior lawyers could benefit from training programs that balance foundational legal knowledge with practical, hands-on experience using AI tools​​.

Leverage AI for career advancement: Automation tools like SpotDraft can enable you to focus on strategy and client interaction, taking away the grunt work like redlining and tracking contract renewals, and facilitating career progression​​. Use these technologies to expand your skills and gain a competitive edge in your career.

Navigating the AI-driven transformation in legal training

The legal profession is standing at the cusp of a revolutionary change driven by artificial intelligence (AI). From altering hiring criteria to demanding continuous skill development, AI is reshaping the foundational aspects of legal training and practice. 

As these changes continue to unfold, they present both challenges and opportunities for current and aspiring legal professionals. We're eager to hear your thoughts on this transformation.

  • How do you perceive AI's role in changing the foundational training for lawyers? 
  • Do you see these developments as a leap forward or a potential challenge for the legal profession? 

Your insights are invaluable to us, and we would be thrilled to feature your opinions in our upcoming newsletter

Please share your thoughts by sending us an email at matthew@spotdraft.com. Your perspective will contribute to a broader understanding of how AI is influencing legal education and practice.

Additionally, if you're intrigued by the possibilities that AI brings to the legal sector, we invite you to experience SpotDraft firsthand. 

SpotDraft is at the forefront of harnessing AI to streamline legal processes, offering solutions that are changing the way legal professionals work. By booking a demo with us, you'll get a closer look at how SpotDraft can revolutionize your legal operations, enhance efficiency, and empower your legal team. 

Don't miss this opportunity to be part of the AI-driven future of law. 

Request a demo!

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