AI is not a tool to be feared – it can be an important ally in bolstering the advice lawyers offer
This article was produced in partnership with LexisNexis.
Jacqueline So of NZ Lawyer sat down with LexisNexis Pacific Head of Core Product Lindsay O’Connor to talk about how lawyers can harness AI to expand their knowledge base and generate more informed outcomes for their clients.
In recent months, few words have generated more buzz than “ChatGPT”. The AI chatbot, which was launched last November, has since been used in various ways, from generating silly conversations to entire essays and art pieces. The increasing utilisation of AI software has birthed concerns that perhaps technology may truly be able to replace man one day.
For O’Connor, however, AI is not a tool to be feared – rather, it can be an important ally.
“We do not want our AI products and tools ever to replace lawyers. We want to help them to do a better job, to make more informed decisions and to drive those better outcomes for their customers”, she says. “What we're looking at is, how can artificial intelligence help to support our lawyers? How do we actually use it to surface insights, and even to suggest content to our customers that they might have overlooked, or they might not have thought of”?
In spearheading the launch of Lexis Create in March 2022, O’Connor sought to simplify the drafting process for lawyers. But this year, her focus is on going beyond lawyers and looking into what lawyers’ clients want and need.
“For a lot of people, when they go and see a lawyer what they’re really concerned about at that point in time is absolute accuracy. They want to make sure that they're getting the best possible advice, and that's going to drive the outcome that they are seeking”, she explains. “A lot of people seeking legal advice are often quite time poor individuals. And they want interactions with their lawyers to be as efficient and streamlined as possible”.
This is the mindset behind the development of LexisNexis’ Clause Intelligence tool, which sits within the Lexis Create environment and is the company’s “first major AI powered product launch in the NZ market”. It uses AI algorithms to examine the content and clauses within a lawyer’s draft; then, the tool trawls LexisNexis’ bank of legal information to suggest potential alternate content.
“Clause Intelligence helps our lawyers to draw additional insights and enables them to then use their own intelligence and their own legal knowledge and experience to actually make a more informed decision”, O’Connor says.
“We've been exploring for several years how artificial intelligence can provide benefits in developing products and drive improved outcomes for customers. But we've had to think really carefully about when exactly it's appropriate for us to use artificial intelligence, and drafting seemed like one of the key user cases for us to focus on, given the current inefficiencies present in many drafting workflows”.
When building AI powered tools, LexisNexis also benefits from following the Responsible Artificial Intelligence Principles at RELX, such as ensuring that development of all AI systems has a high level of human oversight throughout the development process, including human relevance testing. This helps us to ensure that our tools add real value for our customers.
LexisNexis worked extensively with legally trained individuals throughout the development and testing period of Lexis Clause Intelligence to ensure that the AI was providing relevant content and that it was serving the end-to-end process of drafting.
“A big focus for us over the past year has been building a point of integration across our products and ensuring that a lawyer who is working within Microsoft Word and utilising our Lexis Create tool can now do a search and access practical guidance content without leaving that environment”, O’Connor shares. “We think that it will drive lawyers to consult that information more frequently; they'll remember that they have access to that content”.
She believes that a tool like Clause Intelligence reflects the changing perception of AI from a threat to lawyers to something lawyers can partner with to achieve better client outcomes. In incorporating AI into a lawyer’s workflow, the key is setting a high standard for what AI can achieve.
“AI tools that are developed for the general public – often the requirements and functionality expectations are relatively low. With a lawyer, you are talking to the absolute expert in their field, so their expectations will be incredibly high,” O’Connor explains. “So our development benchmark is significantly higher than any general consumer AI tools. We want to reach a level at which we can say this adds value to our customers – something that works in partnership and complements their legal knowledge and expertise”.
To learn more about Lexis Clause Intelligence product, click here.
Lindsay O’Connor is the Head of Core Product for the Pacific region at LexisNexis. Lindsay studied at the College of Law in London, qualifying as a Solicitor in 2006. Having held several roles in the Legal Technology industry, Lindsay has extensive experience in driving customer-focused development across large product teams. As a former lawyer, Lindsay is passionate about developing products that enable lawyers to work more efficiently whilst also effectively managing risk; in particular, looking at the ability to deliver LexisNexis content at the point of need directly into a lawyer’s workflow.