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Canadian Law Firms Embrace Generative AI: A Paradigm Shift for Legal Profession

Canadian law firms are diving headfirst into the world of generative artificial intelligence (AI), recognizing its transformative potential both for internal operations and client services. Major firms like Gowling WLG, Borden Ladner Gervais, and Osler Hoskin & Harcourt have assembled high-powered teams to oversee the integration of generative AI into their work and are actively exploring the technology’s impact and opportunities.

For Ginerva Saylor, Gowling’s Canadian director of innovation and knowledge programs, generative AI represents both risks and rewards. She emphasizes the importance of finding a balance between mitigating risks and seizing the opportunities it offers. While some fear job loss due to this fast-moving technology, Osler Hoskin partner Sam Ip believes that AI will not replace lawyers but rather, lawyers who harness its power may replace those who don’t.

The transformative potential of generative AI lies in freeing up lawyers from mundane tasks, allowing them to focus on strategic and creative aspects of their work, thus delivering more value to clients. To ensure a smooth transition, law firms are cautious and have set guidelines, emphasizing the need to test the technology internally before using it in client-facing work products. Education is a key element in this process, with programs designed to familiarize lawyers with the technology’s workings, benefits, and limitations.

The technology presents a learning curve for both law firms and their clients. Law firms have established advisory teams to address concerns related to copyright, privacy, and confidentiality. They assist clients in setting up guardrails for using generative AI in areas such as intellectual property and employment law.

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However, staying on top of this rapidly evolving technology can be demanding. Leaders at firms like Borden Ladner find themselves dedicating extra time to keep abreast of the latest developments in the field.

Overall, Canadian law firms view generative AI as a paradigm shift in the legal profession, offering both challenges and tremendous potential. By strategically integrating this technology, law firms aim to enhance efficiency, deliver higher-quality legal advice, and stay at the forefront of innovation in the legal landscape.

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