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Israel’s Legal Landscape: Navigating the AI Challenge

The legal fraternity in Israel is currently confronting a pressing conundrum: How to integrate advanced AI into their operations and remain competitive on the global stage. Edo Bar-Gil, the pioneering mind behind Next-Gen Solutions established in 2018, weighs in on this subject. His firm is on the front lines, offering strategic pathways for entities navigating the complexities of digital metamorphosis, knowledge logistics, principled AI applications, and the burgeoning field of legaltech.

While Israel prides itself as the ‘Startup Nation’, promoting innovation at every turn, Bar-Gil has raised an alarm over a palpable deficit in AI integration across its institutional framework.

Speaking candidly to CTech, Bar-Gil remarked, “We are behind the entire world for about two decades. We are implementing tools that the U.S. and Europe aren’t using anymore.” He went on to lament the acute unawareness among Israeli legal establishments about the transformative potential of AI.

Globally, the legal profession has always been seen through a conservative lens. Yet, in Israel, this conservatism is heightened due to stringent operational boundaries, resulting in a slow pace of technological assimilation. Elsewhere, modern legal operations have already adopted tools like document automation, AI-driven legal chatbots, and expansive virtual legal repositories. Additionally, technologies to streamline operations, such as HR software and knowledge management applications, are also taking precedence.

Despite this global trend, a significant portion of Israeli law firms remain untouched by this wave of innovation. Bar-Gil, who collaborates with several law firms, observes a resistance to change, emphasizing, “The status quo is good for them because they are dealing with Hebrew, there is no AI yet in Hebrew, and the billable hour is still effective in Israel – so why should you make a change?”

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Industry predictions by renowned firm Gartner suggest that, in the coming years, non-lawyer personnel will substantially replace generalist lawyers, backed by AI-driven automations. By 2024, a substantial chunk of corporate legal operations could be automated, a milestone that seems distant for Israel unless it embarks on the AI journey akin to its Western counterparts.

In Bar-Gil’s words, “We need to understand as an ecosystem that AI is now fundamental. You cannot avoid this 4th industrial revolution otherwise you will get lost and you won’t be relevant.” His assertion underscores the pressing need to embrace AI across sectors, targeting not just manual jobs but also the sophisticated white-collar positions.

Global leaders are recognizing AI’s paramountcy. President Joe Biden’s proposed AI framework and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s efforts in hosting international AI events exemplify this. On the other hand, Israel, despite the rhetoric from figures like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seems to be lagging, particularly in the backdrop of ongoing judicial reforms.

Highlighting Israel’s AI conundrum, Bar-Gil reflected, “Israel is far behind the world in regard to AI,” emphasizing the irony of leading tech corporations marking their presence in the nation, while many Israeli tech firms contemplate moving offshore.

Concluding his insights, Bar-Gil pointed out that talents like OpenAI’s chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, are Israelis. He passionately asserted, “We have the best brains but we need to make sure we invest time and money in people and provide them with the incentive not to leave the country.” His words serve as a clarion call for Israel to bridge the AI divide and reaffirm its position on the global technological map.

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