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Law Firms Embrace Technology Training Amid Rise of Generative AI

As the legal world grapples with the potential of generative AI, law firms are treading cautiously and focusing on maximizing the use of their existing technology. Rather than rushing to adopt the latest AI tools, many firms are now offering “refreshers” on the resources already at their attorneys’ disposal.

In a bid to gain a competitive edge and boost efficiency, law firms are revisiting their current technology training and ensuring that their employees fully grasp the tools they already have. Edward Estrada, principal and founder of Estrada Legal Consulting, noted that some firms encountered internal resistance to training on new technology because employees were still trying to comprehend the existing tools.

“The lawyers didn’t really understand what they had, and now new solutions were being rolled out,” Estrada explained. This prompted firms to take a step back and prioritize refining the utilization of their current technology before delving into new advancements.

The effort to maximize returns on current technology investments comes as firms consider the return-to-office strategies, seeking to make the most of attorneys’ time in the office. However, some forward-thinking firms are actively exploring cutting-edge AI tools. Kevin Iredell, chief marketing officer of Lowenstein Sandler, pointed out that many firms are focusing their training efforts on understanding platforms like Bard, ChatGPT, Thompson Reuters, and Lexis Nexis.

Smaller and midsize firms are also displaying an appetite for training, especially among marketers and legal operations professionals. Gina Rubel, founder and CEO of Furia Rubel Communications, noted that these firms are proactively seeking training even when their employers don’t provide it.

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But training needs go beyond marketing professionals. Laura Terrell, an executive coach and former DLA Piper partner, emphasized that comprehensive training is required firmwide for staff, associates, and partners. For junior associates and paralegals, who may see certain tasks handled by technology, there’s a necessity for different training focused on analyzing and applying the law to unique case facts.

Terrell also highlighted that partners need training in oversight, accuracy, and firm policy knowledge. She recalled a partner who admitted not knowing the firm’s policy, illustrating that older partners may be less comfortable with technology and may require a more hands-on approach to learning.

While some firms have their in-house training programs, smaller and midsize firms may not have the resources to provide comprehensive training. In such cases, they turn to external services, like those offered by Rubel, to equip their attorneys and staff with the necessary information.

The training offered by experts like Rubel emphasizes the importance of practical use cases for new technologies and delves into the benefits, opportunities, policy considerations, and risks associated with generative AI.

As firms consider their training approaches, some have developed robust programs focused on specific use cases or systems, while others adopt a more flexible, exploratory committee approach. Iredell highlighted his firm’s policy, which encourages exploration and familiarization while setting guidelines to safeguard systems, data privacy, confidentiality, and client information.

Ultimately, Rubel stressed that all law firms must prioritize training in using new technologies and generative AI. She believes that it’s the responsibility of every firm to train all their employees in these technologies and sees a lack of training as a common reason for initial resistance to adopting new tools.

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While the legal industry ponders the potential of generative AI, law firms are taking a measured approach to technology adoption. Prioritizing the optimization of existing tools and offering comprehensive training to employees are key steps in harnessing the potential of AI and ensuring a smooth transition into the future of legal practice.

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