How to use AI-powered legal technology responsibly

How to use AI-powered legal technology responsibly

AI tools are becoming a core component of in-house legal work – but to leverage their value safely, responsible use is paramount. Follow this simple guide to ensure that your procurement and use of AI is grounded in responsible principles. 

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to be a transformative force across multiple industries, it’s offering huge opportunities for accelerated growth and innovation – and the legal industry is no exception.

AI-powered legal technology has the potential to revolutionize and streamline the way in-house legal teams work, from integrated contract data extraction and contract redlining tools to e-discovery and more.

However, with great power comes great responsibility. As AI becomes increasingly embedded in legal workflows, ensuring responsible use is paramount – both in your choice of vendor and in the way that you approach deployment.  In this article, we delve into why responsible procurement and use of AI-powered legal tech is essential if you want to leverage this technology to its fullest potential.

What is responsible AI?

“Championing responsible AI principles is far more than ‘the right thing to do’ for corporate legal teams – it’s a must.”

The concept of ‘responsible AI’ broadly refers to the legal, ethical and fair use of AI technologies.  The majority of us are already familiar with the headline risks most commonly associated with AI – from bias and transparency to privacy concerns. While frameworks are still being developed globally to manage the mammoth task of AI regulation, there are a number of universal principles which are now widely accepted as being necessary to ensure that AI is designed, developed, and deployed responsibly.

For legal teams, using AI responsibly means understanding the potential risks that come with any AI tools that you might adopt – and ensuring that your own use of these tools aligns with legal, ethical and organizational standards, particularly when it comes to accountability, fairness and transparency.

Why should legal teams care about responsible AI?

Championing responsible AI principles is far more than ‘the right thing to do’ for corporate legal teams – it’s a must. As AI becomes a mainstay of legal work, the reality is that our legal tech buying decisions now have a more significant impact than ever, on everything from internal systems of work, customers, and stakeholders to long-term reputation and business outcomes.

Here’s why every in-house legal team should care about using AI responsibly:

Risk management

For most legal teams, AI is fast becoming a core component of daily workflows. But without clear frameworks and policies in place to ensure these tools are being used in the right way, you risk opening the door to harmful use and regulatory liability. Guardrails are essential if you want to reap the benefits of AI whilst mitigating the risks.

Stakeholder management

Championing responsible AI is as much about setting minds at ease as it is about establishing guardrails. If your stakeholders aren’t convinced that your technology investments and systems of work are safe, secure and reliable, this will undermine implementation efforts and could have serious knock-on effects for the rest of your organization due to erosion of trust.

You can alleviate internal stakeholder concerns around AI by fostering a culture of responsible use – and by demonstrating a commitment to addressing and incorporating stakeholder feedback into your organization’s AI strategy.

Competitive advantage

If you want to keep up with the market, there’s no longer any doubt that getting left behind on AI will put you at a distinct disadvantage. According to a recent Accenture report, From AI Compliance to Competitive Advantage, market leaders who are using AI are generating 50 percent more revenue growth than their competitors.

However, embracing AI is only half of the story. One of the key factors driving the success of early adopters is not simply that they are leading on AI, but that their approach to this technology is responsible by design. Prioritizing responsible use from the outset of your AI journey will fortify your competitive position as a trusted and reliable function – not one which just adopts technology for the sake of it.

Increased knowledge sharing

By encouraging a shared understanding of responsible AI practices, you will enable better cross-collaboration between your legal team and other departments across your organization, which will, in turn, strengthen the value that you collectively gain from your tech investments.

Future proofing

By taking the time to make informed investment decisions and keeping responsible use at the forefront of your AI strategy, you will ensure that the competitive advantages you gain from this technology are sustainable over the long term.

Once you appreciate the myriad of human, legal and commercial advantages that come with a responsible approach to AI, it’s time to put this into practice through your own adoption strategy.

How to choose responsible AI-powered legal technology

When choosing legal tech vendors as part of your preparation for in-house legal AI, consider the following key factors to ensure that their products and services align with your organization’s commitment to responsible use:

  • Accountability: Look for vendors who can demonstrate a clear willingness to take responsibility for their AI solutions, whilst having clear procedures to respond to any errors or harm that may arise as a result of their use.
  • Transparency: Vendors should provide clear information detailing how their AI solutions function and make decisions (including how they will utilize your legal team’s data sources) in a way that is easy to understand and interpret.
  • Bias mitigation: It’s critical to establish that prospective vendor AI systems are fair, and that they do not discriminate or unfairly disadvantage individuals or groups based on characteristics such as ethnicity, gender, religion or status.
  • Security and privacy: Always verify that prospective vendors are safeguarding their AI systems against unauthorized access, manipulation and vulnerabilities, and that they are implementing measures to protect data and information in accordance with regulations (for example, through data privacy frameworks and policies for data collection and usage).
  • Reliability: Look for vendors who can demonstrate that their AI systems are grounded in robust technology platforms which perform consistently and accurately. This will include having tools for repeated testing, validation and monitoring.
  • Certifications: Look for vendors with relevant certifications, such as ISO 27001, ISO 42001 or other AI-specific certifications to ensure they adhere to established standards and best practices.

If this information is not readily provided by prospective vendors in the form of certifications, policies and governance documentation, they should be able to provide it on request.

How to use AI-powered legal technology responsibly

Once you have made smart AI investment decisions which are grounded in responsible use on the vendor side, it’s time to make sure that you are implementing this technology responsibly across your own legal function. Here’s how to deploy your AI tools responsibly:

  • Build a culture around responsible AI: Start by aligning responsible AI principles with your core organizational values to reflect your commitment to responsible AI to your employees, customers and society.
  • Internal governance: Establish and regularly update an internal AI governance policy for the development, deployment and use of AI technologies. This should include ongoing oversight of systems to ensure compliance with security, privacy, ethical and legal standards – for example through regular audits and impact assessments.
  • Education and training: Hopefully, as part of your AI preparation and adoption strategy, you will have chosen a transparent vendor which sets you up with a strong understanding of the AI solutions that you are using, and how your data is being processed. Build on this foundation within your organization by providing continuous education and training on the role that colleagues can play in using these systems responsibly.
  • Choose the right use cases: Identify responsible and proven AI use cases for in-house counsel which are fit for purpose and which focus on user needs. For example, relying on generative AI as a legal search engine without human intervention may not be considered responsible. However, using AI to automate manual tasks, such as using AI for contract management or invoice extraction, represent well-established and low-risk use cases for legal teams.

Ready to start using AI responsibly?

By placing responsible use at the center of your AI strategy, you will make more robust investment decisions and set yourself up to leverage this technology sustainably as your legal function evolves.

One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by investing in AI tools which come as part of a consolidated solution purpose-built for legal teams, such as the LawVu legal workspace.

To learn more about how a workspace approach is one of the most reliable ways to adopt responsible AI, book a demo now.

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