All About AI - Part 4 - Future-proofing Your Practice
Join our host, Toby Rosen, in the last episode of our current set of episodes on AI in the legal space. We're talking about future-proofing your practice by creating an innovative culture, and plotting your course towards AI integration.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to Legal Marketing 101. I'm Toby Rosen. Today we have arrived at episode four of our AI series, Future Proofing Your Practice. And this is going to be the last episode on AI for a little while. But this series has been fairly short. And we're going to be changing topics a little bit again next week for our Thursday episode. But fear not. We will be bringing back AI closer to the end of the year, right after the AI development moratorium ends and we've got a little bit more to talk about. AI is very much still rapidly developing and in the time it takes me to prepare, record, and then publish these episodes for you guys, I'm guessing a big chunk of what I'm saying is actually already old news. That's really just to say that while we are going to move on from this AI stuff, it's really not over. You shouldn't stop working on it. You shouldn't stop paying attention. And there's going to be a lot of really cool stuff in the AI universe in the next few months. So stay engaged. But let's get back to future proofing your practice. And I've really covered the first step to that, which is again, staying engaged and starting to make a plan. Imagine your law firm is a ship setting sail into the vast sea of AI possibilities. And before you embark on this voyage, you have to chart your course. You can't just leave port without knowing where you're going. So first, we want to start by understanding with AI that it isn't a one size fits all solution. Start with an assessment of your current processes and current workflows and all the things that are bothering your team. Where are the bottlenecks? What tasks are most time consuming or repetitive or prone to errors? These are the areas where AI is going to make the most significant impact for us. And once you pinpointed these areas, create a prioritized list of AI implementation projects. Focus on the quick wins, the low hanging fruit that will help demonstrate the value of AI to your partners and your stakeholders and actually improve things for your clients. This could mean little things like automating parts of document review or elements of legal research or even big things like contract analysis. But what you need to do is spend some time evaluating with the actual dollar value of each process being automated is. What are the hours saved and what are the software costs or development costs that we are actually incurring? As you gain confidence and experience and learn how these pieces work, you'll start to tackle more and more complex projects that have multiple elements inside. But AI adoption isn't just about this technology. It's about mindset and change management within your team. One that AI is a new member of your legal team. One that has this really unique ability to augment all different types of your firm's capabilities. It isn't competing with someone or anyone. AI is really just here to help us take our operations into overdrive. But this isn't necessarily a realization your team is going to have overnight, and that's what's important. And perhaps you're lucky, and perhaps your team is incredibly forward thinking, quick to adapt to new tech and they'll just take the ball and they'll run with it. But that's not always the case. And getting a group of people to actually execute your ideas, as you know, it's not always easy. So we need a little bit of a roadmap here. And this isn't everything. But the six steps I'm going to go through will help put you on the right path. So grab a pen and take some notes. The first step is education and training and really just having a discussion. Start by providing some comprehensive training or even some basic training to your legal team. Let them know what AI is, how it works, what the potential applications are, both within the legal domain and within their lives and within the marketing domain particularly. Investing in this education is really vital because not only is it difficult to understand what AI is, the technology here is continually evolving. So having a strong basis in the fundamentals is going to put your team on the right track to implementing new projects and having new ideas. Number two is championing your AI advocates. You need to identify the people within your firm who are champions of the AI cause. These people who are early adopters or they're passionate about AI or technology, you wanna get them to be the champions of this for the rest of your team. Their enthusiasm is gonna inspire others and their interest in it is gonna help get more people interested And hopefully they'll be able to help teach your team how to use this within their processes. What we're really trying to do is create a team that is working together to implement things instead of just everything coming from the top. And number three, and this is really to that point, is collaboration and cross-functional teams. You need to encourage collaboration between your lawyers and the rest of your team, your front office, your sales, your marketing, your billing. Everybody wants, should work together and they want to. They wanna have that contact. You can also form some cross-functional sub-teams or they include people within different departments. You can even call them task forces if that makes people excited. Having these small teams can lead to innovative solutions for particular problems or it can lead to better teamwork. The insights your team has from their day-to-day interactions with clients and from using your existing systems is going to be one of the top things you need to look at when you're deciding what to do. If your employees hate something, change it so they like it and they'll do it more. Number four is experimentation and learning from failure. And this is an easy one really, because we all know that failing is kind of a good thing when we're developing, but understand that not every AI initiative is gonna succeed on the first try. And especially when things are in this early stage, they're gonna be kind of frustrating. So keep experimenting and embrace this culture that is not only trying new things, but that's learning from the failures and talking about them. These failures are often more valuable than successes and they are what's going to lead us to better strategies. But number five, and again, this is sort of the ethos of everything here, is to clearly communicate. Not only the benefits of AI, but the benefits for the individuals. Address any concerns about job security. People are really up in arms about AI taking jobs. And for most firms, that's not what we're trying to do. We're not trying to cut head counts with AI. What we're trying to do is get more efficiency out of the team we have, because we like the people we have. They're a good fit. They do their jobs well. And we can use AI to enhance, not replace the people who work in our companies. And number six, and this is something that's going to become more and more important. It isn't as important today, but as we get into some of the things we talked about in episode three of this series, when it comes to decision-making, and when it comes to technologies that are directly interacting with clients outside of marketing, you need to think about ethical considerations. And not just think about them, but have an open discussion about the implications of the AIs that you are using. You wanna have guidelines and policies, but you can't just make these up on your own. You'll need to have a broader understanding of how these AIs are interacting with clients and how your team is using them so that you can create guidelines, policies, and ensure that this AI is being used responsibly and ethically at every stage. Future-proofing your practice through AI integration, it requires pretty careful planning and the cultivation of this AI-friendly culture. It's important that we really define AI as a partner, not as a competitor, that is going to amplify our capabilities and not be a disruptor that threatens our practice or, again, any particular person's job. But it isn't all training and roses. We do, unfortunately, need to look into another exciting and crucial aspect of our AI integration journey, collaborating with the right tech partners and choosing the right tools and vendors for long-term success, which is where most of us want to go. But the reality is collaboration is the key to staying ahead of the curve. Your tech vendors can be your allies. Providing, they can provide you with the tools and the expertise you need to harness the full potential of AI, or they can be your nemesis, just like with any of your marketing. They can foil your plans for success at every turn. So these vendors, you wanna look for partners in that AI voyage we talked about. You wanna set sail in the right direction and you wanna do that with them together. And so there are a couple of really key factors when we're looking at our AI partners. So the same way that we have to define our objectives for building AI and integrating it into the practice, we wanna define our objectives before we go and seek out our legal tech partners. What specific problems are we trying to solve and what outcomes are we aiming for? Having this clear vision is gonna help you identify the partners that are aligned with your goals and is gonna help those partners have a clear understanding of what you're working with now so that they can hit the ground running. But next, you wanna look at the scalability of the tools and the solutions. Will they grow with your firm as your AI capabilities evolve? Will the vendor you're working with be able to support you if you have 20 or 50 or 100 attorneys? Look for partners who have this long-term vision and can adapt to your needs. And try to take a look at the track record of the vendor in question. It might be hard to see a long record of AI development, but a record of performance in general, either from the company or for the team, tells you that you're working with someone serious. And working with a serious vendor is important because the sensitive nature of the data that we're working with in the legal world, we really need to prioritize partners who put a premium on data security and compliance. And we don't want to worry that they aren't adhering to the industry standard protocols that we need to comply with or with relevant regulations for our state or our market. And there may be some gray areas here, but like any new industry, it's usually pretty clear, pretty quickly, who's on the up and up and who is kind of pushing the boundaries. And beyond that, we're just getting into the typical considerations when it comes to tech. We have to find some balance between cost and potential ROI, and we want to work with companies who provide really comprehensive support and long-term assistance and hopefully training programs. Choosing the right partners for AI, like any partner for illegal tech stuff, is not one size fits all. I've said that a couple of times, and that's one of the challenging things here. When we're talking about how this works specifically, it's gonna work differently for you than it does for the next guy. But this is an endeavor that will require experiencing some frustration. There's gonna be some hiring and some firings, and there's probably gonna be some credit cards spent. Because every firm is unique and every client is unique. And expecting any one of these off the shelf solutions to work perfectly out of the box just isn't reasonable. But the decisions that you make when choosing your partners for your AI adventure will play a role in the success of your efforts, even if they're just stepping stones. You wanna make sure your visions are aligned. This is just the most critical part of winning this game and understanding how these things grow. Having a partner that understands that growing and changing is key, that's what we're looking for. So before we wrap up the first chunk of our AI episodes, I just wanna leave you with one thought because AI is gonna develop a lot more and you need to talk to your team about it and you need to make them feel comfortable with it. So remembering this and continuing to adapt to grow and change as AI changes will serve you well. AI is not a threat. It's an opportunity. That's it for Legal Marketing 101. Check out rosenadvertising.com for more. Thanks.[MUSIC]