What We Heard at Legal Week 2024

Legal Week 2024 was all about AI. The key topics were hallucination, hallucination, and hallucination.
Written by
Jamie Fonarev
Published on
Feb 14, 2024

Last week over 6,000 legal professionals and vendors converged on New York City to spend a week talking about all things legal - learning, exploring the latest tech, networking and more. 

The Eve team had the pleasure of displaying its first booth in the exhibit halls and attending a few of the sessions hosted throughout the week by various speakers. 

Unsurprisingly the word on everyone’s mind right now is AI. More than half of the exhibitors were advertising that their products have AI. And the speaking sessions weren’t far behind. At any given time, there was at least one (and often more than one) seminar or talk about AI for the legal field. 

With a wide audience of big firms, solo practitioners, in-house counsels, government workers, and everyone in between, everyone had an AI solution tailored just for them. We’d be hard-pressed to think of an existing legal tech tool that didn’t have an AI component included, and advertise at LegalWeek - eDiscovery, legal research, translation, time-keeping, you name it - it has AI now. 

But what are people actually saying about AI? Here’s a quick summary of what we heard at LegalWeek 2024: 

  1. Hallucination is the talk of the town. The top concern for anyone adopting generative AI is hallucination - the risk that the AI answers will provide fake, made-up information to its users. Multiple sessions addressed this topic and it was the top objection for vendors on the exhibit floor. Why is hallucination so top of mind? In part, we think it’s because it’s so hard to wrap our heads around this error. No paralegal, or junior attorney will ever bring their partner a fake case, with made up facts. The error is so foreign to us, and for that reason it’s so hard to detect - we aren’t primed to look for it. We expect that generative AI providers are going to have to have very good answers as to how their platforms minimize the risks of hallucinations and how they empower their users to avoid falling into a hallucination trap. Which brings us to the second topic we heard. 
  2. The second fear - how to use AI well? For those that might be a bit farther in the journey towards adopting the new tech, a second and important concern comes up - how will we roll out this technology to users at the firm and ensure that they use it well? Tech adoption is no new issue for law firms and IT departments, but with added risks to poor usage, this question is on everyone’s mind. New tools have to come with education, and people expect to have to change their ways (in an industry that is pretty set in how it likes to work). Same as with hallucination, vendors are going to have to be thought leaders and guides to law firms, making sure that their rollouts are successful. Our two cents, it’s crucial to start slow - the tried and true “crawl, walk, run” approach - is going to come in handy. Vendors need to have a plan, and stay true to it, building up individual use cases, and finding champions in particular departments, before mass-releasing powerful new technology to the whole firm (and having it go unused, or worse, mis-used). 

But even as these two non-trivial concerns are raised, it is exciting to see how much people are digging into the possibilities of generative AI application. Although most law firms are still taking a measured and cautious approach to this new technology, it is promising that we are now addressing the questions of “how” not “if”. We expect providers of AI integrated or AI native technology to step into leadership roles and help assuage the, very reasonable, fears that legal professionals have about adopting new tools. 

We expect that many conferences in 2024 will be centered around this conversation. We predict that by the end of the year there will be a deeper conversation around application of generative AI across multiple processes and workflows, and the future of this new technology will come into focus. 

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