Law firms need to start work on Version 2.0 of their legal business now - ​Rob Aberdein

I recently spent some time in the Middle East on business. It’s always an energising place to go, and there’s a huge amount of opportunity and infectious ambition on display.

The expansion plans of both the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) are exciting and if you are unfamiliar with The Line at Neom in Saudi Arabia, it’s a linear smart city currently under construction, which is designed to have no cars, streets or carbon emissions. It’s no exaggeration to say they are building the future.

When contemplating this, it struck me that we have reached a milestone in legal services where we need to not only reimagine the future of our industry but to start building that future now. The increasing maturity of AI, and Large Language Models (LLMs) in particular, and their rapid learning capability, means that we will shortly see a huge paradigm shift in professional services.

Designing your new law firm

​Rob Aberdein is Chief Commercial Officer at Progeny​Rob Aberdein is Chief Commercial Officer at Progeny
​Rob Aberdein is Chief Commercial Officer at Progeny
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

If further urgency were needed, we only have to look at the telecoms sector in the UK, where BT CEO Philip Jansen recently announced they’d be reducing their workforce by 55,000 by 2030. Jansen said "There is a sort of 10,000 reduction from that sort of automated digitization, we will be a huge beneficiary of AI. I believe generative AI is a huge leap forward. Yes, we have to be careful, but it is a massive change."

Open AI has been around for some time, there was Chat GPT 2 and 1 before Chat GPT 3 but the sophistication of AI and LLMs have now reached a level where they have real world business potential. If you think this is just a passing craze, consider that Microsoft have exclusively licensed OpenAI’s GPT-3, giving them access to the underlying code, which they will embed across their ecosystem.

For companies like Microsoft and BT there is a huge opportunity to use AI to be more efficient, just as there is for law firms. If law firm managing partners and committees aren’t already designing ‘Version 2.0’ of their legal business, by 2030, they might not have one.

Profound change

AI will profoundly change society but for law firms, the use of humans for transactional or task-orientated work will greatly diminish. Autonomous Agents (AAs) will take on many of the tasks that we see administrators, paralegals and less experienced lawyers doing today.

A great example could be client onboarding where AAs will own the entire process, including escalations. Much of the research trainees undertake will also be done by AI, as will transactional legal services such as remortgages or volume litigation.

Many support services in law firms will also be unrecognisable, with entire marketing campaigns or communications strategies being run by bots.

Tech reaching maturity

Why are we seeing such a flurry of activity in AI now? Because the technology is reaching a maturity point that makes it useful, reliable and affordable. Organisations with the IT resources and capital will begin reimagining and then building ways of working we haven’t greatly deviated from for decades. These will provide commercial and service-level advantages that will make traditional model law firms uncompetitive.

For many law firms, the legal profession in Scotland and globally, it really is the beginning of a new world.

Rob Aberdein is Chief Commercial Officer at Progeny



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.