Are General Counsels Ready for AI Adoption?

Are General Counsels Ready for AI Adoption?

Industries across the economy are adopting artificial intelligence, and for general counsel (GC) this means staying ahead of the curve or risk getting left behind. We’ve seen explosive growth in the AI market, both in investment and technological progress.  While this brings a host of challenges—from data privacy compliance to optimizing integration—AI systems pull their weight for organizations that are sitting on otherwise unmanageable volumes of data.

The truth is that most organizations find themselves with more data than they can handle. We’re collecting massive quantities of data, but without a tool to parse it, we leave most of its value untapped. Even if there are insights to gain or issues to uncover, people simply can’t keep up with so much data. Meanwhile, traditional software-defined search and organizational methods only take us so far.

Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, excels at data processing. In this way, AI brings value to GCs by automating the rote work of going through troves of data, whether it's for drafting and analyzing contracts, conducting legal research, document review, or other similar tasks that still overburden legal teams. By offloading these repetitive tasks to computers, corporate legal departments and their outside counsel get to spend more time on high-level work that adds value to their companies. 

A Quick Guide to AI

Artificial intelligence is any computer system that executes tasks without being explicitly programmed to do so. Basically, AI refers to ‘thinking’ machines that can perform cognitive tasks like reasoning or intelligent design. While we’re still far from true AI, we’re making quick progress, especially when it comes to Narrow AI systems that can perform single, specific tasks.

Another key term is machine learning (ML), a group of AI technologies. While most software precisely follows instructions coded by programmers, ML uses algorithms and data to generate its own instructions. Buzzword technologies like neural networks and deep learning are examples of state-of-the-art ML.

For our purposes, it’s also important to understand natural language process (NLP). This includes voice-assistant tech like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, but we can use NLP for much more than searching the web, sending text messages, and online shopping. For example, at Text IQ we develop NLP products for enterprise use-cases that involve analyzing petabytes of data which involves multiple languages, including short-text such as chats

At a technical level, what sets us apart from other NLP solutions is our unsupervised learning and self-supervised learning approaches. Most ML and NLP tech relies on thousands of office workers to label data so that the algorithm ‘knows what it's looking for,’ but our approach utilizes unstructured data to bypass this laborious process.

For all its capabilities, the main takeaway is that AI is nowhere close to human-level intelligence. This technology can process data much quicker and more cheaply than people, but it cannot perform high-level tasks like strategic planning. AI is a tool that we can use to make better decisions by getting a clearer perspective on our data.

How AI is Transforming Law Practice

When the information age brought unprecedented data volumes, many lawyers were forced into the unsavory role of manually sifting through piles upon piles of documents. Thankfully, that’s starting to change.

As AI capabilities continue to improve, it is able to reliably outperform humans in certain kinds of low-value work. And, with ever-increasing data volumes, the value of automating large-scale understanding, like AI, increases as well. While this may be bad news for law firms focusing on billing hours for tedious tasks, it is good news for lawyers and firms looking to apply their subject matter expertise and interpretation to give advice and make the hard calls. 

Let’s dive into some specific applications. While lawyers have used “smart” programs for eDiscovery, predictive coding, and Technology Assisted Review (TAR), keep in mind that Text IQ’s AI is not TAR! Our NLP technology has a few key differences that are crucial for privilege and responsiveness review.

First, our unsupervised learning models require much less initial input than these older technologies. Not only does this simplify and speed up the launch, but it also protects us from errors and inconsistencies. Basically, instead of telling the AI to search for certain words or names, the algorithm figures it out on its own and picks up misspellings and other factors that are easy to miss. This directly translates into results: 100% recall rate means nothing slips through the cracks.

Comparing this to the lower recall rate that we see from TAR, Scott Reents, Lead Attorney in Data Analytics and eDiscovery at Cravath, Swaine, & Moore LLP said at a recent Inevitable event, “Most people would say that 80% recall is probably a pretty good outcome for a TAR process. When it comes to privilege, an 80% recall would be totally unacceptable. If I were to go to one of our clients and say, ‘Great news! We only produced 20% of your privileged material in this litigation,’ I have a feeling I probably wouldn’t work for that client much longer.”

Besides simply reviewing documents, GCs use Text IQ’s AI to take their automation one step further with automatic redaction and privilege logging. Again, this solution is a major improvement over the status quo because it knows how to find private or privileged information on its own and can then redact it and/or log it.

While it’s still a best practice to double check an AI’s redactions and document review, automating the first pass is a big deal. It saves a lot of time and money.

In addition to using AI, general counsel also needs to carefully consider their response to AI. With regulations like GDPR and CCPA carrying severe penalties for failed compliance, businesses have to be careful about how they collect, store, and use data, especially sensitive data like personal health information (PHI). Corporate counsel is leading this response by developing information governance (IG) strategies that ensure data privacy and compliance.

What a General Counsel Needs to Consider

Before you start integrating AI into your workflows or developing a response plan, make sure to consider these key factors. First, data quality is everything. We get out what we put in. So, not only do we want to make sure that our training data is accurate and comprehensive, but we also need to check it for biases and prejudices, or we risk baking them into our automated systems.

Second, transparency is a cornerstone of responsible AI. To remain accountable and reduce the risk of litigation, we need a clear view into the AI’s decision-making process. We need to be able to say in plain terms what our AI did and why it did so.

Lastly, we need to make sure it’s secure. As we mentioned above, privacy and compliance are foundational to data rights, and that all starts with cybersecurity. That’s why we need to make sure to follow best practices for digital hygiene and prioritize secure IT infrastructure.

Will AI Replace Attorneys?

The short answer is no.

As we’ve seen, AI is great at certain tasks, but it falls short on many fronts. Artificial intelligence can’t interpret the law. It can’t provide counsel or business advice. And it can’t manage the big-picture overview that GCs provide to help their companies navigate through today’s complex landscape.

As Scott Reents says, “[AI] allows lawyers to focus on what lawyers do best, which is to make those judgement calls and do the legal research, and not what they are overpriced to do, which is mechanically doing the same thing over and over again. That's what technology is good at. There's a natural symbiosis there." 

Ultimately, AI isn’t so different in application than other programs that you already use, such as email, Excel, and Word. It’s just another tool that helps us to be more productive.


Whether you’re already beginning to implement AI solutions into your office’s systems or you’re considering your options before taking the plunge, having a basic understanding of what AI is, how it works, and what it’s good for will be even more crucial as we move forward. Knowledge is power. Understanding AI gives us the foundation that we need to put that knowledge to work.

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s hard to keep up with all the latest innovations. However, we will do well to keep in mind that this technology aspires to the greatest tool we know, the intelligence that we already possess.

At Text IQ, we believe that using AI to augment human intelligence lets us achieve even greater things. Want to learn more? Reach out to us.