While AI might be seen as the answer to business growth, it’s the power of Human Intelligence that really drives the technology – it’s just happening in a way that you haven’t even considered yet.
AI is, without doubt, the biggest opportunity for businesses today. Whether legal, services, manufacturing, or agricultural, there is little doubt that AI can help your organization improve in some shape or form. The challenge is ensuring that your business is AI-ready.
And by your business, we mean your people. AI is not a standalone technology; it can’t function without the necessary human intelligence (HI) behind it. And in front of it.
AI is an umbrella term for Machine Learning (ML) and deep learning, along with a host of other subsets, such as big data and natural language processing. For this article, we’ll be thinking of AI in terms of ML. This technology is essentially about taking huge swathes of data, organizing and structuring it, and then identifying patterns or anomalies. At its very basic level, ML is about math, statistics, and probability. Given enough data, ML uses those patterns to make predictions that drive value.
All ML and AI start with HI. Feeding the data and training the machine to understand what terms and clauses are relevant, legal experts (ie HI) train the machine to look for values within contracts, for example, names, times, dates, clauses, etc, and what those key terms and data points mean.
With enough data, the machine recognizes those clauses or values when it locates them again within a contract. The more variation of information or contracts the machine has to learn from, the more accurate the extraction will become.
At the back end of the ML extraction, HI validates the data. There is no existing HI that is 100% accurate, particularly in the legal sector. Legal clauses are often purposefully written with ambiguity and the same clauses written in new ways are ignored by the AI, so HI must corroborate the information, and make it actionable.
However, the most important and challenging aspect of your AI adoption and ability to exploit the technology for your organizational success, happens before any of this. The old adage of the 5 Ps (‘preparation prevents piss-poor performance’) has never been truer than with AI.
A recent article from McKinsey sums it up: “Meeting this challenge requires organizations to prepare their leaders, their business staff, analytics team, and end-users to work and think in new ways – not only by helping these cohorts understand how to tap into AI effectively, but also teaching them to embrace data exploration, agile development, and interdisciplinary teamwork”.
But how to reach this utopia of AI appreciation? McKinsey, which has done extensive research in the area, suggests an ad hoc approach lacks long-term viability or the clout to actually help an organization fully undergo a transformation.
Hiring new team members is merely a band-aid – unless you plan to rehire your entire organization. What’s required, according to McKinsey, is broad acceptance, understanding, and capability. External training is great, but doesn’t focus on the specific nuances within your organization that lead to longer-term adoption and understanding.
The answer is an internal “AI academy”, says McKinsey. The key is that these analytics training centers develop an AI-educated workforce with customized content linked to goals, a shared vision, language, and protocols. Effectively, they propel your organization from digitally active to AI-driven.
All well and good for the Magic Circle firms or the US elite practices which no doubt already have these academies in their 2020 plans. But for most other legal firms, this level of investment and commitment to a technology they haven’t had enough time to fully evaluate, is a step too far.
Or is it? The business benefits of AL and ML are already well understood and while a full-blown internal training academy might be overkill, some of the best practices are highly applicable to smaller law firms, keen to maximize the AI opportunity.
Appointing a small team of champions within the legal team who have an interest in, or a good level of understanding of, AI and ML, is a place to start. Developing their knowledge and skills with external training, and then ensuring they apply those skills in-house is the foundation of your ‘academy.’
While scaling this team right across your business might be a lofty goal, achieving broad understanding and acceptance across the legal team is a starting place. Allotting non-billable time for training from your internal champions, and including the knowledge share as a strategic imperative, will aid progress.
McKinsey suggests six areas of best practice that are as applicable to a small legal team as much as a well-funded AI academy:
- Tie training to transformation: what is your AI roadmap today and tomorrow? How can AI help you achieve your strategic, financial, and organizational goals as a legal team? Ensure you have these goals in mind and tie the training to this strategy.
- Leave no role behind: from legal admin to lead litigator, everyone in the team should be involved to ensure comprehensive understanding across the legal team.
- Go behind the math: applying AI isn’t just about stats and technical training. It’s about understanding the culture, strategy, skills, and knowledge needed to make the strategy successful.
- Blend book smart with street smarts: get hands-on experience. Ensure the entire legal team has the opportunity to see how the AI works; use the dashboards and data models, and see the actionable outcomes.
- Energize engagement: celebrate the small wins with your team; keep them talking, training, and strategic. Focus at a pace to ensure even small gains are made.
- Keep it relevant: AI is huge. Don’t try to understand or cover it all – focus on what is relevant for your legal team and achieving your specific AI goals.
Even starting to think about this type of capability building around your AI strategy will ensure that your teams understand the growing importance of the technology. It will also prepare them for the changing face of legal and the impact this is going to have on the future of your organization, your team, and their role.