How to Evaluate and Select the Best AI Option for Your Law Firm

Case Management Software: Embedded or Third-Party AI

This article was provided by our friends at Assembly Software, a visionary software technology firm that blends decades of history and industry experience with next-generation, customer-focused innovation. It brings together two of the legal profession’s pioneering case management brands, Needles and Trialworks, both of which have contributed to Neos, Assembly’s reimagined cloud-based solution. Neos is an innovative cloud-based case management platform that enhances any law firm’s productivity with configurable workflows, embedded AI automation, seamless integrations, and robust BI-enabled analytics.

One way to enhance your firm’s efficiency, operations, and performance is to consider legal case management software (CMS) with AI features. Over the past few years, legal AI has gained more traction and adoption in the legal sector.

In the 2023 LexisNexis International Legal Generative AI Survey, 47% of respondents believed generative AI will have a significant or transformative impact on the practice of law. 

A Thomson Reuters survey conducted in 2019 revealed that many firms were already using AI to automate and speed up legal tasks. Among survey participants who used AI-based tools, 38% were using document automation and 47% were using AI-powered document review to detect errors that legal professionals might overlook when doing the task manually.

The business case for AI-enabled legal technology

While AI certainly has the power to boost firm efficiency, there is a substantial difference between AI embedded in your case management system and third-party AI products which require you to leave your system to reap the benefits. 

In this blog post, we will explore the differences between each and provide actionable tips for selecting the right option for your firm. But first, what is embedded AI?

What is embedded AI? 

Embedded AI means that the AI capabilities are built into the solution itself. Users do not need to exit the platform to use it. If the AI is not embedded, you’ll need to engage with an external platform to use it. 

On the face of things, it seems like embedded AI is the obviously more desirable choice, but let’s explore the benefits and limitations of both approaches and we’ll also provide some tips on how to evaluate and select the best AI option for your firm.

Benefits of embedded AI

Seamless workflows

Embedded AI is baked into your existing workflows in your case management software, so you don’t need to change the way you work. It is there to minimize repetitive manual tasks and eliminate human errors resulting from doing the same thing repeatedly. It is not a replacement for human activity; rather, it facilitates processes and ensures people can focus on tasks that require critical thinking or human interaction that cannot be performed by AI. 

Security

Depending on the AI services used, systems can either share or protect your data. With an embedded offering in your case management solution, you have experts from the legal software industry who understand privacy and compliance regulations developing the features you are using.

For instance, AI services from Microsoft Azure (OpenAI) follow a  “Zero Data Retention Policy” for data passed through their API for eligible endpoints upon request. This means that when you send them data and they use it to provide a service, they don’t keep that data afterward. 

If you must input your data into an external source to leverage AI, depending on how they manage the data, it could be stored in their system or vulnerable to hackers. 

Reliable support

With AI embedded in your existing software, you can count on your current Customer Support team to provide you with knowledgeable responses to your questions. They know your platform inside out and can help you troubleshoot any issues or answer any questions. An external vendor may not have the same level of expertise or responsiveness.

More reasonable costs

If the AI is baked into your CMS, the company has most likely designed it in such a way that it will be affordable and a complement to their existing software. An external AI application has an entirely different set of costs to fund its business model and can be considerably more expensive. 

Immediate results

One of the best things about embedded AI is the turnaround time. Because it’s part of a regular workflow, it will take seconds to complete tasks and will not disrupt the established efficiency of existing processes. An external vendor can often take substantially longer, sometimes weeks, depending on how the AI product is structured. 

Embedded AI offers many benefits over external vendors for your case and practice management software. But there are there are other considerations.

Considerations for Embedded AI

No second set of eyes to review AI-generated content

Embedded AI does the work for you on the spot. But that means it’s up to you to review any output before sending it to a client. Some external AI vendors use their own legal staff to review content before sending it back to you. Yet this is a double-edged sword: If humans are involved in reviewing the output that the AI has generated before sending it back to you, it can significantly prolong the turnaround time.  

Limited use cases

If AI is embedded in your CMS workflows, it’s unlikely to be highly customizable, at least in the first few versions. Natural language interactions with AI (like what you’d experience with ChatGPT) allow you to be more flexible in the type of content it can generate. 

That said, applications like ChatGPT are limited to generating output. Because ChatGPT is not integrated with a case management platform, it cannot extract data and push it into a CMS, or automatically pull information from the CMS to create content. Like embedded AI, it has its limitations; it is just limited in a different way.

How to evaluate and select the best AI option for your firm

It is clear that AI will transform the legal industry by automating tasks, improving efficiency, and reducing costs. However, not all AI solutions are created equal, and choosing the right one for your law firm can be challenging. Here are some steps to help you evaluate and select the best AI option for your needs:

Define your goals and expectations

What problems do you want to solve with AI? What benefits do you expect to gain? How will you measure success?

Research the available options

There are two main types of AI solutions for law firms: embedded and third-party. Embedded AI is integrated into your existing software or platform, while third-party AI is provided by an external vendor or service. Compare the features, benefits, and drawbacks of each option, and look for reviews, testimonials, and case studies from other law firms.

Test the solutions

Before you commit to any AI solution, you should test it in a realistic scenario and see how it performs. Ask for a free trial or a demo, and evaluate the accuracy, speed, reliability, usability, and security of the solution. You should also consider the compatibility, scalability, and integration of the solution with your existing systems and workflows.

Choose the best option

Based on your testing and evaluation, you should select the AI solution that best meets your goals and expectations. You should also consider the cost, support, and maintenance of the solution, and negotiate a contract that protects your interests and rights.

Artificial intelligence is going to help power your law firm in one way or another in the future. It’s up to you to determine what works best for your firm.

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