Legaltech news recently explored findings of the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Survey Report, which showed hesitancy – particularly among smaller firms – to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) tools. Accuracy and reliability were survey respondents’ top two concerns around AI.

Their reluctance to embrace new technologies may be understandable. New tools can be intimidating, especially for leaders of small firms and solo practices who – like most lawyers – don’t have backgrounds in technology or science.

Yet small firm leaders arguably stand to benefit the most from new technologies like AI, which can help them manage their practice and business more efficiently and effectively. The day-to-day challenges of practicing law in small firms – from business development to spending too much time on administrative tasks – are precisely those that AI and legal tech can address.

These challenges and other issues, along with some suggested guidance on a path forward are discussed in the 2019 State of the U.S. Small Law Firms Report.

New products with AI capabilities can seamlessly integrate with existing tools, and they allow small law firms to level the playing field and truly compete with larger, more heavily resourced firms. Accessing AI-powered solutions essentially gives solo- and small-firm attorneys the collective wisdom of hundreds of lawyers – an effective way to improve the quality and efficiency of their work product.

Some attorneys may be surprised to learn they’re already using AI in their legal research. But bluntly they should not be, because for more than 25 years, Thomson Reuters has used AI and machine learning-based tools in products to solve specific problems for lawyers. Quick Check is just one example of a new feature on Westlaw Edge that encourages AI capabilities.

As we approach year-end and consider how to make the most of 2020, I encourage small firm leaders to prioritize adopting new technologies and review how best to secure your practice’s future. With a willingness to embrace change and the support of new technologies and tools, small firm lawyers can more effectively deliver cost-conscious, quality outcomes for their clients.

This post was written by Mark Haddad, general manager, Small Law Segment for Thomson Reuters. Follow Haddad on LinkedIn.

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