3 Key Takeaways from Legalweek 2024

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The biggest trend everyone was talking about at Legalweek 2024? AI – and it’s not even close.

Boasting a record 6,019 registered attendees, Legalweek 2024 was a high-energy event packed with innovation, discussion, and insight from global legal leaders. The rapid evolution of legal technology dominated speaker sessions, with a special focus on generative AI and the questions it raises for the legal industry.

And certainly, the questions about generative AI still outnumber the answers for the legal industry and elsewhere. As keynote speaker Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Malcolm in the Middle) noted, 

“There's a lot of complications with what AI can do. [For example,] when the hammer was first created, the result was, well, this is a fantastic tool to drive nails. But then someone took a hammer and hit someone over the head with it.”

In short, Cranston said, generative AI has terrible potential for misuse: “So I think that we really have to really wrap our heads around it. What's best for society?”

Here are a few answers from our speakers at Legalweek 2024.

AI is here to stay – so get smart about it

In the packed session “Smart Tech, Smarter Practice,” DISCO’s VP of AI and Review Services Umair Muhajir spoke with panelists Laura Kibbe (VP, Deputy Vice Counsel, Global Head of Litigation and Legal Operations and Chief of Staff to the GC at Unisys), Jessica Block (EVP of Market Solutions at Factor) and Christian Hakim (Project Attorney at Orrick) about selecting the right AI tools and mitigating risk when using AI.

Legalweek attendees and AI: key stats

An audience poll revealed that 71% already use AI in their legal practice – and 75% expressed the fear that “If I don’t adopt AI, I won’t appear competitive.”

"AI growth in legal" session slide

That fear is well founded. For example, DISCO announced our new generative AI-powered Cecilia Deposition Summaries at Legalweek – a product that can summarize 100 pages of testimony in 5 minutes, leaving manual reviewers in the dust.

Dive deeper with Umair Muhajir on the future of AI: Humans Behind the AI: The Accidental Lawyer 🤖

Generative AI isn’t – and shouldn’t be – the only tool in your legal tech toolbelt

In "AI-Powered Legal Practice: Leveraging Technology in Fact-Finding and Discovery," DISCO VP of AI Consulting James Park noted that while generative AI is –rightfully– in the spotlight, other tools deserve attention, especially existing AI tools. 

Available AI tools

In addition to understanding the full array of legal tech options, Park and panelists Oral Pottinger (Antitrust Partner and Litigation Manager at Mayer Brown), Sharon Desh (Partner at Winston & Strawn LLP) and Bruce Hedin (President at Hedin B. Consulting)  cautioned the audience about the ethical risks of blindly using technologies they don’t understand – citing Loomis v. Wisconsin as a prime example of how software used in the wrong context can “blow up a case.”

Tips for avoiding becoming “the poster child” for inappropriate use of tech tools:

  • Step back and attain a critical understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish, then judge what is needed to meet that goal.
  • Ask: What does success look like here?
  • Validate the tools you use.
  • Understand: What is the larger context?
  • Understand the tools you’re using – and if you don’t, get an advisor. To that end, build meaningful partnerships with team members who do have the expertise, like data scientists or computer scientists

Ultimately, these tools are here to help – not replace lawyers. But they can only do so when properly applied.

As Park noted, “Just like how spellcheck and now Grammarly has made me a better writer, legal AI technology has the ability to help us sharpen skills and make better lawyers.”

Read more from James Park on the ethics of AI: Humans Behind the AI: The AI Consultant ⚖️

Explosive data growth → “a paradigm shift in how we approach litigation”

The session "Meeting the Data Demands of Litigation," led by DISCO’s VP of Customer Enablement and Success, Justin Hoffman, explored the exponential growth of data volumes and types involved in litigation – and the increasing complexity of managing, analyzing, and leveraging this data effectively.

Related: How to Collect Slack Data for Ediscovery and Legal Holds 💡

Panelists Elan Hersch (Partner and Director of Ediscovery Services at Akerman LLP), Lauren E. Krohm (Senior Associate at Langsam Stevens Silver & Hollaender LLP) and  Robert Rando (Intellectual Property and Complex Litigation Partner at Greenspoon Marder LLP) shared data collection horror stories – like employees using personal devices for business purposes – as well as the importance of adapting to the evolution of legal technology. 

Rando framed it best, asking the question we should all be considering in 2024: “Are you driving the AI, or are you letting the AI drive you?”

Key themes from Justin Hoffman's legalweek session

Bonus: Compare these takeaways with the top trends of Legalweek 2023 ⏱️

Innovate in 2024 with DISCO

Ready to see how generative AI can transform your legal practice?

DISCO’s been serving up AI-powered ediscovery since 2012, and our generative-AI powered Cecilia AI solutions suite is the next chapter in the future of legal technology. 

Get in touch to learn more about Cecilia Q&A (our in-platform AI assistance that can answer any question about your case in natural language), Cecilia Timelines, Cecilia Deposition Summaries, and Cecilia Auto Review -- so you can automate the tedious aspects of your workflows and focus on actually practicing law.

See what DISCO can do for you: Request a demo.

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Kendra Fortmeyer