Can't Spell ILTACON Without AI. Because Then It'd Be 'LTCON.'

Seriously though, artificial intelligence looms over the proceedings.

Humanoid mini robot with HUD hologram screen doing hand raised up on white background. Technology and innovative concept. 3D illustration renderingSeveral annual gatherings of the International Legal Technology Association ago, the news of the show was its pedestrian view of artificial intelligence. After a few years of vendors discussing the topic like hawking magic beans, the mood chilled and everyone talked about AI as a completely normal tool with recognized limits. The legal tech world collectively had a breakthrough at therapy that year.

But in 2023, artificial intelligence might actually be magic. It’s not replacing lawyers any time soon (it’s not even poised to do 90 percent of what the media claims or that lazy lawyers imagine it can), but it looks like a technology on the cusp of really changing how the industry does its job.

Will the lawyers actually get the memo?

There’s nearly 3,300 attendees here at ILTACON and precious few are practicing attorneys. Every year, I plead with firms to send attorneys to this show or at least schedule a detailed debriefing after the fact. Too often the conference feels a bit like earning an invitation to a support group of Scooby-Doo villains, swapping their visions of an efficient legal practice… and it would work, too, if it weren’t for those pesky attorneys.

From the exhibit hall to the bar, firm and law department tech professionals are getting into the weeds with vendors describing pain points and what they would need to pull the trigger on a new implementation, but the shadow looming over every chat is whether the attorneys will understand it enough to change how they work.

“We’re usually talking about increasing a partner’s bottom line from a million to $1.1 million,” an attendee explained. “And sometimes that’s not enough to get them to buy in.”

Which is where AI comes in. This isn’t about picking up efficiencies at the margins, this is going to be existential to the future practice of law. The overwhelming majority of Am Law 100 firms are looking into leveraging AI, but whenever we hear those numbers, we’ve got to think, are the Am Law 100 really looking into using AI or are the tech professionals from Am Law 100 firms on top of this… and will they get the buy in they need when they go back home?

It’s a case that would be a lot easier to make if a couple attorneys would show up to these proceedings.

HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

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