by Gary Sangha, Codex Fellow
The current economic climate and high turnover rates for unhappy in-house lawyers have put the legal industry at a crossroads. Both trends increase workloads and raise louder calls to “do more with less.”
Answering those calls is burning out legal departments. According to Axiom’s 2022 In-House Counsel Survey Report, nearly half of lawyers report feeling “very or extremely stressed” or “burned out.” Manual administrative tasks are eating away at their abilities to accomplish high-value work. Contracting teams spend over 40% of their time and budget on unchallenging, low-complexity work, and shrinking teams will only increase the low-value burdens lawyers face.
Lawyers can’t make more hours in a day, but they have an opportunity to embrace legal technology to meet the challenge of doing more with less. By leveraging AI, legal can expedite revenue generation and achieve ROI on enterprise spend while creating more engaging, valuable work for in-house counsel.
Legal departments under pressure
Today’s legal teams manage more business functions and navigate a shifting regulatory landscape with reduced headcounts and budgets. An uncertain economy is driving businesses to push for faster contract turnarounds.
- Repetitive tasks
- Work misaligned with the organization’s objectives
- Administrative burdens
Manual toil traps lawyers in an exhausting slog of unappealing work.
Chief legal officers (CLOs) have recognized the challenges. In a 2023 survey, they indicated the desire to create more autonomy for other business departments, shift some low-risk work away from legal teams, accelerate deals and distance the department from the “legal bottleneck” stereotype.
To achieve those goals, CLOs recommended automating simple, routine tasks and using technology (e.g., contract and matter management systems) to provide self-service tools, forms, and resources for other business departments.
As law departments lean into AI and automation, they need to remember technology is not a lawyer replacement but a powerful tool to augment lawyers’ work. This belief is the principle behind “human-centered AI,” combining human intelligence with AI that operates within human-defined boundaries. This approach builds the technology around human needs and capabilities.
With human-centered AI, organizations can harness AI and retain the benefits of human critical thinking, creativity and empathy. Designing legal AI with humans at its center leads to AI tools that right-source the tedious parts of the job, freeing lawyers to focus on higher-value work.
Minimizing friction and accelerating deals
How does human-centered AI design work? Consider the current process for contract negotiations.
Negotiations between parties frequently drag out due to uncertainties regarding the underlying motivation or reasoning. It’s not uncommon for one party to question why the other proposed a particular change. And if lawyers can’t reach the person making the recommendation, they are stuck waiting. Contracts typically spend significant time sitting in various inboxes.
However, with an AI-powered contract review and negotiations solution, corporate legal departments can implement digital playbook standards that meet compliance requirements and minimize risk. Legal teams receive fully redlined and annotated contract versions within minutes while reducing extended back-and-forth negotiations. AI also empowers other business units to draft and negotiate contracts, reducing legal bottlenecks and friction between departments while freeing legal to work on more complex contracts.
Prolonged negotiations slow down revenue and prevent leaders from executing business decisions. Lawyers supported by AI can accelerate deals — and revenue.
Human-centered AI is primed to make a real impact
No one goes to law school dreaming about manually redlining contracts. People go to law school with dreams of making an impact. When designed with the human lawyer at its core, AI is a powerful tool to help lawyers realize that dream.
As legal departments face the challenges of high attrition and increased workloads, lawyers must turn to tools like AI for support. In turn, legal can truly “do more with less” while accelerating revenue generation for their companies.
About the Author
Gary Sangha is the founder and CEO of LexCheck, the leading AI-powered contract acceleration and intelligence platform. A renowned thought leader in the legal technology industry, he also serves as a CodeX Fellow at the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics.
A serial entrepreneur, Gary previously founded Intelligize, which transformed lawyers’ ability to research regulatory filings. At that time, Intelligize was one of the fastest-growing legal technology companies in the U.S. and was subsequently acquired by LexisNexis.
In his early career, Gary practiced securities law at Shearman & Sterling in New York City and White & Case in Hong Kong. He has been featured in numerous media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and various industry blogs. He has also been awarded multiple honors including being named to Crain’s New York Businesses’ “40 Under 40” list.
Gary earned his J.D. at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and received his B.A. in Economics and Commerce from the University of Toronto. He is duly licensed and admitted to practice as an attorney and counselor-at-law in all the courts of the State of New York.