Want to Leverage AI But Don’t Know Where to Start? Download The Complete Legal AI Action Plan


Artificial Hype: Practical Applications of A.I. Within the Legal Department

By now, we have all heard the term “A.I.” or artificial intelligence many times over, whether reading the latest business headlines, attending an industry conference, or simply scanning your social news feeds on LinkedIn or Twitter. And with talk about ChatGPT dominating the headlines as of late, it’s hard not to wonder about the future impacts of A.I. on legal departments.

However, as exciting as this new A.I. technology is, there have been some real and practical applications of A.I. happening within legal departments for some time.

In fact, the impacts of A.I. on legal professionals was the focus of several sessions and countless conversations during a 2020 Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) Institute, which illustrates its early origins within the legal ops community.

Certainly, A.I. is not a stand-alone answer for managing legal spend, or any other aspect of legal department operations, but the truth is that A.I. has delivered a clear incremental improvement over an old process.

Where the rubber meets the road for managing outside legal spend is tougher oversight over outside counsel billing guidelines, establishing alternative fee arrangements (AFAs), and more detailed planning and budgeting – all areas in which artificial intelligence can be leveraged to achieve unprecedented gains in managing outside legal spend.

Although legal department budgets vary broadly in terms of size, structure, and outside litigation costs, more than half of the companies recently surveyed by HBR Consulting reported having a dedicated legal operations professional who is tasked with a broad set of responsibilities and competencies, including financial and vendor management.

I spoke with Julie Sullivan, a CLOC member and head of legal operations at Rimini Street, back in 2020. Rimini Street was an early adopter of law department management innovation, including A.I.  Sullivan shared that using A.I. tools to manage her company’s legal spend initially enabled the organization to save more than 5% on an annualized total, and surely that number is higher today.

After implementing legal spend analytics for a few months, all bets were off. In what would traditionally take 10-20 hours to review one 72-page invoice, Brightflag’s legal spend analytics platform allowed Rimini Street’s law department to quickly and easily see redundancies and items contrary to their billing guidelines. They could flag major billing issues, such as block billing, and quickly realize significant savings.

Looking ahead, beyond the legal spend analytics A.I. solution Rimini Street has already implemented, Sullivan noted that additional tasks and processes open to automation through A.I. tools include contract management and even the behemoth known as e-discovery. “E-discovery is a huge area for a potential time and cost-savings using A.I.,” Sullivan said.

No longer uncharted territory within the legal ecosystem, A.I. is being utilized by early adopters within corporate legal departments to foster efficiency, identify savings and drive transparency. It’s time to start believing the hype regarding the impacts of A.I. on legal professionals.

Interested in learning more about how A.I. can help your legal department? Contact us today.

Ian Nolan

CEO at Brightflag

Ian Nolan is Co-Founder and CEO of Brightflag. He has spent his entire career building software for the legal industry. Ian received his Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) Degree from the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, and holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree from Dublin City University.