Year in Review

2023 Year in Review: AI innovations and the quest for better legal billing

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Nicole Black

Nicole Black.

As 2023 draws to a close, let’s reflect on a year that has seen remarkable strides—and changes—in legal technology. The legal profession, often criticized for its reluctance to embrace change, witnessed an unprecedented shift in attitudes, largely as a result of the generative artificial intelligence revolution. These generative AI tools, ranging from sophisticated contract review and lifecycle management to intelligent legal assistants, are redefining how work gets accomplished in law firms.

Concurrently, the evolution of legal billing solutions has changed the invoice collections game. Time tracking, billing and online payments software have streamlined the arduous task of law firm billing, ensuring lawyers are compensated quickly and efficiently while also bridging the access to justice gap by offering legal clients increasing payment flexibility and convenience.

Throughout 2023 I covered these topics and more. My legal technology column roundup below provides legal professionals with insight into choosing legal tools, including software adoption roadmaps. Whether your interests lie in AI-driven innovation or advanced billing solutions, I’ve got you covered.

January: Legal Technology Survey results

The legal industry has undergone significant changes in recent years, driven in large part by the adoption of technologies needed to maintain operability in the midst of uncertainty. As I explain in January’s column, data from the 2022 MyCase and LawPay legal industry report offers perspective on the challenges legal professionals face when using technology in their firms. You’ll also learn about the most popular and effective technologies currently being used in law firms. Whether you’re a solo practitioner or the managing partner of a large law firm, you’ll find valuable information on how to leverage technology to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve client service.

February: The case for legal ChatGPT

In this column, you’ll learn that artificial intelligence has the potential to change the world in which we work and live. Even before ChatGPT was released in November 2022, AI-related transformation was already happening, and the legal industry was not immune. A year after its release, generative AI is commonplace and the possibilities for the use of this technology in the legal industry are endless. In the future, as more legal technology companies increasingly incorporate ChatGPT and similar AI tools into their platforms, this technology will offer immeasurable benefits and time-saving potential for legal professionals.

March: Legalweek 2023 wrapup

During the Legalweek 2023 conference in New York City, AI dominated the conversation. Not everyone agreed on how legal professionals should—or could—use it. However, one thing that stood out about this conference was the newfound sense of energy and excitement about technologies like generative AI. While there is still much to understand about the ethical, regulatory and practical implications of generative AI in the legal industry, the takeaway was that this technology is improving at an exponential rate and will undoubtedly impact the legal profession.

April: Online process servers

With the advent of online process server websites, the intake function no longer needs to be locally based; instead, national companies can manage requests for process servers, and then delegate assignments to local process servers in relevant jurisdictions. As part of the remote work transformation, companies providing nationwide service of process via web portals have only increased over time, offering efficiency and convenience for lawyers seeking to quickly and easily request the service of documents.

May: Generative AI contracts analytics tools

If your legal practice involves frequent contract review, it would be a mistake to overlook the advantages that generative AI-powered contracts analytics software offers. The adaptive nature of contract analysis software enables it to continuously learn from newly added contracts, such as nondisclosure or employment agreements. The introduction of AI functionality into this category of software has the potential to dramatically impact the way attorneys handle contract work, resulting in substantial savings in both time and resources.

June: Time-tracking software

Effective time management is an essential element of a successful law practice, and efficient timekeeping is an important part of that equation. Time-tracking technology has the potential to propel your law firm toward greater efficiency and profitability, but choosing the right tool is essential. That’s where this article comes in. In it, you’ll learn about the benefits of legal time-tracking software and will be provided with guidance to assist in choosing the right tool for your law firm’s needs. In addition, you’ll find a list of time-tracking tools for solo and small firm lawyers, both stand-alone and integrated within other software, to assist you in making an informed decision.

July: AI-powered legal assistants

Another type of generative AI category, legal assistants, aren’t limited to a specific type of law practice or task and can instead be used by most lawyers across all workflows. Generative AI legal assistant tools are often powered by GPT-4 or a combination of generative AI chatbot technologies including Google’s Bard or Microsoft’s Bing, while others rely on proprietary AI technology. These tools typically include the ability to analyze and review documents, provide summaries of documents or cases, answer general questions, draft templates and forms, extract contract data and more. In this article, you’ll learn about many of the solutions available.

August: Legal billing products

If getting paid for the legal work you perform is important, then you already know why legal billing software is an indispensable tool. These platforms do more than streamline the billing process; they also promote accountability and ensure compliance with ethical standards, all while improving your firm’s financial management. As you’ll learn in this article, when researching legal billing software, there are many options available designed to meet the varied needs and budgets of law firms. From online invoicing to financial reporting, these tools offer more than just convenience—and they are a strategic investment in your firm’s future success.

September: AI contract life cycle management software

Contracts are the lifeblood of business operations, yet they are one of the most underutilized assets in the corporate world. Historically, negotiating, managing and tracking contracts and their key provisions have been challenging due to the static nature of the documents. However, in recent years, the landscape of contract management has shifted dramatically. Contracts are no longer immutable, stale documents; instead, contract life cycle management software powered by generative AI technology mines the treasure trove of contractual data to provide strategic and informed insights, enabling legal professionals to better mitigate risk, negotiate, manage and assess contracts.

October: Legal payment-processing platforms

This article is the third in the series that explores legal tools for law firms to increase profitability and focuses on getting paid using legal online payment-processing tools. It covers the advantages of accepting online payments from clients, along with important factors to consider when selecting a solution, and will also provide an overview of the top tools in this category. By the end, you’ll have a good understanding of the benefits of online payment processing software, including advice on how to choose the right payment tool for your law firm’s needs.

As we wrap up our journey through the legal tech landscape of the past year, it’s clear that 2023 will be a year to remember. Generative AI has not only provided lawyers with powerful tools to enhance their practices, but it has also sparked unbridled interest in technology at levels never before seen in our industry. Simultaneously, advancements in billing software have brought much-needed efficiency and transparency to financial transactions in legal practice.

Looking ahead to 2024, there’s an exciting path ahead offering forward-thinking lawyers access to cutting-edge tools that will enable their firms to succeed and thrive in the midst of a rapidly evolving legal technology landscape. For those innovative legal professionals, the sky is the limit and opportunities abound but necessarily hinge on an open mindset and a willingness to embrace the potential of these next-level innovations.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York-based attorney, author and journalist, and she is senior director of subject matter expertise and external education at MyCase, a company that offers legal practice management software for small firms. She is the nationally recognized author of Cloud Computing for Lawyers and is co-author of Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, both published by the American Bar Association. She writes regular columns for and Above the Law, has authored hundreds of articles for other publications, and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law and emerging technologies. Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) @nikiblack, or she can be reached at [email protected].

This column reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of the ABA Journal—or the American Bar Association.

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