Navigating the future of knowledge and know-how with generative AI
Ari Kaplan. Photo by Tori Soper.
Ari Kaplan recently spoke with Kelly Lake, the CEO and executive director for CEB: Continuing Education of the Bar, a California-focused provider of legal research and continuation legal education.
Ari Kaplan: Tell us about your background and your work at CEB.
Kelly Lake: I am an information industry executive, who spent almost two decades with Thomson Reuters delivering knowledge and information solutions to lawyers, researchers, health care providers, educators and accountants around the world. My time there influenced the way I approached my work at CEB. My two guiding principles are, first and foremost, trust and accuracy must be your north star; second, content is the star of the show, and technology should highlight or support your content. When I started my career in the late 1990s, it was a time of incredible digital transformation in professional services, where we were delivering knowledge-intensive solutions in highly regulated, complex environments to professionals who needed to rely on them. I was also part of the international division for legal, which included all products outside the United States. That responsibility helped me learn how to quickly assimilate regardless of the jurisdiction and understand the ways in which local lawyers consume content, which varied. I spent time in China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Brazil. When I came to CEB, which started after the second World War as a pioneering continuing legal education provider to help returning veterans resume the practice of law, we seamlessly evolved from a publisher to a world-class content provider.
Ari Kaplan: What is the connection between continuing legal education and legal research?
Kelly Lake: Legal research is often defined as a unique sub segment of the much larger legal and regulatory industry, while continuing legal education is a more narrowly interpreted as a compliance element of the profession. At CEB, we look at the intention and the purpose of the content and view the process as a pyramid, with learning content at the foundation and legal research and on top of that base. Our goal is to answer very specific questions and in the right context. The next level of that pyramid is the practical application or know-how necessary to achieve an outcome.
Ari Kaplan: How does CEB combine human editorial expertise and oversight with its rules-based machine integration?
Kelly Lake: CEB has made a significant investment in technology and a culture reorientation to adapt to the needs of our customers. Six years ago, we began collaborating with Judicata to incorporate machine learning and natural language processing technology into our legal research platform to help identify patterns in citations, courts and legal language. To supplement the technology, we also built a team of legal editors to supervise and train the results, which has produced some of the highest accuracy rates in the field, a promising proof point as we consider ways to leverage the power of large language models.
Ari Kaplan: How do you adapt your content and CLE library to the needs of your clients as the profession continues to change?
Kelly Lake: CEB serves solo practitioners, government attorneys, lawyers in the court system and large law firm attorneys, who use our legal research and benefit from our CLE. Since they have different needs, we focus on specific areas that address their unique situations. Ultimately, it is about being responsive and listening to our customers. Our goal is to be the go-to source for complex and unique information and insights on California law.
Ari Kaplan: What effect do you think generative AI will have on legal research?
Kelly Lake: From an industry information point of view, within the next two to three years, how we consume legal research will be very different and provide a much more detailed analysis based on fact patterns. It will become a much richer and deeper experience. On the back end, we will be able to process and add intelligence to large reams of data and content to develop new products. Is it going to be transformative? Absolutely. What does that transformation look like in the short term? I’m not sure.
Ari Kaplan: What are your plans for expanding into markets beyond California?
Kelly Lake: We are laser-focused on becoming the go-to source for hyper-local, hyper-technical, California legal knowledge and information. As a part of the University of California system, we have a unique grounding in the California community. There are interesting opportunities for smaller associations to use our templates in other jurisdictions, which we are exploring.
Ari Kaplan: How can you replicate your expertise and hyper-local guidance in other jurisdictions?
Kelly Lake: The AI boom is enhancing our ability to acquire large volumes of content and provide insights and intelligence around them, though the biggest challenge we have with hyper-local guidance in other jurisdictions is still collecting the material.
Ari Kaplan: How do you see legal training evolving?
Kelly Lake: Clients are using our CLE more expansively to on-board associates and to help them rapidly learn about an issue related to an immediate client matter, rather than simply to earn compliance credits. Clients may also be presenting issues that are not necessarily in a lawyer’s core practice area, so they are upskilling in real time, which validates our focus on continuous learning.
Listen to the complete interview at Reinventing Professionals.
Ari Kaplan regularly interviews leaders in the legal industry and in the broader professional services community to share perspective, highlight transformative change and introduce new technology at his blog and on iTunes.
This column reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of the ABA Journal—or the American Bar Association.