Photo credit: Jason E. Kaplan
Bill Pierznik of Macro Law Group
How Macro Law Group is leveraging AI and automation to transform the way law firms do business
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Bill Piaznik has been a practicing attorney for over 20 years. He primarily worked as an in-house advisor for technology companies such as Act-On Software and Mobilize.
However, in 2023, he launched the Macro Law Group with the aim of dispelling what he considers to be some of the outdated norms of his profession. He reached out to Bonnie Page, a colleague of his for over 10 years, and a new company was born.
“I decided it would be fun to take everything I had learned over the past 10 years within a technology company and how to run a technology company effectively and start a law firm,” Piaznik told Oregon Business. Masu. “Meanwhile, I watched law firms operate the same way they did in 2005, with email, everything in a black box, billed time and inefficiencies. I did.”
So what does it mean to build a more efficient law firm?
That includes using technology tools — some AI-enabled and some simpler automation tools — for traditionally boring and time-consuming tasks, Piaznik said. .
For example, companies like Westlaw and LexisNexis are developing AI-enabled tools to facilitate legal research. Although generative AI tools don’t work well in research when given open-ended prompts, they can be very useful when given appropriately narrowed prompts, he said. I am.
“What we’re finding from a legal perspective, and it’s true in many other fields, is that when you leverage AI and say to it, ‘Hey, make this,’ you can create hallucinations. “There is,” Pierznik said. “You get a little bit out of whack and start making things up. Sometimes that’s a good starting point, but there’s a lot more work that needs to be done. The most powerful thing about AI in our field is, ‘Hey, Kansas law. What is the current status of the enforceability of non-compete agreements based on this?’ Well, that’s a known fact, right? There are laws and case laws about that. ”
And rather than generating documents from scratch, new AI tools generate real-world, referenceable legal research.
Another potential use for AI tools in the legal field is to simply automate smaller projects such as contract reviews, but Piaznik says the tools he reviewed are still insufficient to achieve his goals. It states that it is not accurate. Macro Law is also already working on using automation and AI to streamline internal administrative processes and make them faster.
“The day-to-day practice of law hasn’t really changed that much,” Pierznik said. “But we’re starting to see little infusions of, ‘Oh, we can automate that, oh, we can automate that.’ Our focus is automating everything to make it faster and more efficient.” How do you get to the position of a strategist? Advising clients on litigation strategy, attending board meetings and advising boards on the best way to approach a particular topic? I don’t think we’re ever going to replace a lawyer who does that.” He predicts there will be fewer jobs for paralegals in the near future, but the jobs that remain are likely to be more complex and interesting.
What he sees changing is the business model in which law firms operate. Most law firms revolve around billable hours.
“At the end of the day, if you can leverage technology to review contracts, summarize cases, and perform due diligence in minutes instead of 25 to 30 hours worth of manual work, your billable time will be much lower. It literally makes no sense,” Pierznik said. .
Currently, Macro Law has several clients using a “subscription model.” They pay a flat monthly fee and we perform all legal services on their behalf. Some of that work is done manually and some is automated.
He doesn’t think the industry will change overnight. Big law firms are notoriously slow to embrace change. But for smaller law firms and smaller clients, especially start-ups and small businesses, increasing flexibility in payment models can be a game-changer.
“I think everyone will be successful because there’s a lot of work that’s not being done today because small businesses can’t afford lawyers,” Piaznik says. “When you talk to smaller startups, whether it’s food startups, apparel companies, technology companies, a lot of times they have big law firms sitting on the board; I’m not going to call you to find out non-disclosures. If you charge me $1,000 an hour, I’ll agree.”
He also doesn’t think large companies will make changes on their own.
“It’s going to take years to adopt and change this business model, and frankly, many law firms aren’t going to do it themselves because the profits are too high,” Piaznik said. he says. “What’s going to happen is the client is going to force it.”
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