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Lexis+ AI
Geraldine Kelm

Partner and Head of Account Management, Pinsent Masons Vario

Quotation Marks
Of course, hopefully it goes without saying that any content produced by AI still needs a final human eye to ensure accuracy and that the tone is appropriate

How can lawyers preserve their personal brand if artificial intelligence is behind the wheel?

How can lawyers preserve their personal brand if artificial intelligence is behind the wheel?


Geraldine Kelm discusses the importance of ensuring artificial intelligence does not strip away the genuine connection lawyers have with their clients

Artificial intelligence (AI) has certainly been a hot topic in the past year – arguably 2023 was the year that AI really broke into the mainstream. This is partly down to generative, language-based programmes such as ChatGPT democratising access to AI, allowing people to really experiment with it properly for the first time, and at no cost.

Inevitably, once people could see the potential, we all began to wonder if AI would actually take our jobs from us in the very near future. Elon Musk certainly seems to think so. Speaking with Rishi Sunak recently, Musk stated that, “It’s hard to say exactly what that moment is, but there will come a point where no job is needed […]. You can have a job if you wanted to have a job for personal satisfaction. But the AI would be able to do everything.” If this will come to pass is very much up for debate. However, for lawyers, 2023 has certainly been the year when debate has raged around how disruptive AI will be – for the better and for the worse, and if legal jobs are realistically under threat. Research from the US, undertaken by Princeton revealed that the legal industry is one of the most likely professions to be impacted by AI.

AI and the legal industry

At this point though, it is all very much conjecture and I expect 2024 will see many more debates and musings on to what extent AI will remove the need for lawyers altogether in the future. One thing is for certain though, we are not there yet – or even close. As programmes like ChatGPT have a track record of creating fake court citations, and are often unable to draw on the most recent legal information, there is certainly still a need for lawyers. However, you can’t ignore the efficiencies AI can provide. A recent survey from Thomson Reuters revealed that ‘among legal professionals, improved productivity and efficiency were seen as the biggest positive effects of AI (75 per cent and 67 per cent respectively). And among those respondents at law firms more than half (55 per cent) see AI as an opportunity for increased revenue and lower costs. Further, a large majority (81 per cent) of legal respondents said they expect new services that will create new revenue streams to emerge within the next five years.’ For those unwilling to embrace AI, the general consensus is that you risk being left behind.

It has been established that AI has the potential to take on elements of a lawyer’s job. Even if you are firmly against artificial intelligence and its potential, you may have noticed it is slowly starting to creep into everyday life, whether you like it or not. For example, drafting an email in Microsoft, you may see suggested replies pop up in the top corner, which are usually appropriate to use for a quick response. More and more professionals are turning to programmes such as ChatGPT to help with drafting much longer emails and client communications. In other industries, the tech is already being harnessed to help with sales emails in particular. For example, Salesforce recently announced its product called EinsteinGPT, which uses an OpenAI ChatGPT model. This product can automatically write marketing emails with elements of personalisation, resembling something a human would produce.

This all makes sense – email dominates how we communicate. Statistics from Prosperity Media reveal that 40 emails are sent per day by the average office worker. This equates, in an eight-hour working day, to an email sent every 12 minutes and likely the figure will be much higher for a busy lawyer. Handing over all that to an AI programme certainly sounds appealing in one sense – think of the time we could all save, no longer slaves to the inbox. But while programmes like ChatGPT have clear benefits – creating efficiencies and removing the mundanity of constantly writing and responding to emails, what could we lose here? It is often said that one of the reasons a lawyer is instructed is because they are liked and respected – the client likes dealing with them, there is a rapport and a more personal relationship builds trust. Turning to ChatGPT or other AI tools for client communications could mean a sense of self, any humour or the human touch is lost.

What should lawyers consider? And how can personal brand be preserved?

Don’t dismiss your personal brand

A strong personal brand should not be undervalued, and lawyers should not assume they do not have a personal brand, just because they have never considered it. A distinctive personal brand can be a very powerful and valuable asset for a lawyer in this day and age, when the legal market is becoming increasingly competitive. A strong personal brand can help cut through the noise with clients and create a real connection. Obviously, with more and more professionals using AI to communicate with clients, using your personal brand to inform your communications can be a great way to make an impression and grow long-term relationships.

A personal brand is based on your personal strengths and values. The Law Society recommends you asking the following questions when thinking about defining your personal brand:

  • What do you excel at? Are you a natural advocate? Do you have superlative forensic skills?
  • What are your strengths? Can you explain things simply in a way others can understand? Do you have great leadership qualities? Are you particularly strong in emotional awareness?
  • What drives you to succeed? A sense of justice and fairness? The potential for high earnings?
  • What are you known for – what is your reputation? Do you always meet deadlines? Take time to support others? Or are you the person who doesn’t return calls, is consistently late and often rude?
  • How do you behave? Are you unfailingly courteous? Or do you sometimes have difficulty managing angry outbursts?

These questions are a strong starting point and, in the age of AI, defining a strong personal brand can do wonders to draw a line between you and the robots.

Work on your soft skills

At Vario, we have long advocated for the importance of soft skills for lawyers. We provide consultant lawyers to businesses and these professionals have to be able to parachute into a legal team and start making an impact from day one. Building trust and strong working relationships from the beginning is therefore incredibly important. When we talk about soft skills, this usually means the ability to recognise and understand your emotions as well as others’, and manage them properly so you can communicate well, empathise, problem solve and de-stress a situation or calm a conflict. We also talk about emotional intelligence as an important soft skill and this includes self-awareness and social awareness – being able to empathise and read others’ emotions, as well as your own. It also encompasses effective relationship management – being able to lead/work in a team effectively, settle conflicts and support others’ development and self-management, which means that you can manage your own emotions and adapt easily to change.

For too long, soft skills have been traditionally undervalued in favour of intellectual ability. However, recent technological developments have certainly shown how important soft skills are for lawyers. However, this of course doesn’t mean the technical knowledge which lawyers possess will be redundant in favour of what AI can achieve. It may just mean that how lawyers work and offer advice to clients is changing slightly. The Thomson Reuters survey for example, cited that a majority (58 per cent) also said they anticipate a rise in their professional skill level, while more than two-thirds of legal professionals see a more consultative approach to advice emerging.

Right source

My colleagues looked at right sourcing in some detail here, but it is worth briefly re-examining this in the context of using AI day-to-day in a legal context and the impact it could have. Ultimately, right sourcing is about getting the work done by the right resource, at the right time, at a suitable price point. It is an essential question to ask when thinking about improving efficiencies and in a legal team which combines people, processes and technology, the questions should revolve around the work that people should be doing. If this realistically matches the skills in the team, and how technology is being used – are we using what we have? At Vario, our managed legal services team will take clients through this journey to ensure they are using the right resources for the appropriate task to improve productivity. Assessing where AI can make a helpful change in your team and improve efficiencies is an important first step.

Of course, in some contexts, using AI to draft emails could be completely appropriate, particularly if the email in question is a fairly routine client communication. However, an element of oversight is essential. Firstly, to ensure no howlers have crept in, but to also potentially change the language and insert some personalised detail.

Be AI smart

An AI programme is only as good as the data set it learns from, and the questions it is asked. If you assess that AI could support you draft emails to clients, or other copy, particularly related to business development activity, for example, it is important that you carefully consider what you put into the AI programme to get the best, most tailored, output. Prompt engineering is the practice of carefully designing what is put into a generative AI tool to ensure the best results. This is becoming such an important element of successfully utilising AI tools that it is even popping up as a full-time (and well-paid) job in some sectors. Creating very detailed prompts can help ensure the copy is written with the right tone, as well as content.

Programmes like ChatGPT can be very helpful when you have a mass of information but want to present it to a client in a more condensed manner. You can also provide ChatGPT with the information you would like to include in the email, alongside prompts to ensure the content is more personalised and in-keeping with your personal brand. Writing in Forbes, AI expert Jodie Cook recommends specific prompts to make content more personal – for example, ‘I want to make this email more personal by including specific information I know about the recipient. Can you help me incorporate that into the email? I want to show the recipient that I value our relationship. The email content is: [include the email content] and specific information about the recipient is: [include information unique to them].’

Of course, hopefully it goes without saying that any content produced by AI still needs a final human eye to ensure accuracy and that the tone is appropriate. You may have heard about the viral TikTok video after a user asked ChatGPT to help her write an email to her boss about quitting her job, in a professional tone, and the output included the sentence, ‘I cannot be sad and poor for another month.’


There is lots for lawyers to consider at the moment. The failure to embrace AI is certainly a step backwards and risks being left in the cold. However, with AI having the potential to undertake elements of a lawyer’s role, it is ever more important to focus on what makes a lawyer valuable. The use of AI must be carefully considered, and lawyers need to take responsibility for defining and preserving their own personal brand. Ensuring AI does not strip away what makes us human and the genuine connection lawyers have with their clients should be a priority in 2024.

Geraldine Kelm is partner and head of account management at Pinsent Masons Vario

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