Did you notice his arrival - and it's potential impact on YOUR association?
TEN months ago, in May 2016, an AI lawyer was hired by Baker& Hostetler to work in their bankruptcy law practice. The AI’s name is Ross and he was created by IBM.
Ross sounds pretty amazing.
He has internalized all law regarding bankruptcy and monitors 24/7 for new decisions too.
Ask Ross what you want to know. He will think through the challenge logically. Once he has his answer, he’ll produce the legal precedents most likely to impact a court case – including references and citations in his comments.
No more massive time needed wading through searches and analyzing for relevance!
While Baker & Hostetler were the first to hire Ross, other law firms were in line to hire others like Ross.
There was a flurry of announcements last year - and even an interview in Fortune when Ross was first hired.
Then information about him went to ground.
Why the ensuing silence?
Here’s my bet… According to the interviews, Baker & Hostetler, are growing aggressively and pride themselves on a relationship-based business.
Relationships imply humans – not AI. Ross is positioned as just a tool to them – at least for right now.
None the less, ten months ago AI lawyers were launched with some pretty amazing skills.
It makes sense starting them in the bankruptcy niche. It’s specialized and deals with a lot of money.
The cost of an AI to save thousands of hours of research time is a no-brainer.
Once IBM tweaks Ross as needed and they figure out how to smoothly onboard Ross onto a human team, AI lawyers will start showing up in other niches of law as well.
Changing the niche content is simply loading different files into Ross’s system. We do that every day on our computers.
The human response aspect is probably more challenging – especially as Ross becomes more intelligent the more you work with him.
The success of Ross creates some interesting questions:
How do law firms who use AI lawyers like Ross charge for their time?
Does the firm pass the savings on to the client? Or take the AI hourly rate to the sky given Ross’s ability to analyze relevancy and stay current 24/7?
Does Ross need to pass the bar?
Or does his programmer need to work with someone who has? Or does the bar matter less as Ross knows more than the bar will ever test?
Given Ross’s ability to track decisions 24/7, does Ross need to get continuing education (CE) credits to keep his status in the bar if he even has it?
(Ross would be way more current than any CE teacher.)
How do young law associates who usually do the labor intense legal research and analysis compete with Ross?
If Ross has analysis and research covered in moments, what do new associates do for a firm? Does a firm need as many as they have traditionally hired?
Wait a minute… What the heck does Ross have to do with your association – especially if your members are not bankruptcy lawyers?
First, what did the team reading the waves of change for your association come up with their analysis around Ross being hired?
What is your board now discussing as a result?
Ross is big.
What other professions might be impacted if AI has already started to be hired in legal?
Are the professions you identify represented in your association?
Is the potential impact so big it can impact a vast majority of people – and thus indirectly your association?
I can see questions being raised about how to compete with AI employees.
What can humans do better? How can your members identify and hone those skills?
For those of you who focus on providing content, will your members still need CE if AIs do the bulk of the jobs requiring memorization?
Have you ever seen the crime shows where the FBI can match a sketch of a suspect against a database of photos in practically no time?
What if an AI had a library of photos in its system that allowed them to do the same with something like medical issues?
What if your association is the keeper (perhaps even creator) of the specialized knowledge the AI employee could internalize once and use with amazing accuracy?
Have you started to talk about the pros and cons of licensing your content to AI programmers? Or could a member simply load your content in their AI's system – they same way they download on a computer?
We could go on and one playing with potential impacts and spinning them out.
What if your association is not about a profession? No worries.
Things like Ross are happening every day.
Regular wave watching is key for every association.
Where is your association in the process of regularly reading the waves of change?
Here are the three steps needed for you to launch.
Step 1: Identify your wave-reading team.
It’s best to have a mix of staff and volunteers. The different perspectives will make your wave reading analysis richer.
With today’s technology, it’s easy and affordable to hop on a live-stream and work together as if around a table.
NOTE: No one person should be responsible for wave reading. It’s too much for one person. You need the different perspectives. AND it’s a risk management issue.
(Of course, you can have a wave reading team captain to coordinate efforts. )
Step 2: Train your wave readers.
Training your team is key. Few people have learned these skills in school or work.
That said, almost anyone can learn how to read the waves of change. Regular practice builds speed and confidence.
Make sure your wave readers know how to:
Identify which waves to read.
You’ll want them exploring a mix of obvious and the changes just starting.
Training your team to read the waves early, gives your association leaders more time to be proactive – rather than playing catch up from a vulnerable place.
Analyze impact times three.
Wave readers need to be able to explore impact of impact of impact.
The third level of impact is where you’ll find a lot of opportunities and challenges.
Identify the big stories across waves.
Your wave readers need to be able to look at analysis of a few different waves of change, pull back and identify the big story – especially when relevant to your association.
There is a balance required between focus on details and big stories.
Step 3: Create and implement a regular schedule for reading the waves of change.
I strongly recommend monthly readings of the waves.
Change is happening too fast to look just quarterly or even worse once a year.
(Big data people predict the volume of information in the world will soon be doubling as fast as every two weeks.)
It’s time for your association to break free from the once a year strategic retreat and embrace reading the waves of change as a more normal part of being.
With a trained team, you don’t have to have everyone reading all the waves all the time.
A good size team also gives your association flexibility and richer points of view in analysis.
Ross, the AI bankruptcy lawyer, is neither the first or last wave of change with potential impact for your association.
He is simply a big one. And more are already here too.
Make getting your team of wave readers in place a priority in your association.
To help associations get their wave readers trained, I’m launching a virtual Association Lifeguard Training program.
The first class teaches participants how to read the waves of change and do all the impact times three work. Classes start in April.
I’m also launching an Association Wave Readers Crew.
We’ll get together virtually once a month for an hour to do wave reading analysis.
Participants will practice their skills together – and work with association leaders from across organizations creating a much richer analysis.
To learn more about the Association Lifeguard Training Program or the Wave Readers Crew, go here.
Keep hanging with us at Wake Up Wednesdays. We’ll be delving into more ideas to help your association as we move forward.
Yours in Riding the Waves of Change Together!
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