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Firms’ Back Offices Brace for Generative AI Impact “…While firms’ focus for now remains on how generative AI will change the delivery of legal services, its impact could be far broader. After all, law firms’ back-office functions won’t be immune from the technology’s disruptive potential. To be sure, exactly how generative AI developments will bolster—or threaten—non-legal jobs is still an open question. But some firm professionals are already preparing for how their capabilities could expand, and their responsibilities could shift, going forward. While some expect non-legal law firm roles to continue on in a different fashion—provided they can learn how to apply their skills in a new way—others predict a broader reshuffling of firms’ organizational charts. But some see a more complicated change, with generative AI blurring the lines between back-office functions, while encouraging more collaboration across different roles. How soon such changes could happen, however, will depend on firms’ own budgetary and training realities. But many are already expecting a future where generative AI plays a pivotal, albeit somewhat disruptive role….The possibility to expand non-legal departments’ bandwidth is also why Hunter Jackson, chief knowledge officer at McDermott Will & Emery, is optimistic about the impact that generative AI will have on his firm’s knowledge management function and the broader knowledge management field. Up until now, knowledge management professionals have only been able to touch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to collecting and organizing internal data. In fact, Jackson notes that these are resource-consuming projects and the team hasn’t had “time or the resources or anything to do 20 years worth of data…Take law librarians, for example. “One of the things that law librarians are really good at is understanding what people are actually needing in terms of information,” says June Liebert, president of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and director of information services at O’Melveny & Myers. In their work, law librarians often conduct “reference interviews” with legal professionals, which are meant to determine what kind of information a user may be looking for. Such experience could translate well into learning prompt engineering—the practice of creating, curating or refining the inputs that go into generative AI tools to produce the most useful outcome. For example, crafting a specific question to get a desired result in generative AI tool ChatGPT. “We’re really good at asking the right questions,” Liebert says. “So this is where the prompt engineering comes in. I feel like the law librarians are just absolutely natural prompt engineers.”

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