Tag Archives: virtual legal assistants

Virtual Legal Assistants

In this article, we discuss virtual legal assistants (VLAs). We answer questions like, “What are virtual legal assistants?”, “What services do they offer?”, “What are the benefits of using virtual legal assistants?”, and “What are the limitations?”. We also have a look at some statistics.

What are virtual legal assistants?

When we read articles on virtual legal assistants, we discover that the term is used in different ways. Some definitions restrict it to physical persons who work remotely and to whom purely administrative tasks are outsourced. Most authors also include the work of (remote) paralegals, while others also include all the services offered by third-party (or alternative) legal service providers who may use AI-powered or technology-driven platforms like bots. So, in its widest sense, a virtual legal assistant is an assistant that remotely assists lawyers, law firms, and legal professionals with various tasks and processes. They typically work as subcontractors for the law firm.

What services do they offer?

Virtual legal assistants offer a wide range of services. They can streamline and facilitate client communications and interactions. E.g., they can answer frequently asked questions and provide updates on case status, while maintaining confidentiality and security. They can personalize client engagement. And if you work with VLA bots and/or with physical people in different locations, they can guarantee 24/7 availability and instant responses.

Virtual legal assistants can enhance legal research. They can help lawyers find relevant case law, statutes, regulations, and legal articles to support their arguments and build stronger cases. They provide instant access to legal knowledge.

VLAs can assist in drafting legal documents such as contracts, agreements, pleadings, and other legal correspondence, often by generating templates or suggesting content based on context. One area where VLA bots have been proven very useful is contract review. They can review contracts, highlight important clauses, identify potential risks, and ensure compliance with relevant laws.

Virtual legal assistants also contribute to facilitating and optimizing case management and workflow. They can organize and manage case-related information, deadlines, and tasks, streamlining the workflow for lawyers and legal teams. VLA bots can provide automated case updates.

Other areas where VLAs are useful include bookkeeping, billing, and time tracking. They can help lawyers track billable hours and manage invoicing for clients.

You can also hire a VLA for data entry.

There is the aspect of due diligence, as well. Virtual legal assistants can assist in conducting due diligence for mergers, acquisitions, or other transactions by analysing legal and financial data.

VLA bots are also useful for legal analytics. They can analyse large sets of legal data and provide insights into trends, patterns, and potential outcomes.

Finally, there is E-discovery. VLA bots can help with the process of identifying, collecting, and analysing electronically stored information (ESI) for litigation purposes.

Some statistics

There are plenty of interesting statistics available when it comes to virtual assistants. Here is a selection.

  • Virtual assistants can decrease operating costs by up to 78%.
  • Investing in virtual assistants cuts the attrition by 50%. (The attrition rate pertains to the number of people resigning from an organization over a period of time).
  • Virtual assistants increase productivity by 13%.
  • According to a survey by the American Bar Association, 26% of lawyers use virtual assistants or paralegals. The 2020 Legal Trends Report found that law firms only spend an average of 2.5 hours each day on billable work, which can be improved by delegating work to legal virtual assistants.
  • A study by the University of Oxford found that 23% of legal work can be automated by existing technology, and that virtual assistants can handle tasks such as document review, contract analysis, due diligence, and research.
  • A report by Deloitte estimated that 39% of legal jobs will be replaced by automation, and that virtual assistants will play a key role in enhancing productivity, efficiency, and accuracy.
  • A survey by LawGeex found that virtual assistants can review contracts faster and more accurately than human lawyers. The average accuracy rate for virtual assistants was 94%, compared to 85% for human lawyers. The average time for virtual assistants to review a contract was 26 seconds, compared to 92 minutes for human lawyers.
  • According to Gartner, by 2023, virtual legal assistants (VLAs) will field 25% of internal requests to legal departments at large enterprises, increasing operational capacity for in-house corporate teams.
  • A survey by Virtudesk found that 82% of business owners who hired virtual assistants reported increased productivity and efficiency, and 78% said they saved money on operational costs.

What are the benefits of using virtual legal assistants?

We listed the tasks virtual legal assistants can do above. By delegating these tasks to a virtual legal assistant, you can free up your time and focus on the core aspects of your practice, such as strategy, advocacy, and client relations. As such, they increase efficiency and productivity.

You can also reduce your overhead costs, as you only pay for the services you need, when you need them. You don’t have to worry about hiring, training, supervising, or providing benefits to an in-house staff member. In other words, they can also be a more cost-effective solution compared to hiring additional staff for administrative tasks. (Cf. the statistics quoted above).

A virtual legal assistant can also offer you flexibility and convenience, as they can work from anywhere and often at any time. You can access their services on demand, without being limited by office hours or location. You can also communicate with them through various channels, such as phone, email, chat, or video conferencing. VLA bots work 24/7.

There also is the access to technology aspect. AI virtual legal assistants can automate repetitive tasks. They can leverage advanced AI and technology and may provide access to powerful tools that may not be affordable or available to smaller law firms.

Virtual legal assistants increase accuracy. Especially AI-driven assistants can often perform tasks with a high level of accuracy and consistency, reducing the likelihood of human errors. (Cf. our article on when lawyers and robots compete).

Scalability is another benefit. Working with VLAs allow you to easily adapt to the changing needs of your law practice, whether it’s handling increased workloads during busy periods or scaling down during quieter times.

What are the limitations?

While virtual legal assistants can be valuable tools, they are not meant to replace human lawyers. Instead, they complement legal professionals by enhancing their productivity and efficiency. It’s essential to consider the specific needs of the law practice and the capabilities of the virtual legal assistant platform before making a choice. They are meant to assist lawyers, not replace them.

Another thing to keep in mind is that at present most of the VLA bots are only available in English.


The use of virtual legal assistants is on the rise, and that should not come as a surprise. They boost efficiency, productivity, are cost-effective, and allow lawyers to focus on legal work.




Generative AI

In a previous article, we talked about ChatGPT. It is a prime example of generative AI (artificial intelligence). In this article, we will explore generative ai a bit more in detail. We’ll answer questions like, “What is Generative AI?”, “Why is Generative AI important?”, “What can it do?”, “What are the downsides?”, and “What are the Generative AI applications for lawyers?”.

What is Generative AI?

A website dedicated to generative AI defines it as “the part of Artificial Intelligence that can generate all kinds of data, including audio, code, images, text, simulations, 3D objects, videos, and so forth. It takes inspiration from existing data, but also generates new and unexpected outputs, breaking new ground in the world of product design, art, and many more.” (generativeai.net)

The definition Sabrina Ortiz gives on ZDNet is complementary: “All it refers to is AI algorithms that generate or create an output, such as text, photo, video, code, data, and 3D renderings, from data they are trained on. The premise of generative AI is to create content, as opposed to other forms of AI, which might be used for other purposes, such as analysing data or helping to control a self-driving car.” As such, Generative AI is a type of machine learning that is specifically designed to create (generate) content.

Two types of generative AI have been making headlines. There are programs that can create visual art, like Midjourney or DALL-E2. And there are applications like ChatGPT that can generate almost any desired text output and excels in conversation in natural language.

Why is Generative AI important?

Generative AI is still in its early stages and already it can perform impressive tasks. As it grows and becomes more powerful, it will fundamentally change the way we operate and live. Many experts agree it will have an impact that is at least as big as the introduction of the Internet. Just think of how much the Internet has become of our daily lives. Generative AI, too, is expected to become fully integrated into our lives. And it is expected to do so quickly. One expert predicts that on average we will have new and twice as powerful generative AI systems every 18 months. Only four months after ChatGPT 3.5 was released, on 14 March 2023, a new, more powerful, more accurate, and more sophisticated version 4.0 was released. The new version is a first step towards a multimodal generative AI, i.e., one that can work with several media simultaneously: text, graphics, video, audio. It can create output of over 25 000 words of text, which allows it to be more creative and collaborative. And it’s safer and faster.

Let us next have a look at what generative AI can already do, and what it will be able to do soon.

What can it do?

One of the first areas where generative AI was making major breakthroughs was to create visual art. Sabrina Ortiz explains, “Generative AI art is created by AI models that are trained on existing art. The model is trained on billions of images found across the internet. The model uses this data to learn styles of pictures and then uses this insight to generate new art when prompted by an individual through text.” These are five free AI art generators that you can try out for yourself:

We already know from our previous article that ChatGPT can create virtually any text output. It can write emails and other correspondence, papers, a range of legal documents including contracts, programming code, episodes of TV series, etc. It can assist in research, make summaries of text, describe artwork, etc.

More and more search engines are starting to use generative AI as well. Bing, DuckDuckGo, and You.com, e.g., all already have a chat interface. When you ask a question, you get an answer in natural language, instead of a list of URLs. Bing even gives the references that it based its feedback on. Google is expected to launch its own generative AI enabled search engine soon.

More specifically to programming, one of the major platforms for developers (GitHub) announced it now has an AI Copilot for Business which is an AI-powered developer tool that can write code, debug and give feedback on existing code. It can solve any issues it may detect in the code.

Google’s MusicLM already can write music upon request, and the new ChatGPT version 4 announced a similar offering, too. YouTube also has announced that it will start offering generative AI assistance for video creation.

Generative AI tools can be useful writing assistants. The article on g2.com, mentioned in the sources, lists 48 free writing assistants, though many of them use a freemium model. Writer’s block may soon be a thing of the past, as several of these writing assistants only need a key word to start producing a first draft. You even get to choose the writing style.

Generative AI can also accelerate scientific research and increase our knowledge. It can, e.g., lower healthcare costs and speed up drug development.

In Britain, a nightclub successfully organized a dance event where the DJ was an AI bot.

All existing chatbots can get an upgrade where they will become far better at natural language conversations. And generative AI integrated with the right customer processes will improve customer experience.

As you can see, even though we’re only at the beginning of the generative AI revolution, the possibilities are endless.

What are the downsides?

At present, generative AI tools are mostly tools that assist. The output needs to be supervised. Sometimes, ChatGPT, e.g., gives incorrect answers. Worse, it can just make things up, and an experiment with a legal chatbot discovered that the bot just started lying because it had concluded that that was the most effective way to get the desired end result. So, there are no guarantees that the produced output is correct. And the AI system does not care whether what it does is morally or legally acceptable. Extra safeguards will have to be built in, which is why there are several calls to regulate AI.

There also is an ongoing debate about intellectual property rights. If a program takes an existing image and merely applies one or more filters, does this infringe on the intellectual property of the original artist? Where do you draw the line? And who owns the copyright on what generative AI creates? If, e.g., a pharmaceutical company uses an AI tool to create a new drug, who can take a patent? Is it the pharmaceutical company, the company that created the AI tool, or the AI tool itself?

And as generative AI becomes better, it will transform the knowledge and creative marketplaces, which will inevitably lead to the loss of jobs.

Generative AI applications for lawyers

As a result of the quick progress in generative AI, existing legal chatbots are already being upgraded. A first improvement has to do with user convenience and user-friendliness because users can now interact with the bots through a natural language interface. The new generation of bots understand more and are also expected to become faster, safer, and more accurate. The new ChatGPT 4 scored in the 90th percentile for the bar exams, where ChatGPT 3 – only a few months earlier – barely passed some exams.

Virtual Legal Assistants (VLA) are getting more and more effective in:

  • Legal research
  • Drafting, reviewing, and summarizing legal documents: contracts, demand letters, discovery demands, nondisclosure agreements, employment agreements, etc.
  • Correspondence
  • Creative collaboration
  • Brainstorming, etc.

As mentioned before, at present these AI assistants are just that, i.e., assistants. They can create draft versions of legal documents, but those still need revision by an actual human lawyer. These VLAs still make errors. But at the same time, they can already considerably enhance productivity by saving you a lot of time. And they are getting better and better fast, as the example of the bar exams confirms.




Legal Technology Predictions for 2023

Towards the end of every calendar year, the American Bar Association publishes the results of its annual legal technology survey. Several legal service providers, experts, and reporters, too, analyse existing trends and subsequently make their own legal technology predictions for 2023. Some items stand out that most pay attention to. In this article, we will look at automation, artificial intelligence, cloud-native solutions, virtual legal assistants, data privacy and cybersecurity, crypto technologies, blockchain, and smart contracts. We will briefly pay attention to some other trends, as well.


Automation keeps being a major driver of change in many industries. The legal sector is no exception, even though it lags compared to many other sectors. Lawyers seem to take longer to catch up that automation is beneficial. It is making many processes in the legal industry faster, more efficient, and less expensive. Automation has proven to be successful in fields like legal research, e-discovery and document review and management. In 2023, we can expect to see this trend continue, with a renewed focus on automating the law firm administration and on the creation and review of legal documents. Automated workflows can be used to streamline legal processes, such as litigation support, e-discovery, and case management. Automation can also assist in organizing and tracking progress and regulatory changes, data collection, reporting, and communication. An increase in automation will help to improve the accuracy of legal processes, reducing the risk of errors, and increasing efficiency.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is becoming ubiquitous. In many aspects of our lives, there now are AI solutions available that make life easier. In the legal sector, too, AI is starting to make waves. In all the above-mentioned examples of automation, AI is playing a crucial role. As mentioned above, AI has already been successfully assisting lawyers with legal research, with process and workflow automation, with the generation of legal documents, as well as with e-discovery. But those are still fairly simple applications of AI. It can do far more. These days, AI is also being used to digest vast volumes of text and voice conversations, identify patterns, or carry out impressive feats of predictive modelling. The virtual legal assistants that we’ll discuss below, too, are all AI applications. If properly used, AI can save law firms much time and money. In 2023, we can expect to see a more widespread adoption of AI in the legal sector. (More on Artificial Intelligence and the Law).

Cloud-Native Solutions

Cloud computing has been a game-changer for many industries. Previous reports had already revealed that lawyers, too, are more and more relying on cloud solutions. This should not come as a surprise, as Cloud-based solutions provide many benefits, including reduced costs, increased scalability, and improved data security. They help lawyers and clients share files and data across disparate platforms rather than relying solely on emails. Additionally, cloud-based solutions are more accessible, allowing legal firms to work from anywhere and collaborate more effectively with clients and other stakeholders. In 2023, we can expect this trend to continue. (In the past, we have published articles on cloud solutions for lawyers, on managing your law firm in the cloud, an on lawyers in the cloud).

Virtual Legal Assistants (VLAs)

In the past, we have talked on several occasions about legal chatbots. Chatbots have sufficiently matured to now start playing the role of virtual legal assistants. VLAs are AI-powered chatbots that build on basic neural network computing models to harness the power of deep learning. They use artificial intelligence algorithms to assist law firms with various tasks. Gartner predicts VLAs can answer one-quarter of internal requests made to legal departments. They extend the operational capacity of law firms as well as of in-house corporate legal teams. As a result, they assist in reducing lawyers’ average response time and producing distinct service delivery efficiencies. Furthermore, as VLAs are a form of automation, all the benefits of automation apply here too: virtual legal assistants can help to improve the accuracy of legal work, reduce the risk of errors and increase efficiency. At present, virtual legal assistants are still primarily being used in uncomplicated and repetitive operations. Recent breakthroughs, however, indicate that they are already able to take on more complex tasks and will continue to do so.

Data Privacy and Cybersecurity

Ever since the GDPR, data privacy and cybersecurity have become increasingly important. In 2023, we can expect to see an ongoing emphasis on data privacy and as well as an increase in attention to cybersecurity in the legal sector. (The examples of high-profile Big Tech corporations receiving massive fines seem to be a good incentive). Law firms have understood that they too need to make sure that they have robust data privacy and cybersecurity measures in place to protect their clients’ confidential information. Several law firms also provide their clients assistance with the legal aspects of data protection.

Crypto technologies, Blockchain, and smart contracts

The market of cryptocurrencies was volatile in 2022. That did not stop an increase in interest in the underlying crypto technologies. Experts predict rises in a) regulation of cryptocurrencies and crypto technologies, in b) the adoption of cryptocurrency, c) a growing interest in decentralized finance (DeFi), and d) an increase in attempts at cryptocurrency taxation. We are already witnessing an intensification in litigation with regard to cryptocurrency and crypto technologies. This trend is expected to continue. Litigation about NFTs, e.g., is one of the areas where litigation is expected to rapidly increase.

Experts also expect an ongoing interest in and an increased adoption of Blockchain technology. Blockchain can be used to securely store and manage legal data, reducing the risk of data breaches and ensuring the integrity of legal records. Additionally, blockchain can be used to automate many legal processes, such as contract management and dispute resolution, by enabling the creation of smart contracts. As we mentioned in previous articles, smart contracts can streamline many legal processes, reducing the time and cost associated with contract management and dispute resolution. They can also help to increase the transparency and accountability of legal transactions, reducing the risk of fraud and improving the overall efficiency of legal processes.

Other Trends

The ABA survey report noticed that law firms are spending more money on legal technology than ever before. In many cases, this involved investing more in tightening cybersecurity.

The trend to work remotely and to use video conferencing for virtual meetings that started during the pandemic is ongoing.

More than ever before lawyers pay attention to their own work experience, as well as to the user experience for their clients by making their law firms more client centred. There is an ongoing focus on work-life balance, not only for the lawyers but also for the employees of law firms. Law firms are finally starting to consider things like employee satisfaction.

While billable hours remain the most used fee model, there has been a noticeable increase in lawyers using a subscription fee model.

Finally, the trend that law firms are increasingly hiring people with hybrid profiles is continuing. By increasing cognitive diversity, law firms want to close the gap between professionals with knowledge of legal matters and those with enough legal tech expertise to manage the digitization and automation of workflows. Gartner predicts that by the end of 2023, one third of corporate legal departments will have a legal tech expert in charge of managing the digital transformation and automation of internal processes. Large law firms are also increasingly hiring lawyers that are familiar with business administration.