Legal Advice on in-house AI tooling

Chris de RooijChris de Rooij
Written by
Chris de Rooij
May 30, 2024

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In the dynamic landscape of in-house legal business advice, a pragmatic and practical approach often proves fitting. In this article I aim to offer guidance to other in-house lawyers on how to advise your business regarding the implementation of AI tools and in doing so, prioritizing practicality over formality. It explores a high-level approach to advising your business that prioritizes real-world solutions over exhaustive checklists. It is important to note that while this approach can hold significant value for a lot of in-house lawyers, its contents may not be universally applicable across all organizations.

I don’t aim to present you with a comprehensive list of legal AI requirements, but I want to offer a practical guide on how to operate with a primary focus on fostering innovation and driving growth while still safely remaining within legal boundaries. I will explore a step-by-step operating guide that can empower legal professionals to navigate complexities while keeping their eyes on the prize: stimulating innovation within your organization.

Clear a Path

Firstly, an in-depth study on applicable laws in combination with the various applications of AI is evidently crucial. In formulating a solid legal opinion on integrating AI solutions within organizations, it's crucial to combine legal know-how with business insights. This means staying updated on AI-related laws and regulations to ensure compliance and manage risks effectively on the one hand and on the other gathering input from the business side. Understanding the organization's goals and desired outcomes helps tailor the legal advice to fit the specific needs and business objectives. By merging legal and business perspectives, the resulting opinion can provide clear guidance on the permissible uses and strategic benefits of AI applications, empowering informed decision-making within the organization.

Set the Stage

On to the next: a company policy on AI tooling. Formalizing your company's stance on AI solutions into a transparent AI policy is a basic step towards navigating the ever changing landscape of technology. This policy should embrace flexibility by keeping an open mind regarding AI strategy options, whether it involves purchasing market solutions or developing in-house. It's imperative to create a non-limited AI category list, encompassing a wide spectrum of potential applications to accommodate future advancements and innovations. The crux lies in enablement – understanding the business goals and desired outcomes of implementing AI tools.

By aligning AI initiatives with overarching business objectives, the policy can serve as a roadmap for strategic deployment. Needless to say, you need to address other critical components such as data privacy and security, intellectual property rights, ethical standards, transparency obligations, and the mitigation of bias. While covering these aspects comprehensively, maintain conciseness and relevance, avoiding unnecessary length that could hinder accessibility and practical application within your organization. Regular communication with key stakeholders ensures that the policy remains adaptive and responsive to the evolving needs of the business landscape. Also: try to implement the AI policy within the current policy framework of your organization. Find crossovers in procurement policies, software use guides and other related policies.

Get to Work

When it comes to either procuring or developing AI tools for your organization, early and active involvement from the legal team is paramount. If the strategic decision is to develop AI-tooling software in-house, it's crucial for you to be part of the strategy team from the outset. Similarly, if the decision is to procure AI-tooling software externally, legal involvement should be integrated into the procurement process to ensure compliance and risk mitigation, as well as adequate understanding of the project on your end.

The concept of "AI-awareness by design" should be ingrained in the development or procurement process, akin to the “privacy by design” principles of the well-known GDPR. Understanding the intricacies of what the AI tools will accomplish is essential for legal professionals. This requires active involvement in the creation process to ensure alignment with legal standards and organizational objectives.

Maintaining flexibility throughout the project is key, as innovation often occurs during implementation. Legal professionals should educate their colleagues about the importance of establishing a sturdy framework for the assessment of AI tools and should not hesitate to explain its significance.

Ultimately, the focus should be on the desired outcome (the product) itself rather than solely on applicable rules and regulations. Your advice should be pragmatic, solution-oriented, centered around ensuring that the AI tools meet the organization's needs while adhering to legal requirements and ethical standards. By prioritizing the product and its functionality, you can provide guidance that supports innovation and growth.

Stay on Engage

Your role as a legal professional doesn't end once the development or procurement process of AI tools is complete; it's essential to remain vigilant and proactive after the AI tools are implemented. Here are some key steps to staying on top of things:

Firstly, ensure you obtain comprehensive documentation and evidence of the approach followed during the development or procurement process. This serves as valuable reference material for future assessments and audits.

Secondly, gather feedback from colleagues, not only regarding the AI tools themselves but also on your own involvement in the process. Constructive criticism and insights can help refine your approach and enhance collaboration moving forward.

Thirdly, take the time to reflect on lessons learned from each project. Identifying successes and areas for improvement contributes to continuous growth and refinement of your legal strategies.

Stay informed about market best practices and legal developments in the field of AI. Keeping abreast of industry trends and regulatory changes allows you to adapt your approach accordingly and ensure compliance. You can use Openli’s interesting community pages for this 😉

Regularly update your strategy and policy documents to reflect evolving best practices and lessons learned from previous experiences as well as market developments.

Finally, remember to inject passion and enthusiasm into your work. You chose to pursue a career in law for a reason, so embrace that motivation and strive to deliver high-quality work enabling your organization on the road to success. After all, finding joy in your work is key to staying motivated and achieving successes together.

The Fun doesn’t Stop

With regard to legal advice in the AI era, our journey as lawyers is more like a rollercoaster ride than a stroll in the park! But hey, the fun doesn't stop when the paperwork is signed. It's all about staying on the ball, gathering feedback, and keeping our legal compasses pointing in the right direction.