ABA Journal

Existing methods of accessing knowledge will coexist with generative

As generative artificial intelligence stormed the scene over the past year with its snazzy Q&A interface, it was fair to ask whether existing ways of accessing knowledge, such as keyword search or templates, would become redundant.

After all, why would you need those old ways of tracking down specific pieces of knowledge if you can just ask the all-knowing AI to call it up for you?

The fact is, there are different entry points into knowledge, depending on what someone is trying to do. Far from fading into obscurity, old ways of accessing knowledge will continue to provide value and will coexist with generative AI.

Different approaches

Imagine a seasoned associate who needs to find the best starting point for drafting a bulletproof New York City commercial real estate lease. Nobody, even an experienced lawyer, likes to start with a blank piece of paper.

If they already know the specific template they want to use—perhaps even down to the document number assigned to that template—a generative AI interface might not add that much value or save them that much time. They know what they’re looking for, and they can quickly and easily call up that resource in the firm’s document management system. Using generative AI would be overkill in this scenario—a bit like asking generative AI to take you to the website for the IRS rather than just typing in IRS.gov.

Now imagine a very different scenario: A first-year associate is looking for the best resource for that same commercial real estate task, but they don’t even know where to start as far as what resources are available for them to draw upon. Moreover, they don’t know what they don’t know—i.e., they don’t know what specific knowledge assets are available that could be relevant to the task at hand.

A generative AI-powered Q&A interface could be hugely valuable here and a real time-saver—but some prep work needs to occur beforehand to make sure it is serving up the best results...

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