By: Kieran Woboditsch-Velasco

In the marble-floored lobbies of Canada’s top-tier law firms, from the revered halls of Osler to the bustling offices of BLG and Gowling, a quiet revolution is underway. It’s not one shaped by sweeping judgments or landmark cases, but by the steady hum of machines and the power of algorithms. The leader of this revolution? Generative Artificial Intelligence, more commonly known as generative AI.

Recent surveys illuminate the burgeoning curiosity and acceptance of this technology among the legal community. A staggering 82% of lawyers, when questioned about the applicability of generative AI in legal work, responded with a resounding affirmation.[1] Delving deeper into these statistics, 51% not only see its potential but advocate for its direct use in the field, juxtaposed against a mere 25% who remain on the fence, unsure of AI’s place in the courtroom or law office.[2]

While this dramatic shift towards tech-driven solutions may appear as a surprise to some, it has been a long time coming. For those acquainted with the pulse of the industry, the writing has been on the wall. Greg Lambert, Chief Knowledge Officer at Jackson Walker LLP, succinctly captured this sentiment with a saying that has since gained traction among forward-thinking legal professionals: “AI won’t replace lawyers, but lawyers who use AI will replace lawyers who don’t”.[3]

Understanding Generative Pretrained Transformer-Model AIs: The Powerhouse Behind Modern Generative Systems

Generative AI is transforming our digital interactions through its unique ability to create new content. At its core, it’s about producing original text and imagery that goes beyond simple mimicry.[4] This innovation stems from massive datasets, encompassing billions of human-made examples from the internet, which teach the AI about language and visual patterns.[5] The real game-changer is transformer technology, which uses this learned information to convert vague prompts into detailed creations.[6] It’s like an artist who, instead of facing a blank canvas, draws upon a vast memory of styles and techniques to create a piece that truly captures your vision.

How Generative AI could be used for law firms and lawyers?

1. Legal Research Tools: Beyond Conventional Searches

Gone are the days when legal professionals relied solely on the manual inputs of terms, connectors, and post-search filters. Generative AI, through its language models (LLMs), has brought forth a sea of change in how research can be approached. Instead of mere term-based searches, these tools allow for conversational search, which mirrors the dynamics of human interaction.[7]

Imagine a scenario where instead of typing in disjointed keywords in your search bar, you’re having a dialogue with your research tool, refining your inquiry through back-and-forth exchanges. LLMs empower legal professionals by:

  • Pinpointing pertinent case law and legal documents without resorting to complex Boolean commands.[8]
  • Swiftly generating concise and comprehensible summaries from sprawling legal documents.[9]
  • Offering predictions on legal outcomes, drawing from the vast history of precedent.[10]

2. AI as a Verification Mechanism

In the realm of legal research, sometimes the objective is not to uncover new information but to affirm what is already known. AI can be particularly useful in these instances, providing lawyers with concise summaries of case law and documents the AI is provided. This allows legal professionals to swiftly compare the AI-generated summaries with their own understanding, ensuring their interpretations are on solid ground. Such a tool is invaluable for double-checking the facts, reducing the risk of oversight in legal analysis.[11]

3. AI as the Starting Point: Diving into Background Information

Diving headfirst into legal research, especially with complex topics like capital cost allowance (CCA) in tax law, can be daunting and costly, especially when billable hours are a concern. Before navigating the intricate layers of such topics, attorneys often need a foundational grasp. Generative AI emerges as a valuable reconnaissance tool in this scenario. By prompting the AI to explain CCA in layperson’s terms, or any other topic for that matter, lawyers can efficiently gain a basic understanding. This understanding positions them for more in-depth research, ensuring they approach the subject matter with clarity and confidence while optimizing their time and resources. [12]

The Benefits of Generative AI in General

As generative AI continues its inroads into various professional sectors, its transformative potential becomes undeniably evident. The legal domain, renowned for its intricate processes and painstaking attention to detail, stands to gain immensely from the adoption of this advanced technology. Here are some of the paramount benefits that generative AI promises to the legal world:

1. Time Savings

The old adage, “time is money,” rings particularly true in the legal sector. Generative AI, with its rapid data processing and content generation capabilities, acts as a catalyst, streamlining tasks that would otherwise consume hours, if not days. From drafting preliminary research notes to analyzing case histories, AI’s efficiency promises a drastic reduction in time spent on mundane tasks.[13]

2. Amplified Productivity

The inherent promise of AI isn’t just about doing things faster, but also doing them better. Studies focusing on the application of generative AI in professional writing tasks unveiled astounding results. Notably, professionals using generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, exhibited a 37% acceleration in task completion compared to their counterparts.[14]Even more impressive, as these professionals continued to integrate AI into their workflow, the quality of their output not only matched but, over time, surpassed those not utilizing AI. In essence, with generative AI, the legal community doesn’t have to compromise quality for speed—they can achieve both.[15]

3. Anticipated Advantages 

While the immediate perks of generative AI are tangible, its long-term ramifications on the legal industry are even more profound:

  • Swift and Precise Data Extraction: The sheer volume of documentation lawyers grapple with is colossal. Generative AI empowers legal professionals to rapidly pinpoint and extract vital information from these vast repositories, ensuring that no critical detail is overlooked.[16]
  • Refocusing on High-Value Tasks: With automation handling the heavy-lifting, attorneys can redirect their efforts towards tasks that truly matter, such as crafting strategies, client consultations, and courtroom presentations. This transition not only augments the quality of legal service but also enhances job satisfaction among legal professionals.[17]
  • Bridging the Justice Gap: One of the most profound impacts of generative AI might be its potential to democratize access to legal services. The efficiency and cost-effectiveness that AI introduces can pave the way for more affordable legal assistance, addressing the longstanding issue of limited access to justice for many. With wider adoption of generative AI, the legal industry could witness a radical transformation in service delivery, making justice accessible and affordable for all.[18]


The legal profession stands at the precipice of monumental change, driven by the force of generative AI. Canadian law firms, recognizing this, are embracing a shift from traditional methods to a future augmented by AI’s efficiency, precision, and expansive reach. Generative AI doesn’t aim to replace human expertise but to amplify it. By streamlining rote tasks and democratizing access to legal services, AI holds the potential to reshape the landscape of legal practice. As we venture forward, the sentiment rings true: the future of law lies in the harmonious collaboration of human judgment and machine intelligence.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this response is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. The content provided does not create a legal client relationship, and nothing in this response should be considered as a substitute for professional legal advice. The information is based on general principles of law and may not reflect the most current legal developments or interpretations in your jurisdiction. Laws and regulations vary by jurisdiction, and the application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts and circumstances involved. You should consult with a qualified legal professional for advice regarding your specific situation.

[1] Thomson Reuters Institute, ChatGPT and Generative AI within Law Firms: Law firms see potential, eye practical use cases and more knowledge around risks (Toronto: Thomson Reuters, 2023)

[2] Ibid.

[3] Suzanne McGee, “Generative AI and the Law: AI is here already – with the power to change the legal profession” (2023), online: <>

[4] Michael Murray, “Artificial Intelligence and the Practice of Law Part 2: Working With Your New AI Staff Attorney” (14 June, 2023). online: <>.

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] LexisNexis, “Generative AI for Lawyers: What It Is, How It Works, and Using It for Maximum Impact” (22 May 22, 2023).

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Murray, Supra note 4 at 3.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Natalie Pierce & Stephanie Goutos, “Why Lawyers Must Responsibly Embrace Generative AI” (14 June, 2023). online: <> at 21.

[14] Ibid at 24.

[15] Ibid at 21.

[16] Ibid at 23. 

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid at 25.