Juno team enjoying LawFest24 (L-R): Mitch Julian, Anna Trotman, Jacqui Anderson, Wendy Chen and Helen Mackay


Overall, the themes coming through were surprisingly human-centric with AI viewed as supplementing rather than replacing human cognition. 

The opening speaker, Professor Moon of Vanderbilt Law School, examined how legal professionals can remain at the forefront of the law in the age of AI. It has become a trope to say “Lawyers who embrace AI will replace lawyers who don’t”. A significant number of lawyers believe AI will improve efficiency, with the Harvard Business Review placing law at the top of the professions most affected by AI. However, many firms have no concrete plans to adopt Generative AI, even though many staff would look to move to a more innovative firm. 

Professor Moon pointed out that much of what lawyers do such as draft, analyse, and develop precedents has been done by machines for some time, and predates AI. But to “advise, accompany, and advocate” is much less susceptible to automation. Generative AI is a potential opportunity to further liberate the legal profession for these more meaningful activities, in the sweet spot between technical feasibility, business viability and people’s needs. To best do this will require a mindset of experimentation, curiosity, collaboration and acceptance of uncertainty. 

Cat Casey, Chief Growth Officer at Reveal, also spoke of a collaborative interplay between humans and technology, with a mindset shift from AI to augmented intelligence and amplified human decision making. 

A similar belief in empathy and ease with uncertainty, together with self-awareness came through in Grant Herbert’s session on leadership. It isn’t necessary to know everything to lead but one does need to know oneself and be aware that one’s management style is often driven by one’s own weaknesses. 

Two law firm CEOs, Charles Spillane and Cecilia Burgess, discussed how to lead in a profession considered resistant to risk and change. They emphasised leadership by influence and persuasion, not authority, and the importance of logic, and of language when framing a problem. Any action plan has to be in the framework of an overall business strategy. 

He cited a PWC Global CEO survey where 45% of respondents believed their current business model would not be economically viable in 10 years.

Titus Rahiri, Founder and CEO of Korum Legal also referred to the risk-averse, precedent-based mindset in the legal profession. He cited a PWC Global CEO survey where 45% of respondents believed their current business model would not be economically viable in 10 years. He challenged the traditional law firm model of providing legal services, especially in New Zealand, pointing to static market share of the major law firms and global growth in the provision of Alternative Legal Service Providers. He provided five steps to in-house legal innovation: a legal operating model that aligns with that of the company, understanding existing systems, data and technology, measurable outcomes, a human-centric AI strategy and an agile, adaptive, mindset. 

An in-house panel reiterated the importance of the legal team being aligned to an active corporate strategy, clear communication, and “accompanying” business colleagues through change. 

Seshani Bala, GC KPMG, echoed earlier discussions of a brittle, anxious, unpredictable world and provided five tips for survival: be a life-long learner, communicate the reasons for change and upsides, do less and do it better or do more and do it differently (both with the aid of technology); plan for the known and unknown, and conquer resistance!  

Anna Trotman Juno Legal
Written by Anna Trotman, Juno Lawyer

It was reassuring to hear that, generally, people experience the world as uncertain and unpredictable; acceptance of this as a “given” and seeking to engage nonetheless increases resilience and an ability to cope with change.  

Alongside these talks, LawFest provided the opportunity to meet technology vendors offering a range of legal technology products. 

Thanks to all the speakers, sponsors, Andrew King, and the LawFest team. Our Juno team enjoyed the opportunity to gather, learn, and be inspired. 

We're already looking forward to LawFest25 on 6 March 2025. We look forward to seeing you there!