These days, it seems like the number of AI solutions specific to the legal market is growing every week. Whether you want AI to help you with legal research, contract drafting, deposition preparation, or e-discovery, there’s an AI solution for you.

With so many solutions on the market — many of them with overlapping capabilities — it may seem difficult to choose the best products for your law firm’s needs. This task is particularly challenging because the marketing around these products is often vague about how the AI solutions work, where they pull information from, and how often they’re updated.

As you do the tough work of evaluating the various features of different solutions, it’s also critical to assess how these solutions may impact your data.

Here are four of the most important questions you should ask vendors about how their AI solutions use your data.

1. How does your AI solution use our law firm’s data?

This is a question that’s likely already top of mind for you, and it’s one that some AI solutions vendors address in their sales and marketing materials. But you’ll likely still need to ask about the details.

Some AI solutions may not have direct access to your firm’s data, but they will nevertheless gather data from your firm every time one of your professionals types in a prompt. Or, if the solution allows your team members to upload files, it will naturally have access to those files as well. Key questions you need to ask include:

  • How will the solution use that data?
  • Will your data inform the AI in a way that benefits other users?
  • Is there any risk that case matter information that you disclose in a prompt or file could be shared with users outside your firm?
  • Could information one of your lawyers enters be shared with other lawyers inside your firm who shouldn’t have access to that specific information? (More about this risk later on.)

2. Does your AI solution capitalize on our firm-specific data?

Solution providers are well aware of your concerns about your firm data being used by their AI, and they’ll likely emphasize that their solutions don’t access your firm’s underlying data.

But AI solutions that in fact access and rely on all your firm’s data have significant advantages over solutions that don’t access your data.

For example, imagine one of your firm’s lawyers asks a legal AI solution this question: “What’s a good due diligence checklist for reviewing a business acquisition?” A solution that doesn’t have access to your firm-specific data is going to generate a general answer to this query. But your firm may have its own specific approach to due diligence that you would want your associate to use instead.

Likewise, if a lawyer uses an AI solution to draft a brief, and the AI solution can’t access your firm’s data, the resulting brief may lack specific, useful language and analysis that your firm has created in related cases.

For reasons such as these, purchasing an AI solution that isn’t capitalizing on your firm-specific expertise, experience, and insights probably isn’t the best choice.

Microsoft Copilot and Microsoft Viva Topics avoid these pitfalls by drawing and learning from your firm’s own data. Microsoft Copilot provides answers and outputs that capitalize on your firm’s strengths and prior work product. And the AI in Microsoft Viva Topics pulls from your firm’s work to create topics, such as matters your firm has handled, and how your firm handles a particular type of matter (like a merger).

In addition, Microsoft Viva Topics surfaces insights without any direct prompting. That is, as your firm’s professionals chat on Microsoft Teams or create documents in Word, Viva Topics will suggest relevant information that informs what they’re working on.

You can learn more about the capabilities of Microsoft Viva Topics in the below video:

3. If your AI solution has access to all my law firm’s data, how does my data need to be structured so that your solution can effectively understand it?

AI tools that use and learn from your firm’s data offer powerful advantages. But these solutions will only achieve these benefits if they can make sense of your data. That’s why you should ask your prospective AI solution vendors how your data must be structured for their AI to interpret it.

When it comes to Microsoft Copilot and Viva Topics, the answer is clear: For these tools to operate effectively on top of your data, all your data must be in Microsoft SharePoint, and your data must be identified by client and matter codes. These codes give the AI the context it needs to distinguish between different matters and clients. Intapp Workspaces assigns these codes to your data so that Microsoft Copilot and Viva Topics can read it.

4. Will your AI solution recognize our firm’s ethical walls and avoid breaching them?

Even if your AI solution can tell the difference between different matters, there’s still the risk that an AI solution will surface information behind an ethical wall to a team member who shouldn’t see it.

Ask your candidate vendors whether and how their solution avoids this possibility.

Microsoft Copilot and Viva Topics won’t surface information a user isn’t permitted to see. Given this, it’s critical that your firm’s permissions are correctly set up. You also need a fail-safe in place in case one of your lawyers tries to give another firm member access to particular data without realizing that second attorney shouldn’t have access.

Intapp Walls enforces permissions across all applications, including Microsoft Copilot and Viva Topics. For example, if a team member tries to add another firm member who shouldn’t have access to the team, Intapp Walls alerts the team member of the issue.

Need help structuring and protecting your data for AI?

Once you’ve settled on an AI solution for your law firm, Intapp solutions are available to help you effectively deploy it. If the solution you choose capitalizes on your firm’s data, Intapp Workspaces structures your data so that your AI solution can understand it and provide valuable, accurate insights. With Intapp Walls, you can also set and automatically enforce your permissions so that you avoid unintended breaches of ethical walls. Schedule a demo to learn more.