The value of an AI assistant

If you’re a legal, tax and accounting, or risk and fraud professional, you may already be intrigued by the benefits of AI. You’re by no means alone. The “2024 generative AI in professional services report,” a survey of more than 1,100 individuals working internationally, explores the perceptions, usage, and impact that generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) has had on professional work. 

Among legal professionals in corporate departments, 88% believe they can apply it to their work. In comparison, 38% of corporate risk professionals stated they have been educated or trained in proper GenAI usage, and 49% of tax professionals expressed positive sentiments toward the future of GenAI.

Given how new this technology is, you may be asking yourself how to get started. One practical approach is seeking a trusted AI assistant. An AI assistant is a digital tool that uses GenAI to handle necessary but time-consuming tasks so professionals can focus on more profitable uses of their time. There’s a wide range of benefits an AI assistant can help with, from adding more time, reducing errors and risks, and improving decision making.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at all the ways a well-crafted AI assistant can help professionals add value by automating routine tasks, jumpstarting workflows, providing up-to-date information, powering research, uncovering insights, and forecasting scenarios.

Add more time and value

In our increasingly complex world, clients or colleagues often urgently need their cases or documents. Time has become ever more in short supply. In this digital age, information can be retrieved and delivered quickly. At the same time, a shortage of qualified talent requires many industries to do more with fewer resources. 

Another consideration is the value of AI. Professionals offer clients, whether internal or external, distinctive expertise — unique and valuable expertise. The best use of their time, then, is maximizing the use of that well-honed knowledge. Delivering high-quality guidance and useful insights is one of these professionals' main motivators; it makes their work engaging and rewarding.

Automating routine tasks

With an AI assistant, professionals can add more time and value to their practices by automating routine tasks and jumpstarting work processes.

These tasks can include assembling standard documents and contracts, collating presentations and reports, gathering data, sending informative emails, and even something as simple — yet complex — as determining which tasks need to happen and in what order. Handling grunt work like this is low value and often mundane. However, it still needs to be done — and done right. 

In that sense, repetitive tasks do have value. They can sometimes be the foundations of a professional’s workflow, even though it’s not the kind of value a professional gets paid to provide. An AI assistant can automate tasks like these, generating the needed work quickly and without requiring hours of a professional’s time. 

Jumpstarting work processes 

There are numerous ways well-designed AI technology can streamline workflow for professionals. That’s mainly because the power of GenAI originates not only in digital technology but also in language. AI’s natural-language processing (NLP) capabilities allow digital tools to “read” text and quickly provide a summary. 

One of the most valuable benefits of AI, regardless of profession, is document review. AI can search thousands of documents in seconds and identify data and language that any professional is specifically seeking. This ability is something that legal professionals may find particularly helpful since they typically must manage and understand numerous lengthy documents. Legal professionals can also use GenAI to mark up and summarize reference sources for ready use when conducting research and building cases. 

In addition, law firms or departments can create a first draft of contracts and agreements using GenAI. A professional using an AI assistant can pull in standard language and customize the terms of the agreement. GenAI can also help in the writing most professionals need to do.

Sometimes, when putting together a report or presentation, a professional can suddenly find themselves facing writer’s block — unsure of what they want or need to say. A good AI tool can help professionals uncover information and insights from professional journals, case law, or other sources appropriate to the profession. It should also be able to identify the source of that information so that they can verify its reliability — and give credit where it’s due. 

These automation capabilities can allow professionals to quickly and accurately create and review documents while reducing the time to do routine work, adding more time to improve client service, reduce human error, and further refine decision making.

Reduce errors and risk

Risk takes many forms, depending upon one’s profession. One of the most essential ways to mitigate risk, regardless of profession, is the ability to access timely, accurate information regarding changes in laws, regulations, court decisions, and best practices. These automated capabilities can reduce human error, another risk source for many professionals. 

Staying up to date

Professionals in nearly every field must keep track of ever-changing laws, rules, and regulations that their practices, businesses, or clients need to address. In the Thomson Reuters “Future of professionals” survey, 90% of respondents believe that an increasingly regulated world will significantly impact their profession in the future. 

For tax and audit professionals, for instance, keeping current on law changes is crucial for ensuring regulatory compliance. Failure to do so could result in hefty fines and penalties — and the possibility of losing valuable clients. However, keeping current can be extremely challenging, especially in situations where clients operate across international jurisdictions. 

Staying up to date on legislation and regulations has historically required time-consuming searching for relevant, authoritative sources, applying the research results to a specific situation, and then formulating the conclusion to present to the client or colleague. To identify and thus mitigate compliance risk and reduce human error related to noncompliance, professionals can use AI as part of tax compliance work. An AI assistant can also help monitor these changes and ensure the client maintains compliance. Furthermore, risk professionals can identify risks using AI to safeguard their organization.

Speaking of risk, it's worth pointing out that AI tools have risks of their own that professionals should keep in mind. Since it is a relatively new and continuously evolving technology, organizations will want to establish transparency, privacy, and data security protocols. They also should be sure that their AI assistant's information originates from reliable sources. 

Another important point to make is that AI algorithms are continuously “learning” with machine learning, getting better as the professional and the AI tool spend time collaborating. One of the benefits that AI provides in this regard is the ability to adapt to changing regulations, legislation, court decisions, and emerging precedents — all in real time as new and crucial information becomes available.

Powering research 

We’ve talked about how AI can turbo-charge tasks such as document reading, financial audit reviewing, and public records research, all while streamlining a professional’s workflow. An AI assistant — if it has proven itself reliable — can allow professionals to research a topic quickly so they can focus on strategic analysis and other added-value benefits.

This advantage of research with AI helps professionals reduce the amount of time needed to do mundane tasks. In return, professionals can use their valuable expertise to determine which part of their research will be used or discover new learnings they may have not been able to before.

Improve decision making

By helping professionals plow through large amounts of data and identify potential risks, an AI assistant’s value also comes from its ability to boost decision making. They can sort through evidence and detail to make quick, reliable determinations regarding the direction of a case, a potential instance of fraudulent activity, or changes in domestic or international regulations that could significantly impact a business’s operations. 

Uncovering insights 

Since every profession is awash in data and other information, every professional needs to separate the wheat from the chaff via data analytics, identifying the information that’s truly valuable to their work. With its capabilities of rapidly analyzing millions of documents and data points, a GenAI tool can reveal patterns, historical trends, and past cases that can help the professional develop insights to shed light on current cases and audits. 

Case in point: by providing these kinds of data analytics, an AI assistant can allow a tax and accounting professional involved with audit engagement to focus on applying their higher-value expertise to complex analyses, long-range strategies, and other decision-making circumstances. For government agencies involved in uncovering fraud, AI can pore through vast amounts of public records to identify patterns that could signify fraudulent activity or false positive alerts.

Forecasting scenarios 

AI isn’t only useful for revealing past insights — it can help illuminate future possibilities. It’s impossible to predict the future with certainty, of course. But, by identifying past patterns and noting real-time changes in laws and other sources of information, decision-makers can plot out more plausible future scenarios that can help them anticipate potential risks that their firms, businesses, or clients might need to plan for.

Choosing an AI assistant

There are so many benefits professionals should look for when considering an AI assistant. They’ll want to ensure that the AI assistant’s developer has experience in or at least demonstrable knowledge of the professional’s field. A truly valuable AI assistant should access reliable information when the professional’s needs involve trends, data, and other types of research. 

An AI assistant — and the company providing it — should also be able to prove that the tool will become even more helpful, accurate, and efficient in the future, evolving as one’s profession evolves. A question any professional should ask should be, will this tool help me uncover insights and meet challenges for situations that have yet to arise? With the latest technology, you should be able to clarify the complex.

Legal, tax and accounting, and risk and fraud professionals need an AI assistant that can help them in their everyday work. Let us show you CoCounsel from Thomson Reuters. A GenAI assistant, CoCounsel can perform sophisticated research and analyze dense, voluminous information — and then deliver reliable, accurate, and thorough answers as quickly as you need them.

We currently offer CoCounsel within our legal solutions, including Westlaw Precision and Practical Law Dynamic. Later this year, it will be available for incorporation into Checkpoint Edge and widely used third-party programs such as Microsoft 365 and various database management solutions. We will also be integrating CoCounsel into our existing and new products across all the professions we serve. 

With AI rapidly transforming the legal, tax and accounting, and risk and fraud professions, you can prepare for future complexities by signing up for our monthly AI e-newsletter that delivers the latest insights on generative AI. As the industry-leading technology company for decision-makers faced with an increasingly complex world, we are helping you chart a clear path to an exciting future. We’re empowering you to see further and provide more clarity to the organizations you serve at every turning point. 

We’ll continue innovating so that you can know today and navigate tomorrow.

CoCounsel: The GenAI for professionals

Trained by industry experts, ours is the only generative AI assistant built on 150 years of authoritative content