John Rizner Of Filevine: How AI Is Disrupting Our Industry, and What We Can Do About It

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Be curious. The pace of technological change is rapid, and it’s essential to stay informed about the AI tools that are reshaping your industry. Make a habit of reading about the latest developments, attending relevant conferences or webinars, and engaging in discussions with colleagues who are also exploring these technologies. For example, when I heard about the potential of large language models in the legal field, I dove in to learn as much as I could. That curiosity is key to staying ahead of the curve.

Artificial Intelligence is no longer the future; it is the present. It’s reshaping landscapes, altering industries, and transforming the way we live and work. With its rapid advancement, AI is causing disruption — for better or worse — in every field imaginable. While it promises efficiency and growth, it also brings challenges and uncertainties that professionals and businesses must navigate. What can one do to pivot if AI is disrupting their industry? As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing John Rizner.

John Rizner, a graduate of The University of Chicago Law School with a Juris Doctor, has an extensive background in corporate law and a strong focus on legal technology. His expertise includes practicing as an attorney in New York and Utah, guiding companies through complex mergers and acquisitions, as well as advising on financing transactions. John has played a crucial role in evaluating and implementing technology solutions, including machine learning and generative AI products, at a major law firm. His insights into the integration of AI in legal practice were showcased in his public continuing legal education presentations, particularly on the use of large language models and machine learning in corporate legal practice. Currently, as the Head of AI Legal Drafting at Filevine, John combines his legal expertise with a deep understanding of AI to innovate in the field of legal technology.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

My journey to this specific career path was shaped by a combination of my legal background and a growing fascination with the potential of artificial intelligence in the legal industry.

When I started my career in New York as a young finance attorney, some of the firm leadership was beginning to discuss how machine learning and AI were poised to transform the practice of law. They envisioned AI taking on tasks traditionally handled by junior associates, such as initial due diligence reviews. This sparked my interest in the intersection of law and technology.

Fast forward a few years, and I found myself practicing corporate law in Utah just as commercially viable large language models were becoming widely accessible. I began experimenting with these AI tools to assist in reviewing and drafting legal documents. It quickly became apparent that these language models, with their ability to read, understand, analyze, and generate language, could significantly enhance the efficiency and accuracy of legal work.

Inspired by the potential, I started sharing my insights with the legal community. I presented continuing legal education (CLE) sessions to sections of the Utah State Bar, demonstrating how large language models could be effectively and responsibly integrated into legal practice.

Driven by a desire to apply these powerful AI tools at scale, I joined Filevine. Here, I have the opportunity to help legal practitioners nationwide harness the power of AI to streamline their work and deliver better results for their clients. It’s an exciting time to be at the forefront of this technological revolution in the legal industry, and I’m thrilled to play a role in shaping its future.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What makes Filevine stand out is our ability to deliver cutting-edge AI tools that are solving real problems for legal practitioners today. We’re not just talking about the potential of AI — we’re creating solutions that are already achieving incredible efficiency gains for our users.

As an example, when I was a young finance attorney, I remember spending countless hours comparing the legal and economic details across various deal documents. Whether it was a letter of intent versus a credit agreement, or a private placement memo versus an indenture, ensuring all the details were consistent could take hours. And at hundreds of dollars per billable hour, it was an expensive process for clients as well.

At Filevine, we’ve developed technology that can perform that same document review and comparison in just minutes. What used to be an hours-long, costly task for the attorney is now achievable with a few clicks. By automating this type of routine legal work, we’re empowering lawyers to focus on higher-value strategic and advisory work for their clients.

It’s innovations like this, grounded in an understanding of the day-to-day realities and pain points of legal practice, that set Filevine apart. We’re not just chasing the latest AI trend — we’re thoughtfully applying the technology to make a tangible difference for legal professionals and their clients, right now. That commitment to harnessing innovation to solve real industry challenges is at the heart of what makes Filevine unique.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Three character traits that have been instrumental to my success are curiosity, openness to experimentation, and big-picture thinking.

Curiosity has driven me to constantly seek out and learn about new ideas and technologies, even when they may seem far removed from my day-to-day work as an attorney. For example, when I first heard about the potential of large language models and machine learning, I was fascinated and dove in to learn as much as I could, even though at the time these technologies seemed very distant from the practice of law. But that curiosity and drive to understand opened my eyes to the immense potential for these tools to transform legal work.

Openness to experimentation has been key to figuring out how to actually apply new technologies like AI in a useful way. A lot of my most helpful learning came through hands-on trial and error — testing to see what types of legal documents or clauses could be effectively drafted by the AI models, seeing what worked and what didn’t. I remember experimenting with some of the early large language models and realizing that while they struggled to draft a complex long-form agreement from scratch, they could very effectively generate ancillary deal documents like bills of sale by working off some key inputs. That type of experimentation was essential to finding the right use cases.

Finally, big-picture thinking has helped me see where the legal industry is heading and the transformative impact technologies like AI could have. Law has historically been an artisan-style profession, with young lawyers learning through an apprenticeship model and work being meticulously handcrafted by experienced attorneys. But we’ve seen how mechanization and technology can fundamentally change artisan industries. By taking that big-picture view, I’ve been able to anticipate how AI might reshape the practice of law and position myself to be on the forefront of that wave of change. Seeing that bigger context has been crucial to proactively preparing for this AI-driven future.

Let’s now move to the main point of our discussion about AI. Can you explain how AI is disrupting your industry? Is this disruption hurting or helping your bottom line?

AI is profoundly disrupting the legal industry, and this disruption is poised to fundamentally change the economics of how many law firms operate. Traditionally, the practice of law has been driven by the skills of legal research, reading, writing, and analysis. These tasks are typically done by attorneys and other team members individually diving through case files, due diligence folders, case law, and other long, complex legal texts. It’s a time and labor intensive process.

However, the emergence of large language models and other AI technologies is radically changing this equation. These AI tools are incredibly adept at reading and understanding complex legal texts, and then generating sophisticated written outputs — the core skills that have historically been the domain of human lawyers. What used to take an attorney hours to research and draft can now be accomplished by AI in mere minutes.

This has immense implications for the prevailing business model in much of the legal industry. Many law firms rely on a billable hour model, where clients are charged based on the time spent by attorneys working on their case. But as AI makes those billable tasks dramatically faster and more efficient, it puts pressure on that traditional model.

So in some ways, AI is a disruptive threat to the bottom line of law firms who don’t adapt. Work that used to mean hours of billable time can now be done in a fraction of the time. But for forward-thinking firms, AI is also an incredible opportunity. By leveraging these technologies, firms can take on more clients and cases, and provide better, faster, more cost-effective service. AI can also free up attorneys to focus on higher-value, more strategic work.

At our company, we’re squarely in the camp of seeing AI as an opportunity. By developing AI-powered tools specifically designed for the legal industry, we’re helping law firms harness this technology to be more efficient, serve clients better, and ultimately be more successful in this new era. The disruption is real, but so is the potential. It’s an exciting time to be at the forefront of this transformation.

Which specific AI technology has had the most significant impact on your industry?

The specific AI technology that has had the most profound impact on the legal industry is large language models. These AI models, trained on vast amounts of text data, have developed a remarkable ability to understand, analyze, and generate human-like text.

For the legal field, this capability is transformative. Much of legal work involves reading complex documents like contracts, legal briefs, medical records, and case law to extract key information and insights. Large language models can process and “read” these documents at a speed and scale that would be impossible for human attorneys.

But beyond just reading, these models can also draft legal documents. For example, let’s say an attorney is representing a client who was injured in a car crash. The attorney would need to review the client’s medical records to understand the extent of the injuries and then draft a demand letter to the insurance company outlining those injuries and the associated costs.

With large language model technology, much of this process can be automated. The AI can analyze the medical record and provide a clear summary of the client’s injuries. It can then generate a draft demand letter that articulates those injuries and makes the case for compensation.

This ability to both read and write complex legal documents with a high degree of nuance and accuracy is why large language models are so impactful. They’re taking on core legal skills that have traditionally required years of training and practice to master.

Of course, this doesn’t mean lawyers are obsolete. Far from it. But it does mean that AI can handle much of the routine, time-consuming legal work, freeing up attorneys to focus on higher-level strategy, client counseling, and complex legal analysis.

So while there are many exciting AI technologies out there, it’s large language models that are really driving the transformation of the legal industry. We’re just scratching the surface of what these tools can do, and it’s exhilarating to be part of figuring out how to harness their potential to improve legal services for everyone.

Can you share a pivotal moment when you recognized the profound impact AI would have on your sector?

A pivotal moment for me was when I was a practicing attorney reviewing a contract for potential red flags on behalf of a client. Out of curiosity, I decided to also have a large language model AI system review the same contract to see what it would find.

To my surprise, not only did the AI catch all the same red flags I had identified in my own analysis, but it also surfaced several material items that I had missed during my review. These were not minor details — they were significant terms that could have had a real impact on our client if overlooked in the final agreement.

That was the moment when the potential of AI in the legal field really crystallized for me. Seeing the AI system not just match but exceed my own capabilities, even in a domain as complex and nuanced as contract law, was eye-opening. It made me realize that this technology wasn’t just a novelty or a tool for simple tasks — it had the potential to fundamentally transform how legal work is done.

How are you preparing your workforce for the integration of AI, and what skills do you believe will be most valuable in an AI-enhanced future?

At our company, we’re taking a proactive approach to preparing our workforce for the AI-driven future. A key part of this is fostering a culture of experimentation and continuous learning. We encourage our teams and customers to dive in and start applying AI technologies to their work, to see firsthand where efficiencies can be gained and how their roles might evolve. It’s about being willing to fail, learn from those failures, and iterate.

We’ve set up small, cross-functional groups where ideas on AI applications are shared, tested, and developed. These groups bring together people from different product teams, ensuring a diversity of perspectives as we navigate this new landscape. The goal is to create a space for innovation.

The pace of change with AI is rapid, and the specific tools and techniques are constantly evolving. The most successful professionals will be those who can continually learn, adapt, and find new ways to leverage AI to enhance their work.

What are the biggest challenges in upskilling your workforce for an AI-centric future?

One of the biggest challenges in upskilling any workforce for an AI-centric future is overcoming the inertia of established workflows and mindsets. Legal professionals in particular are accustomed to certain ways of working, and there can be hesitancy to change processes that have been in place for years or even decades.

Even when the benefits of AI are clear, there’s often a learning curve as legal teams adapt to integrating these new tools into their day-to-day work. It requires a shift from seeing AI as a separate, standalone technology to viewing it as an integral part of the legal workflow.

What ethical considerations does AI introduce into your industry, and how are you tackling these concerns?

Ethical considerations are absolutely front and center as we develop and deploy AI technologies in the legal industry. Law is a field with major confidentiality requirements and stringent ethical obligations, and we are acutely aware that any AI tools we create must uphold and reinforce these standards.

Attorneys, as our customers, are bound by strict duties of confidentiality to their clients. All of our technology is designed with this in mind, ensuring that the confidentiality of customer data — which is ultimately a lawyer’s confidential work product — is always protected. We employ state-of-the-art security measures and follow industry best practices for data privacy at every stage.

But beyond just the technical safeguards, we also recognize the importance of using AI ethically in legal practice. An AI system might be able to draft a persuasive legal argument, but it’s still the attorney’s responsibility to ensure that argument is being used in an appropriate and ethical manner. In onboarding and training our customers, we continually emphasize that attorneys must remain engaged and watchful for ethical issues as they leverage these powerful new tools.

What are your “Five Things You Need To Do, If AI Is Disrupting Your Industry”?

1 . Be curious. The pace of technological change is rapid, and it’s essential to stay informed about the AI tools that are reshaping your industry. Make a habit of reading about the latest developments, attending relevant conferences or webinars, and engaging in discussions with colleagues who are also exploring these technologies. For example, when I heard about the potential of large language models in the legal field, I dove in to learn as much as I could. That curiosity is key to staying ahead of the curve.

2 . Be willing to experiment. It’s not enough to just know about AI — you need to be ready to get your hands dirty and start applying it to your work. Don’t be afraid to test out new tools and see how they can enhance your workflows. When I began experimenting with using AI to draft legal documents, there was a lot of trial and error involved. But that hands-on experience was invaluable in figuring out where AI could make the biggest impact.

3 . Be OK with failures. As you experiment with AI, there will inevitably be setbacks and failures along the way. That’s part of the process. The key is to learn from those failures and use them to refine your approach. Consider setting up spaces specifically for this kind of experimentation, where it’s expected that not every idea will pan out. That freedom to fail is essential for innovation.

4 . Look to history to understand technological change. The disruption we’re seeing with AI today isn’t unprecedented — we can learn a lot from looking at how past technological revolutions have unfolded. Consider the industrial revolution in Europe. Before industrialization, manufacturing was dominated by artisan guilds, where skilled craftsmen handmade products through a long apprenticeship model. The rise of mechanization and factory production completely upended this system. While disruptive and painful for the artisan guilds, in the long run this technological shift led to massive increases in productivity and living standards as a whole.

We’re seeing a similar pattern with AI in industries like law. The traditional artisanal model of legal work, with young lawyers learning through an apprenticeship model and all work being custom-crafted by experienced attorneys, is being disrupted. AI tools can now handle many of the routine tasks that used to require intensive human labor. Just as the industrial revolution didn’t eliminate the need for human workers but rather changed the nature of their work, AI is likely to shift the role of professionals in fields like law. Attorneys will spend less time on routine tasks and more time on high-level strategy, client advising, and complex analysis. By understanding this historical pattern of technological disruption, we can gain insight into how AI is likely to reshape our industries and what the future might look like.

5 . Be flexible in your career. As AI changes the nature of work in your industry, be ready to adapt your skills and role. The most successful professionals will be those who can continually learn and find new ways to add value in an AI-enhanced landscape.

What are the most common misconceptions about AI within your industry, and how do you address them?

One of the biggest misconceptions about AI in the legal industry is that it will replace lawyers. There’s a fear that as AI tools become more sophisticated, they will make attorneys obsolete. But that’s simply not the case.

While AI can automate many routine legal tasks and enhance efficiency, it cannot replace the strategic thinking, complex analysis, and human judgment that are at the core of legal practice. AI is a tool — an incredibly powerful one — but it’s not a substitute for a skilled attorney.

Rather than replacing lawyers, AI is much more likely to change the nature of their work. Attorneys will spend less time on routine, time-consuming tasks like document review and drafting, and more time on high-level strategy, client advising, and complex problem-solving. AI will augment and enhance what lawyers do, not replace them entirely.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

I think alot about J. Bradford DeLong’s book “Slouching Toward Utopia. He ends his book with the thought that with the technological revolutions of the later part of the Industrial Revolution “we went from a world in which economic patterns formed a semistable backdrop of grinding mass poverty to one where the economy was constantly revolutionizing itself, entering into states of increasing prosperity via the discovery, development, and deployment of new technologies.”

This line resonates with me deeply as I think about the potential impact of AI on our society and economy. Just as the technological advances of the Industrial Revolution ushered in an era of unprecedented growth and prosperity, I believe AI has the potential to be a similarly transformative force, dramatically increasing productivity across knowledge industries like law.

Off-topic, but I’m curious. As someone steering the ship, what thoughts or concerns often keep you awake at night? How do those thoughts influence your daily decision-making process?

The thoughts that often keep me awake at night revolve around the potential unintended consequences of the AI revolution we’re in the midst of. While I’m deeply optimistic about the potential for AI to drive incredible advancements and create abundance, I’m also acutely aware that, like any powerful technology, it comes with risks that need to be thoughtfully managed.

When I look back at the Industrial Revolution, I see a period of incredible technological progress that led to dramatic improvements in living standards. But that progress also came with new dangers. The same mechanization that drove productivity gains in manufacturing also enabled industrialized warfare on a horrific new scale. The economic change, while positive in the long run, caused significant short-term social disruption and upheaval.

I wonder if we’re at a similar inflection point with AI. The technology is poised to bring immense benefits — but it will also inevitably be used in ways we can’t fully anticipate, with societal impacts we can’t perfectly predict. How do we harness the positive potential while mitigating the risks? What new dangers might emerge in an AI-centric world? How do we ensure the gains are shared broadly?

These are the questions that keep me up at night. And they absolutely shape my daily decisions. They drive me to be thoughtful and measured in how we develop and deploy AI tools. To prioritize safety, security, and ethics at every step. To proactively consider potential misuses or unintended effects. And to always keep the human impact at the center of what we do.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could start a movement, it would be to make education on large language models and other transformative AI technologies broadly accessible to everyone. The pace of change in AI is incredibly rapid, and these tools are poised to reshape nearly every aspect of our economy and society. But right now, knowledge about how these systems work and how they can be used is concentrated among a relatively small group of experts. I believe we need a society-wide effort to democratize this knowledge, to ensure that people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to understand, shape, and benefit from the AI revolution. This could involve everything from incorporating AI literacy into standard school curricula, to creating free online courses and resources, to funding public education campaigns. By empowering people with knowledge about these technologies, we can work to ensure the gains of AI are shared broadly, and that we’re all equipped to navigate the challenges and opportunities of this new era.

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.