Artificial intelligence has been shaking up countless industries, and legal is no exception. While many are wary of how much impact AI will truly have, one thing is for certain: its applications will be able to do work normally done by humans in a much faster and efficient way. For lawyers, AI brings about the chance to focus on the high-level critical thinking that lies at the heart of what it means to practice law.
What is artificial intelligence?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is using the power of computers to complete tasks that are typically completed by people. Beyond manual processes, these are related to the items which require human intelligence. The term artificial intelligence is often used in conjunction with the phrase machine learning, where computers use algorithms to analyze data and detect patterns to predict future accurate responses.
This doesn’t mean the job market will be decreasing. In fact, it will free up time from the repetitive, seemingly administrative tasks lawyers handle to allow them to focus on more in-depth legal work. As a recent Forbes article notes, the biggest impact of AI on the legal sector will be in the way it “augments what humans do and frees them up to take on higher-level tasks such as advising to clients, negotiating deals and appearing in court”.
Impact of AI in the legal industry
While the legal industry has been slow (or cautious) to accept the power of AI and the possibilities it brings, there are certain areas where change has already started and that stand to be the most impacted.
Legal Research & Due Diligence
Nearly every case requires a due diligence check to determine what case law and prior outcomes could impact a current suit. Finding relevant cases, conducting a background investigation into specific companies and individuals and even predicting the outcome of litigation are all tasks that can be handled by AI. These are often the most tedious for lawyers, so having this option available allows lawyers to interpret the findings of AI and apply them to their case without having to go into the trenches to find the information.
Systems such as Ross Intelligence have been designed to search for specific words or phrases, utilizing natural language processing to sort through documents. A search with similar systems provides recommended reading, case law, and resources, including citations, that play into the due diligence research process. This type of work will help eliminate many of the common due diligence errors, which are often the result of lack of time to conduct a thorough investigation.
Document and Contract Review
AI can sort through documents in a fraction of the time it would take a human to do so, saving clients thousands of dollars. As documents are flagged as relevant, AI can apply machine learning to determine what else should be noted as important.
This is especially helpful for firms that are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of contracts they’re responsible for, with a lack of uniformity making it even more difficult to catch potential issues. AI solves this problem by easily picking up on deviations from standard contract wording, pointing out changed areas or sections where lawyers should give a more thorough review. A recent study showcased the effectiveness of AI in these situations, where AI was found to have a 94% accuracy level in comparison to a lawyer’s 86% when it came to assessing risks in NDAs.
E-Discovery and Predictive Coding
Sorting through documents during e-discovery can take months depending on the volume of product available. With predictive coding, a sample set of data is entered into the system where examples of relevant and non-relevant documents are uploaded for reference. Based on this, AI can go through and locate appropriate data more efficiently than traditional, Boolean-based logic.
The Future of AI
Given the power of AI, it can be easy to wonder why its adoption isn’t more wide-spread. A large factor in its limited use is the cost. AI can be extremely expensive and currently, it’s mostly large firms with budgets to match who are leveraging this technology to their benefit. It’s also extremely complex and can be difficult to set up and engage with accurately.
As time goes on, the costs associated with AI will likely fall while ease of use increases, opening the doors for more firms to take advantage of its capabilities.