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Whenever a professional sector faces new technology, questions arise regarding how that technology will disrupt daily operations and the careers of those who choose that profession. And lawyers and the legal profession are no exception. Today, artificial intelligence (AI) is beginning to transform the legal profession in many ways, but in most cases 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.
Artificial intelligence mimics certain operations of the human mind and is the term used when machines are able to complete tasks that typically require human intelligence. The term machine learning is when computers use rules (algorithms) to analyze data and learn patterns and glean insights from the data. Artificial intelligence is a large factor shifting the way legal work is done.
AI-powered software improves the efficiency of document analysis for legal use and machines can review documents and flag them as relevant to a particular case. Once a certain type of document is denoted as relevant, machine learning algorithms can get to work to find other documents that are similarly relevant. Machines are much faster at sorting through documents than humans and can produce output and results that can be statistically validated. They can help reduce the load on the human workforce by forwarding on only documents that are questionable rather than requiring humans to review all documents. It’s important that legal research is done in a timely and comprehensive manner, even though it’s monotonous. AI systems such as the one offered by ROSS Intelligence leverages natural language processing to help analyze documents.
A big portion of work law firms do on behalf of clients is to review contracts to identify risks and issues with how contracts are written that could have negative impacts for their clients. They redline items, edit contracts and counsel clients if they should sign or not or help them negotiate better terms. AI can help analyze contracts in bulk as well as individual contracts. There are several software companies who created AI tools specifically for contract review such as Kira Systems, LawGeex and eBrevia that help sort contracts quicker and with fewer errors than humans.
AI has the capability of analyzing data to help it make predictions about the outcomes of legal proceedings better than humans. Clients are often asking their legal counsel to predict the future with questions such as “If we go to trial, how likely will it be that I win?” or “Should I settle?” With the use of AI that has access to years of trial data, lawyers are able to better answer such questions.
A typical divorce settlement can take a year or more and can cost $27,000 on average in the United States. With a goal of “making every divorce amicable,” Wevorce provides couples a self-guided online divorce solution for a fraction of the cost. Couples can define their “optimal outcomes” and the AI-powered machine walks them through five modules and all the critical decisions that need to be made for their particular circumstances. There are also legal experts available to step in to provide guidance when needed.
According to Deloitte, 100,000 legal roles will be automated by 2036. They report that by 2020 law firms will be faced with a “tipping point” for a new talent strategy. Now is the time for all law firms to commit to becoming AI-ready by embracing a growth mindset, set aside the fear of failure and begin to develop internal AI practices. There are many who believe innovation is the key to transforming the legal profession. That’s precisely what NextLaw Labs, “the first legal technology venture created by a law firm,” plans to do.
It’s clear that AI and machine learning are already transforming law firms and the legal sector. What changes have you seen?