We’ve seen artificial intelligence technology deployed across a number of industries, making it possible to complete laborious tasks with more speed, accuracy and efficiency. The legal sector is no different. As more firms lean into digital innovation and the use of AI to automate day-to-day tasks, AI is capable of improving services and increasing productivity there too.
Although AI in the legal industry is still in its infancy, its applications are already streamlining low-value, repetitive tasks and assisting associates in simplifying the mundane and time-consuming responsibilities of legal practice. (We’re still a long way off from fully automated AI lawyers or judges; current practitioners needn’t worry about being displaced by technology.)
Firms already incorporating AI into the workplace are finding that one of its prime advantages is that it frees up lawyers and their teams to refocus their work on activities that require deep analysis, expertise, or human connection.
Here are several areas law firms might consider when weighing their options of incorporating AI into their practice.
Conducting due diligence is a key task lawyers perform for their clients to thoroughly assess and competently advise on a legal situation. The process is a comprehensive investigation that entails gathering and reviewing documents and other communication and reviewing them for language or other evidence relevant to the case. While due diligence is necessary in order for an attorney to advise their client on their options and recommend a course of action, the process can be tedious and time-consuming, subject to error or inaccuracy.
Attorneys can use AI to perform due diligence more quickly, reviewing more documents in less time, and with a lower risk of errors. A customized AI program can search documents, highlight key findings, verify facts, and organize materials for later review by a human practitioner.
Another time-consuming task that an AI platform is able to streamline is research. Searching for applicable case law can often result in thousands of case results, but an AI platform uses algorithms to quickly and accurately review documents relevant to particular cases. The more an attorney is able to focus their search, the more efficiently AI is able to tailor the search results, reducing the amount of documentation that must be reviewed.
While an AI-platform may act as a tireless legal assistant, it doesn’t eliminate the need for expert and thorough document review by a human attorney. But with a refined and focused research process, less time is spent sifting through irrelevant case law, leaving more time for other high-value activities like analysis.
Contract creation and review is an essential, though time-consuming, task for any law firm, requiring a robust contract management system. AI is able to automate efficient methods of organizing, drafting and reviewing basic contracts, and check for errors or other missing terms or clauses.
Over time, as artificial intelligence platforms collect data, they’re able to provide insights to attorneys that predict future behavior between negotiating parties, and even predict how long it could take one party to approve a contract.
Reducing the hundreds of hours of manpower required to execute and manage the contract process allows firms to focus on higher-level tasks and spend more time focused on client service and positive outcomes.
Predicting Litigation Outcomes
Traditionally, attorneys answer their client’s most pressing questions, including “Will we win if we go to trial?” and “Should we accept a settlement?” by making their best educated guess based on years of experience, their knowledge of the local courts and historical data.
AI is able to analyze a staggering amount of data to accomplish the same thing, faster and oftentimes more accurately. AI can be used to predict the outcome of a case using various analytics including similar case outcomes, the judge’s prior rulings on comparable cases, or new information or arguments relevant to the case.
While AI is not infallible in its predictions, attorneys can more confidently recommend a course of action for their clients armed with a comprehensive predictive analysis.
Compliance And Administration
Artificial intelligence allows firms to address the sometimes unwieldy process of accurately recording and billing time, using smart measurement tools to increase efficiency and reduce overheads. Invoicing and follow-up on late payments becomes automatic, and record-keeping is up-to-date in just minutes, not hours, spent.
The development of AI for use within the legal profession is accelerating, and the potential benefits are many. Improved efficiencies could contribute to potentially reduced costs and increased access to legal services. With streamlined processes in place and by automating repetitive, low-level tasks, firms could have more time to take on and service new clients. Attorneys could spend more time engaged in critical thinking, strategic planning and complex analysis.
Though there are concerns that incorporating AI and other machine-driven technologies will destroy jobs, these have not been borne out in the legal profession or in other industries. Historically, technology has acted as a job creator, developing new roles that never before existed. While law firms would need to rethink their strategies to incorporate AI platforms into their culture in the coming years, the long-term potential for growth is a win.