How Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are disrupting legal practice

Original article was published by Gonçalo Piriquito on Artificial Intelligence on Medium


How Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are disrupting legal practice

Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning has impacted almost every aspect of the business. It has given birth to Industry 4.0, autonomous driving and many other crucial future technologies. It has also made significant foray into augmenting professional services like legal services. Even the term Legaltech has been coined which means the use of technology and software to provide legal services. There is no doubt in the fact that AI and ML is going to disrupt the daily operations of the legal firms but in most cases it will augment what humans do and will free them up to do tasks which add higher value like negotiating deals, advising clients and appearing in court.

On a macro-level it is going to disrupt the business models of the legal firms, replace many mundane human tasks by computers software, transform in-house legal counsel etc. It will bring efficiency in the system as it is expected to reduce labour hours by automating around 23% of the lawyer’s job (says Mckinsey Global Institute). The law firms will also have to adapt new talent strategy which is in sync with the business model and external environment factors like technology, competition etc.

On a micro level, there are specific areas where these technologies (AI/ML) will augment the current human professionals. Therefore,It is important to know the scope and impact of the upcoming disruption so that the firms are well prepared to respond with the challenges. Some of the areas are as follows:

  1. Document Review& Research

It means searching documents which are relevant to the case. Historically legal research and document reviewing was done through manual process which was error prone and required significant time and effort. This work can be efficiently done by AI (Artificial Intelligence) powered computers. They can speedily analyse documents and flag them relevant for the case with a very high accuracy. Ross Intelligence powered by the IBM Watson is one such case. It can search and find similar cases that have occurred in the past in a very less amount of time. It means that it has the potential to significantly reduce the load of the human workforce and enhance the efficiency of the whole operations.

  1. Analysing Contracts

Analysing contracts generally include identifying risks, future obligations, anomalies etc. This can be very laborious as companies have to analyse hundreds or thousands of contracts. Artificial intelligence can really help lawyers to identify, extract and analyse important information in large volumes of data. The power of the Artificial Intelligence can be estimated by the fact that work which was previously done by 360000 lawyers can be easily done in seconds by the AI powered program called COIN at JP Morgan. COIN is used to interpret commercial loan agreements. It has significantly boosted the firm’s productivity as huge amount of time is spent in analysing and reviewing contracts.

  1. Predicting Legal outcomes

AI/ML powered computer systems use algorithms to analyse data and predict outcomes of the legal proceedings. They are able to do it with high accuracy because they can access huge amount of data and learn from it which humans can’t think of. This learning helps them in predicting the outcome. This can be very beneficialduring a trial where lawyers need to take many small and big decisions. Artificial intelligence can supplement the decision making process and increase the probability to make the right decision. It can deal with many dilemmas in decision making process. Some of them are as follows.

  • Should I settle the case or take my chances at trial?
  • Should I use this argument or that?
  • If I go to trial, what is the probability that I will win?
  1. Drafting Systems

Hundreds or thousands of documents are drafted daily in legal firms. AI powered drafting systems can easily generate various types of documents like loan documents, litigation documents, sales contract etc. It can save significant time and improve the quality of the drafts.

If we consider today’s businesses, major functional areas include marketing, finance, HR, operations, legal etc. Except legal, each and every function has experienced significant innovation to enhance productivity and workflows. It is quite astonishing that MS Word still remains the only famous digital tool in the legal profession. Considering its vast size, Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning when used in legal services (legaltech) can unlock immense potential to re-invigorate this industry.

Therefore now is the time for all the in the legal service industry to embrace change and make themselves ready for the future. If they want to survive, they will have to set aside their fear of failure and be AI ready. . It is already evident that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are transforming the legal services sector but the real question is are you also the part of this transformation? This one decision has the potential to determine the existence of your future.