Part two in our Legal Technology Trends series
Law firms have always dealt with massive quantities of information and it’s growing every year. In order to be competitive and to effectively serve clients, law firms can no longer only rely on their staff to sort through the minutia of huge quantities of data to find what’s relevant.
Fortunately, artificial intelligence (AI) systems have reached a stage where they can quickly categorize huge amounts of data, flag inconsistencies, perform initial analyses and carry out routine, time-intensive, repetitive tasks. And they can do it more accurately than humans in most cases.
Not only can AI systems do all this, but with human feedback, they can continuously improve their performance and become increasingly efficient through machine learning. Humans are still needed to verify results and provide context, but they no longer need to perform the initial repetitive tasks themselves. Instead, attorneys can dedicate their time to strategically using the right information at the right time to further their clients’ goals.
Law firms will be at a disadvantage if they continue to have people perform the tasks that an AI system can. They may fall behind their competition and face needlessly mounting costs trying to deal with the deluge of data that is part of today’s practice of law.
Let’s look at a few of the ways AI can increase your firm’s productivity.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are revolutionizing legal research by significantly speeding up results and cutting down the huge number of research hours that cost U.S. law firms approximately $8.4 billion each year. AI-driven research systems are not the same as the legal research programs attorneys have used for years. Systems like LexisNexis or Westlaw are useful databases for searching for statutes and upper court decisions, but they are not advanced analytical tools.
Today’s AI systems can quickly sift through and analyze unstructured, complex data, such as emails, case files, contracts, and previous court rulings by detecting patterns. For example, Brainspace was able to sort through millions of emails from the Enron scandal in approximately an hour. At the time of the original trial, humans spent months on the same task.
Ross is another AI legal research system that not only speeds up research, but improves the relevance of information, thereby resulting in better results and lower costs.
The quicker that lawyers can access useful information from virtual truckloads of available data, the more time they can spend on strategy at a decreased cost to their clients. If the other side can get the same information months in advance, a firm not using AI is at a significant disadvantage.
Related post: For part one of our Legal Technology Trends series, read our article on the cloud computing technologies that can help your firm succeed.
Contract review can be both time-consuming and subject to human error, especially for transactions that require the review of many documents, such as mergers and acquisitions. Every word must be analyzed in order to perform due diligence and sift out hidden risks.
Contracts have certain patterns, and artificial intelligence systems can identify specific clauses and potential red flags. AI not only speeds up contract review, but significantly increases accuracy compared to human-only analysis.
Software for legal contract review has been around for a long time, but its purpose was to organize contracts and store them. AI software, on the other hand, can identify types of contracts and extract key variables, such as clauses and dates. Contracts can be changed effortlessly and safely.
AI software can also sort huge amounts of data from multiple contracts or documents and flag any information that a law firm specifies. This can enable quick standardization of provisions and assessment of risks in multiple contracts by identifying clauses that may be a problem.
Even for the most experienced attorneys, there has always been an element of risk in litigation. Now artificial intelligence can give attorneys more information before they enter the courtroom.
AI systems, like LexMachina, can analyze data to provide answers to litigation-specific questions, such as the chances of winning a case before a particular judge; which motion arguments are likely to succeed in front of that judge; what tactics opposing counsel might use; and how parties to the litigation are likely to react.
Focus on Strategy
Artificial intelligence and machine learning will never replace the judgment and experience of lawyers. But it will increasingly be used for quickly sifting and analyzing big data, so that lawyers have the information they need to strategize more intelligently.
It can also take over much of the repetitive tasks that were, until now, part of the everyday practice of law. This can help law firms be more efficient, accurate, cost-effective and timelier. It will allow lawyers to spend their time solving complex legal issues rather than focusing on tedious tasks.
Coupling AI systems with legal document solutions will give any law firm a major advantage. Lawyers will have an easier time preparing, as well as more consistent document creation and formatting. Time is money after all.