Industries and processes across the globe are embracing new technologies to increase efficiency and deliver faster and accurate outcomes. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have recently taken the world by storm with their advancements in delivering impactful and insightful results. The legal industry is not any different. The changing customer needs and technology landscape has enabled the legal industry to transform their operations and enhance their overall process efficiency.
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Today, the legal technology landscape is rich with AI solutions. There are AI tools designed to automate simple tasks and to help legal professionals accomplish tasks faster and more accurately. The amount of data generated within law firms keeps growing and remains largely untapped. AI and machine learning can leverage the data and help legal practitioners to gain insights and patterns that could prepare them for future litigation and draft documents.
Technology at their fingertips will also help to accelerate research and data analytics and reduce the overall cost. By leveraging insights on past negotiations or verdicts, lawyers can analyze past outcomes and use newly gained insights to assess the outcome of a specific scenario. There are some AI solutions which offer the ability to automate the review of legal research, allowing judges to check submissions and identify missing precedents and authorities. Enhanced scrutiny of data enables them to surface inequalities in historical data. According to Deloitte, 100,000 legal roles will be automated by 2036.
Let’s look at 4 areas where AI & ML can provide value to legal professionals.
1. Review documents and research: During cases, lawyers, and other legal professionals such as judges, counsellors and advisors go through a lot of paperwork for review purposes. AI-powered applications can help these professionals to review documents and flag them as relevant to a particular case. Once a certain type of document is flagged as relevant, machine learning algorithms can find other documents that are similarly relevant. Machines being much faster at sorting through thousands of archive documents can produce results in seconds. This process would take hours or days of work for humans to perform manually. This sorting also helps professional to review select documents that are sorted by ML rather than reviewing all of them. This enables them to free up time and focus on cases rather than sorting archives.
2. Due diligence: Due diligence is a vital part of legal cases where professional must conduct certain due diligence such as background verification, past offense, open cases on behalf of their clients. This works is tedious and monotonous and takes up a lot of their time and resources. This involves hiring junior legal executives to perform such activities that adds up to the cost. Some AI & ML applications have already been created to help professionals to perform these checks in minutes by connecting to legal & criminal databases across the country. This allows professional to reduce the cost, thereby, reducing the fees charged to the client.
3. Contract review and management: Law firms analyze contracts on behalf of their clients to identify risks, anomalies, future financial obligations, renewal, and expiration dates, etc. This involves them to go through a lot of documents, hundreds of pages long. It is a slow, labor-intensive process that, at times, requires more than 5,000 man-hours to complete.
The process comprises reviewing contracts, checking for clauses that either go in-favour of the client or against. These anomalies are highlighted and sent to the client for review. This back-and-forth process takes weeks or months to close. The process is manually carried out and is prone to human errors, where executives could miss potential anomalies/ risks that could hurt the client later.
There are several software companies who have 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. These AI platforms allow professionals to extract and analyze business information contained in large volumes of contract data. It is also used to create contract summary charts for M&A due diligence.
4. Predict legal outcomes: In legal cases, lawyers are often consulted by the client before the engagement begins and are asked to predict if the case can be won. Lawyers, with their experience and research, must gauge if the case at hand can be won or lost and offer predictive outcomes to the client. Also, lawyers tend to gauge the probability of a win to maintain their reputation. This predictive insight can be biased basis individual experiences, past outcomes, subjective judgements and personal sentiments. To make such predictions, it is challenging for individuals to go through or know outcomes in similar cases around the world, thereby, limiting their basis of prediction. AI & ML shines in this domain. AI can help to sieve through millions of cases across the globe and give better predictions and insights on similar cases in the past.
5. Embracing technology and enhancing processes: Legal professionals are known to be a bit more resistant towards technology. AI & ML and other technologies will never replace the workforce, but only enhance their abilities to perform better. AI & ML are here to stay and will keep getting better each day. Digital transformation in the legal industry will help them to get out the vicious cycle of document reviews, case tracking, due diligence, etc. It will help them to free-up more time for other critical activities. While we have already started witnessing its impact, continued use of AI & ML will shape legal strategy and outcomes for years to come.