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How Artificial Intelligence is Changing the Legal Industry

Updated: October 16, 2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) continues to transform a wide range of industries. Industries that rely heavily on data analysis and data-based decision-making have been adopting new AI automation products that are changing the way they do business day-to-day. The legal profession is the latest to begin to feel the winds of this technological transformation blowing.

What Is AI?

AI is a general term for software that automates human tasks that were once too complex to model. An example of AI is machine learning, which is a type of software that mimics the intuitive way the human mind learns patterns through experience. AI is also capable of handling simple customer interaction duties with chatbots that can communicate with people naturally while providing information, taking orders, or passing on requests.

How Is AI Impacting the Legal Industry?

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Advances In Artificial Intelligence Could Automate Legal Matters

Up until the past few years, law firms have been largely immune to major information technology disruptions. The industry benefited from paperless document storage and transmission, but IT innovations didn't go much farther than that. AI applications, however, are appearing that can tackle some of the mundane work legal firms currently employ an army of lawyers and clerks to do. From searching document stores for evidence relevant to a case to evaluations of legal cases, AI is muscling its way into the legal world and offering opportunities for large savings in human labor.

Artificial Lawyers

AI is already filling in for human lawyers to make large scale class action suits easier to process. A good example of this is the massive cybersecurity breach that happened at Equifax. Chatbots were deployed by law firms to interact with affected customers and process their filing of lawsuits against the credit monitor. This made it possible to process hundreds of thousands of filings in a timely manner.

Document Research and Review

Big data has empowered AI applications to process large caches of data efficiently that would require armies of human clerks to manage. It has also made it possible to find specific information or larger patterns of information that was beyond the capacity of humans to do. These types of AI are well-suited to law firms that need to sift through large archives of case files and other legal documents.

Doing Due Diligence

Due diligence is another task that law firms expend large amounts of human labor performing. It typically requires large trove of documents to be carefully evaluated during negotiations for investment deals and mergers in financial markets. AI applications can take much of the tedious work involved out of the hands of workers and free their time to exercise their legal and financial expertise on complex problems that AI isn’t able to resolve.

Reviewing and Maintaining Contracts

Another major source of repetitive work performed by law firms is contract reviews and maintenance. Many firms process large numbers of contract documents that AI can evaluate and sort much faster than human evaluators can. The result is less need for human lawyers to spend their time in contract document archives and gives them more time to deal with the cases that need human attention. There are AI software tools already in the market designed with this work in mind, such as eBrevia, Kira Systems, and LawGeex.

Making Predictions of Legal Outcomes

One of the tasks that lawyers spend long hours working on is providing initial recommendations to potential clients about legal cases that exist or that the clients may be interested in pursuing. In many cases, the evaluation is not complicated and only requires a simple interview. AI chatbots and website filing apps have begun to step into this role for basic legal advice that tends to be one-size-fits-all.

Making Divorce an Automated Process

Yet another example of AI taking the grunt work out of the hands of lawyers, an application called Wevorce provides potential clients with an online process that walks them through a divorce filing. Clients indicate their preferred outcome and the AI guides them through an online interview that consists of five modules. When a thorny question or exception comes up that the AI is ill-suited to evaluate, human experts are available to step in and handle it.


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