Artificial intelligence is changing the scope of the law profession. In other words, automation of many of the tasks legal teams currently handle is right around the corner. And while that may conjure images of some sort of “robot lawyer,” don’t despair. The reality will be closer to “robot research team.” AI is augmenting (rather than replacing!) lawyers, giving firms back time for their higher-order tasks. Let’s take a look at some of the ways AI is transforming the legal process and what we might expect from law firms and in-house counsel in the future.
But First, What Can Legal Artificial Intelligence Do?
Legal artificial intelligence can’t build relationships or provide high-level advising (yet!). The machine learning models are excellent at finding patterns and remembering information, but the human tasks of creativity and innovation are still beyond the algorithms. Legal AI is the epitome of the “augmented intelligence” theory. Much like eyeglasses do not replace our eyes, AI does not replace humans. AI simply makes us better.
3 Ways AI is Changing Technology in the Legal Profession
Artificial intelligence supplements the work of lawyers by removing repetitive, mundane tasks that take up a lot of time. This technology enables those in legal roles to automate processes. Humans aren’t the most consistent creatures, and we aren’t good at processing massive amounts of data. And yet in the legal profession, the onus is on the legal team to be both (unfailingly) precise and quick about it. That’s why legal technology that makes lawyers’ jobs easier and more accurate is so important.
Legal artificial intelligence is transforming the industry by augmenting law teams with better research capabilities, and far-reaching detail recognition. Here are three major areas getting a massive overhaul.
Better Data Processing
Consider how long it takes your current legal team to research precedent for a new contract. Combing through piles of data can take a legal team weeks–or even months, in complex cases. You have to account for multiple versions of the same document, and you’re pretty sure that you saw a case similar to this, but a basic boolean search turns up nothing.
AI-driven processing helps wrangle those details, presenting big data as a picture or story rather than one million separate, but potentially relevant, points. AI can potentially:
- keep track of changing regulations, including international ones (GDPR, anyone?)
- flag potential inconsistencies in contracts, even if you process hundreds a year
- identify precedent cases and contracts with relevant language
- notify teams of changing terms like negotiation dates
- parse complex legalese to find key terms
- catalog unstructured data from relevant case information to contracts themselves
Once this processing happens more smoothly, teams may not be so stressed about catching all those critical details, instead focusing on the higher-order tasks of advising, synthesizing information, and building more challenging cases.
Better Interdepartmental Communication
One of the things in-house counsel struggles with is isolation from other departments. This isn’t necessarily intentional, but when legal is misunderstood, it leads to promises and actions that aren’t backed by legal precedent.
Departments don’t want mini-lectures on legal theory, and they don’t want meetings every day discussing the legality of promises made or business moves. However, when part of your custom relationship management software includes indexed contracts, for example, everyone stays on board.
AI can also help keep teams moving forward, particularly in contract negotiations. As each department moves to the next phase, AI is doing the heavy lifting for routine, mundane tasks:
- checking for precedent cases and contracts
- parsing and executing typical boilerplate language
- managing signatures and versions
- alerting sales, management, legal, financial, etc. of important dates and changes
The legal profession carries immense pressure. In a 2015 study of over 12,000 practicing lawyers, just over 20% screened positive for hazardous drinking behavior. 28% experienced symptoms of depression, while 19% experienced anxiety. The profession is inherently stressful and often steeped in conflict.
AI could help ease that burden, especially for smaller firms where lawyers themselves bear the brunt of those long hours. AI handles repetitive, mundane, time-intensive tasks so that lawyers don’t have to–it can:
- bring clarity to the table where large amounts of data must be processed – documents containing hundreds of text messages, an extensive repository of contracts or previous case decisions, or other unstructured data, for example.
- help the data tell a story so that lawyers are freer to build cases rather than connect data points. Synthesizing and compiling may go faster.
- spot inconsistencies with legal language and alert lawyers to missed opportunities.
Lawyers who have more time to represent clients (instead of spending so much time in discovery phases) may find themselves better equipped to take care of themselves. If used correctly, AI could potentially relieve a heavy burden on legal professionals.
Building a Case for Artificial Intelligence in the Legal Industry
Soon, we may find that legal teams without AI augmentation are behind the times. Part of the profession involves embracing technology that helps with cases, and AI could augment the legal profession, allowing lawyers to accomplish the impossible task of being more consistent in less time.
AI is going to affect the legal profession radically in the coming years. While most law firms have yet to use AI-driven solutions, the most successful firms will be the ones embracing the change. Lawyers and in-house counsel that embrace this change could find themselves doing the best (and healthiest) work of their careers.
If you want to see how AI can help your legal team, schedule a demo with IntelAgree.