How AI is Changing the Law

Artificial intelligence (AI) and its powerful applications have changed so many industries, including the legal industry.

However, the legal industry is lagging behind in the digital transformation, which enables accelerated growth in other trades and sectors. A report from Gartner highlights that only 19% of in-house legal teams are currently equipped to utilize enterprise technologies. This means huge law firms aren’t ready to tackle the changes in the legal industry.

AI in the legal industry

While the use of algorithms in the legal industry and in law enforcement isn’t particularly new, the extent of implementation is staggering. Lawyer and CEO of ROSS Intelligence Andrew Arruda elaborated on this in his TED talk. He notes how AI enables not only automation but also allows computers to interpret data, recognize patterns, and form conclusions. IBM Watson’s proprietary AI assistant ROSS was dubbed the “world’s first digital attorney”.

In fact, AI applications have improved so much in the past few years that they have surpassed the best of the best in the field. An AI-powered contract review technology LawGeex beat the top 20 US lawyers in a test focusing on accuracy and speed. The landmark study made the AI and the lawyers find issues in Non-Disclosure Agreements. The AI found the issues with 94% accuracy in around 26 seconds. Meanwhile, the lawyers spotted them within 92 minutes with 85% accuracy. This demonstration of AI powers catapulted the Tel Aviv startup to new heights and is now being widely used by Fortune 500 companies.

Bots in document management

The long hours have always been a bane for law practitioners. From research and documentation to document assembly and intricate argument building, lawyers and legal workers can pour hours into working a single case. This is why one of the most widely adopted use cases of AI in legal tech is document discovery.

MIT Technology Review reports that around 22% of a lawyer’s job, and up to 35% of a law clerk’s job, can be automated. Most of these are clerical tasks which AI-enabled eDiscovery solutions can cover faster and more efficiently. However, this doesn’t mean that jobs will disappear and in fact raises the demand for more legal tech experts. Special Counsel notes how technology is reshaping the industry with more specialists needed in document management, security, and eDiscovery. While automation will phase out clerical jobs, done mostly by paralegals and junior associates, it will also create a new type of job in the legal industry, one that will help develop these AI-enabled solutions.

Predictive Coding and Legal Research

More than automation, the power of machine learning lies in its capacity to improve over time. Online platforms such as LexisNexis and Practical Law employ search algorithms to help lawyers find more relevant resources and documents. Others like Lex Machina go a step further by suggesting legal strategies from its ever-widening pool of knowledge acquired from previous cases.

On the other hand, predictive coding is the most advanced use of AI in legal tech. It speeds up the eDisclosure process by ranking the relevance of documents, flagging any content of interest, and aiding in decision-making.

With more applications and use cases becoming apparent, the legal sector is ripe for disruption. AI-enabled tools will usher in a much needed change in one of the most inert sectors right now—legal tech.

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