Artificial Intelligence in Law and Legal Industry: Is it necessary?

AI in Law

AI in Law

How AI, machine learning are revamping the lesser digitalized legal sector?

As Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning are continuously impacting different industries, it has also become imperative for professionals to augments their skills to fit with the newness. Even the legal profession, which is often regarded as resistant to change, is embracing this change. So now, AI is playing a significant role for lawyers, legal researchers, and law firms. In a survey study titled, ‘Decoding the Next-Gen Legal Professional’, conducted by BML Munjal University (BMU) School of Law and Vahura, a leading legal search and consulting firm, it was found that 42%  of respondents believe that 20% of the routine works like contract drafting and due diligence, etc. will be taken over by technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain. A recent Forbes article outlined the firms that are already availing the offers of cost-effective technology solutions, which is making legal professionals’ lives easier. Additionally, Deloitte’s study reveals that around 100K legal roles would be automated by the year 2036.

The legal industry has been under criticism for being under-digitized in its working. This may be because the current AI tools cannot mimic advanced cognitive processes, such as logical reasoning, comprehension, metacognition, or contextual perception of abstract concepts that are essential to legal thinking. This is why the adoption of AI in this field has been comparatively slower than other industries. Meanwhile, even though AI would not automate the legal profession out of existence, the BML Munjal University report observed 67% of in-house respondents say 50% of their work will be taken over by tech, implying their fear of losing jobs to AI. Besides, this survey captures the skills that would be considered most important for lawyers to survive and thrive in the competitive legal industry over the next three-five years. The top skill required would be one of understanding and anticipating client needs (81%), followed by tech proficiency (74%), commercial awareness (71%), and time-management (57%).

WillRobotsTakeMyJobs, a website that tracks various industries’ computerization, predicts a 94% chance that AI will completely dominate the paralegal and legal assistant industry within several years. For instance, one of the significant AI applications in the law and legal sector involves using NLP tools to perform a textual analysis of proposed contract terms based on a legal department’s objectives. These AI tools can determine which proposed terms of a contract are acceptable and which are not. E.g., In 2017, the Investment Banking Firm JPMorgan announced COiN for Contract Intelligence, a program that saves up to 360,000 hours of a lawyer’s time every year by interpreting commercial-loan agreements. There are other AI tools like  Kira Systems, LawGeex, and eBrevia that help sort contracts quicker and with fewer errors than humans. Kira Systems discovers and examines data from contracts and gives the user the ability to break down trends and patterns between documents.

Also, legal firms can leverage machine learning software to predict the outcome of cases based on relevant precedent, facts of the case, and prior outcomes in particular jurisdictions. Here, lawyers can use data points from past case law, win/loss rates, and a judge’s history to be used for trends and patterns. E.g., Premonition AI computes litigators’ effectiveness before a particular judge by mining the most extensive litigation base in the world, so that parties can make choices based on empirical insights.

Apart from these, law firms can use software templates to create filled out documents based on data input. Next, litigators could perform due diligence with the help of AI tools to uncover background information. Lawyers and litigators require this due diligence process for intelligently advising clients on what their options are and what actions they should take. This can be immensely helpful since humans are prone to mistakes and inaccuracy when doing spot checks. Moreover, an extensive process can also be very time-consuming and tedious.

It’s clear that AI and machine learning are already transforming law firms and the legal sector. Also, it is normal to find many predispositions and absurd notions about AI stealing lawyers’ jobs. But a 2018 study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that while nearly half of all tasks could be automated with current technology, only 5% of jobs could be entirely automated, estimating that 23% of a lawyer’s job can be automated. So, in the end, AI would not take jobs; instead, augment the functions in law and legal industry. Lawyers who use AI will replace those who don’t, hence it is high time to embrace this technological change.