Imagine a law firm where research and discovery that originally took weeks or even months can now be completed in a matter of days. Aides, assistants and lawyers alike would have so much more time available to analyze and build a strong case around this information. This boost in productivity would provide a lot of “bang” for the client’s buck!
In fact, in the very near future, this type of firm will jump from imagination to the real world. Artificial intelligence (AI) in particular is being set to the task of learning all sectors of law in order to answer questions and perform research so the lawyers can focus on bringing all that research together.
The AI Revolution
Right now, there are multiple companies designing AI platforms that will act as artificial “lawyers.” These platforms are more than just glorified search engines — as they search and read contracts, case law, legislation, and other legal documents and retrieve information for user queries — they learn more about law by understanding the context and relevance of the terms they research. They also become more efficient at their jobs, and provide even more useful content for users.
One group powering this advancement is ROSS Intelligence, a startup that is now part of NextLaw Labs. ROSS actually uses IBM’s Watson as its base to enhance legal research. Their mission is to reduce legal fees for consumers by automating what is often an extremely time-consuming task for lawyers and their staff, and it looks like they’re doing it well — ROSS already has over 20 U.S.-based clients.
Another application of AI in the legal profession is in forecasting. NexLP, a data analytics company, uses its AI capabilities to sift through enormous amounts of data to predict the outcome of litigation. It does this through predictive coding, a model by which the platform learns from user input, what is and what is not relevant to a given request, to determine how it might impact the outcome of a case. Over time, it can understand more sophisticated legal concepts rather than just keywords, returning more relevant and tailored responses. This type of AI has already proved itself to be very accurate. In 2014, a similar algorithm created by a team at Michigan State University was able to correctly predict the outcome of 70 percent of 7,700 U.S. Supreme Court rulings, with a 71 percent success rate at predicting the votes of individual justices!
It is clear to see the kind of value that will be realized by the law firms and in-house legal teams that implement these AI solutions in their workflows. So, what is your strategy for adopting and applying this kind of technology? If your competitors integrate an AI solution first, will you be able to keep up with their speed and competitive prices?
If your answers to these questions are along the lines of, “I’m not sure,” it is very important that you evaluate your priorities, as well as your IT budget, to bring automation and AI into your workflow. Up-to-date technology is as important in the legal field as any other, and the advantages it provides in terms of employee productivity and lowered costs pay for themselves with the amount of more significant work your staff can accomplish and additional clients you can acquire. Do your own research and be on the lookout for the AI tool that is right for you — and be ready to be an early adopter when it arrives!