By Karan Kalia, Founder, LegitQuest
Artificial intelligence has infiltrated every facet of our lives today. Be it smart devices, automated vehicles, chatbots, or even AI powered mental health counseling apps, it is difficult to not spot intelligent machines around you. If you have reached this article through a Google search on law sector, you are using one of the most powerful manifestations of AI in the form of the search engine. According to a market research, Artificial intelligence is expected to grow into a USD 190.61 billion market by 2025.
The legal sector is the latest industry to have caught up with the AI revolution which has begun to transform the legal profession in many ways. By mimicking human actions and learning critical knowledge functions, machine learning works to automate a series of manual tasks and legal processes — research, document review, analyzing case laws or precedents. This automation of time consuming processes is dramatically improving efficiency, saving time and costs and bringing about a major turnaround in the way lawyers perform their roles. With exhausting routine tasks automated, lawyers have more time to focus on more critical functions. Experts believe that greater adoption of AI based tools by lawyers will eventually help reduce costs of legal services for common people.
Let’s take a look at some ways in which AI is shaking up the legal sector:
Simplifying Legal Research
Effective legal research is indispensable for legal professionals and is the bedrock of sound legal practice. Legal research involves multiple facets of collecting information that helps lawyers prepare effective arguments in a case. It involves studying laws, legislations, regulations and histories of similar cases and their interpretation. Before the advent of digitization, legal research required lawyers to search and scan for physical copies of legal records. However, digitization has created a major impact on legal research, making it much easier for researchers to scan and search for files.
Artificial Intelligence backed research tools have in recent years added another new dimension to this story by giving lawyers intelligent machines that can do much more than throw up search results. New age AI backed legal research tools have the intelligence to understand your query and find out relevant legal records faster.
A study conducted by the attorneys of the US National Legal Research Group found that layers using an AI baked search tool finished research projects on an average 24.5% faster than attorneys using traditional legal research. In fact switching to an AI backed app saved an average lawyer 132-210 hours of legal research per year. Similarly, the study also concluded that search results of lawyers using the AI backed research tool were on average 21% more relevant than those doing traditional legal research.
Making case law research easier
Case law is a term used to denote the sum total of all past legal decisions given out by courts through their interpretation of existing laws and regulations. The knowledge of past decisions is as important for lawyers and judges as legislations since they form legal precedents and help in resolving difficult and conflicting cases in the present.
Researching cases laws has always been an extremely tedious tasks for lawyers. It takes a humongous amount of time and energy to use the raw information, case histories, arguments and judgments available and interpret the same to make it useful for your case. A number of digitized legal databases sought to address this research task but most of them delivered plethora of judgment transcripts verbatim in search results without any value addition. This is something AI based research tools are trying to change by offering value additions such as headnotes or case summaries.
In the US study cited above, as many as 45% of the attorneys said they would have missed important or critical precedents if they had only done traditional legal research instead of also using an AI based tool.
Boosting Document Review
As document reviewers for a court or a law firm, lawyers are required to examine hundreds of documents relevant to a pending litigation or investigation and mark them in order of relevance or sensitivity vis a vis the case. When conducted traditionally, this process understandably takes enormous amount of time. AI backed technology is now offering solutions such as predictive coding to speed up this mechanism as well.
Predictive coding is a process through which an algorithm is “trained” by a law expert in the art of analyzing documents and ranking them in order of relevance for the purpose of disclosure. Once “trained” the algorithm performs the document review function on its own. In some cases, predictive coding can also be used as a tool to assess the merits of a case in its early stages. When used appropriately, this can result in significant cost and time savings.