While it may have entered the mainstream consciousness with visions of Skynet and apocalypse, artificial intelligence, or AI, has found itself the center of an extensive transformation within the modern workplace as its applications continue to take hold across a growing number of industries.
As possibilities continue to become realities the prevalence of AI will only continue to grow, allowing for further adoption.
Though, despite its well accepted, even desired, place among society with facets such as Natural Language understanding within programs and devices, AI has found itself the focus of a debate with ardent supporters on each side.
Concerns regarding diminishing workforce opportunities, built upon the very real job losses experienced due to automation, have led some to be wary of AI adoption, as well as to a lesser extent similar tech-based solutions.
Being such, now, more than ever, is a prudent moment to make an argument for AI within the legal industry.
Before exploring the possible effect that AI will have upon professionals within the industry, it is crucial to begin with an examination of a few roles AI holds, or will hold, within the industry.
AI-Enhanced Due Diligence Efforts
Due diligence, often the most crucial as well as one of the most tedious aspects of the industry, begins before counsel can be provided.
As such, the ability to provide properly vetted fact finding efforts to clients predicates any further efforts in performing job functions.
That being so, the ability to not only reduce the required time needed for due diligence but also faults within the process is paramount in taking on clients and providing adequate counsel.
So, as AI is undeniably suited toward processing large amounts of data in mere fractions of the time necessary for a human counterpart, implementation allows for a solution that reduces due diligence workload while further reducing any instances of error.
This in itself provides legal professionals with an indispensable tool which can provide savings in terms of billable hours and the need for lengthy discovery periods.
Though the power of AI does not stop simply with the ability to perform this essential function.
Document Review 2.0
Similar to the innovative disruption to the due diligence process, document review can equally benefit, and in some markets is currently benefiting, from the implementation of AI.
As previously discussed, the ability for AI to review large data sets within a relatively short amount of time without the risk of human error lends itself perfectly towards the process of document and contract review.
Due to the critical nature of contract review, in particular, and the need to reduce error as it equates to liabilities, in removing the one aspect that is prone to error due to outside sources, that being the human element, the entire process becomes one that not only streamlines a firm’s workload but builds client trust inherently within the process.
When extended to document review in all its facets, such as necessary case research, the ability for AI to revolutionize the way in which legal professionals conduct day to day operations outweighs the potential hurdles faced within practical application such as personnel training.
In addition to the ability to streamline data set reviews, when applied correctly AI is able to distinguish patterns within large data sets and create predictions based upon the given inferences.
By doing so, AI allows legal professionals to make accurate predictions regarding case outcomes as defined by precedent within previous cases, as well as being able to do so in regards to a particular judge or jurisdiction if provided the necessary data to do so.
This ability to accurately surmise case outcomes based upon data can prove to be crucial in various points of case management allowing for transitions to be made within the presentation of cases if the employed tactic is deemed to have a high probability of failure by AI.
Having explored a number of the methods in which the implementation of AI can vastly improve the application of law, it is now pertinent to explore the ways in which AI will affect those that work within the industry.
As with the introduction of any disruptor to an industry, the implementation of AI within the legal industry will certainly have a measurable effect on legal professionals.
Though, unlike what is witnessed by automation, the result will be less of one of replacement and one more so of assistance.
Unlike industries in which tech-based solutions, such as automation, eliminate the need for the human component, the legal profession is one that must always retain that element to function.
To illustrate this point, the introduction of AI programs that reduce the need for countless hours of document review conducted by legal professionals does not eliminate the need for those professionals as AI is unable to carry out the necessary functions to utilize gathered data and inferences.
Instead, the implementation of AI within this case allows for a better allocation of the professionals’ time towards more crucial aspects of the position.
Jill Switzer of Above the Law wrote to this point stating:
Yes, automation is here, yes, so is artificial intelligence, but can you and would you even want to program creativity? We need to emphasize that part of a lawyer’s practice involves creative thinking. How would a robot handle a recalcitrant witness? Could a robot show empathy to a victim who has suffered a catastrophic injury?
Thus, the legal industry, as with several industries, is in a position in which the implementation of AI, as well as eventual automation of less crucial or time consuming tasks, will not directly result in job losses experienced within other industries in which automation and AI were introduced, such as the case within the automotive industry.
Therefore, to bring this argument to a close, AI is not a technology to be avoided or skeptical towards but instead one to be viewed with optimism towards its potential to redefine the legal industry for the better.
We’d love to hear your take on AI within the industry in the comment section below!
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