Here’s Why the Legal Sector Is Next in Line for Mass AI Disruption
There is often a perception that AI is either too complicated, expensive or simply irrelevant for non-tech organisations to use, at least in today’s climate.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, and you probably know by now that the legal tech is on the verge of a complete tech do-over, and AI is said to be the leader of the movement. Here Lawyer Monthly hears from Nikolas Kairinos, CEO and Founder of Fountech, on the current adoption of AI and other new tech in the legal sector, as well as the applications and developments we can look forward to in the future.
As someone who regularly works with businesses to improve the way they operate through AI, I cannot think of an industry that is not positioned to benefit from this type of technology. Perhaps most excitingly, I believe the legal sector is about to be drastically transformed by AI toolsets, fundamentally changing the way organisations operate.
Indeed, a recent study of London law firms by CBRE revealed that almost half (48%) are already using AI, while according to Deloitte, 100,000 legal roles will be automated by 2036. These stats demonstrate just how significant AI’s impact will be on the legal sector. Moreover, they emphasise just why organisations and professionals need to go beyond a top-level understanding of AI and delve into the practical benefits on offer from this technology.
How, then, is AI set to disrupt the legal sector, and what can firms do to make the most of this technology? At Fountech, we recently published a white paper delving into these questions, so here are a few key snippets of wisdom for those who are keen to utilise AI within their own firm.
How visible is AI in the legal sector at present?
Contrary to the popular belief that AI is a new technology, it was in fact debuted at a conference at Dartmouth University in 1956. It’s been on the scene now for over 60 years, and in this time, has spearheaded significant change across different industries.
This is particularly true in the last decade, where we’ve witnessed the rise and proliferation of AI toolsets. Crucially, such AI tools are today within reach of more businesses than ever before, which means that there are fewer barriers to adoption and instead greater incentives to explore how these solutions can improve workplace efficiency.
According to Gartner, enterprise use of AI grew 270% over the past four years, with 37% of organisations having implemented AI in some form. What’s more, the results of Gartner’s survey showed that organisations across all industries use AI in a variety of ways, tailored to their specific needs.
Enterprise use of AI grew 270% over the past four years, with 37% of organisations having implemented AI in some form.
But how is the same story being told within the legal sector? AI has found its way into supporting lawyers and their clients alike, and as showcased by the aforementioned London firm study, there is clearly a growing interest in the technology. However, by no means is AI being utilised to its full potential. A survey of senior executives in the US by RELX Group placed the legal industry in last place when it came to the adoption of AI and machine learning (ML) technologies.
There is clearly a knowledge gap when it comes leveraging the power of AI. Fortunately, as we will soon see, implementing AI toolsets in a meaningful way needn’t be overly complicated or inaccessible.
Practical applications of AI in the legal sector
As mentioned earlier, there is a tendency for people to speak about AI in broad strokes without having the knowledge to delve into the benefits and relevancy of specific toolsets. This is natural with any evolving trend, so below I have outlined some creative ways that legal firms can improve their efficiency while at the same time reducing their workload.
Document management and drafting
Thanks to the power of AI, which is naturally geared to sift through massive volumes of qualitative and quantitative data, firms can now digitise their libraries and data stores to make locating information a much easier process.
For instance, lawyers can conduct ‘smart searches’, whereby they can ask the AI software a question that they are seeking the answer to. Take, for instance, a legal professional seeking to find cases of whiplash car injuries in New York State 2018. Taking the information provided, the software will search through a mammoth set of data sources to find all documents containing any matches that satisfy the different fields of enquiry. What’s more, these solutions rely on ML which means that the AI will learn to refine results over time to ensure that they revert the most relevant information (by contrast, traditional search engines simply scan for keywords).
AI tools can also be used to make any document drafting process inherently simpler. Drafting documents naturally takes up a significant portion of a lawyer’s time, but thanks to AI this task can largely be delegated to technology. For instance, a lawyer can specify what points they want to be included, and AI can automatically generate professional, legally-worded paragraphs for specified sections of the document. This enables much faster document drafting, without impeding the overall quality of legal work.
Risk analysis and prediction
AI algorithms’ unprecedented ability to extract information from documents means they can also be used to plot trends and predict future outcomes.
By sifting through cases, identifying common factors and using these to form a variety of casual inferences, AI can produce a risk analysis for potential future cases. In essence, it offers legal professionals an understanding of how likely a case is to be successful, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed argument.
Beyond this, AI tools are being used to predict likely future arguments and decisions that a case could incur. The predictive capabilities of algorithms allow AI to assess how cases with similar circumstances resulted in the past and can therefore be used to forecast outcomes such as the potential of a personal injury case being dismissed due to a lack of evidence.
Importantly, the benefits on offer are by no means limited to these examples. Each legal firm specialises in different fields and will have different needs for AI depending on their individual circumstances. The general point, however, is that AI toolsets are geared to simplify tasks that are onerous, repetitive, or labour-intensive. If you want to find out more about AI in the legal space, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – I’d be happy to share with you Fountech’s legal white paper.