Will AI Help or Hurt Legal Professionals?

Posted: June 20, 2018

When an industry is confronted with a new technology that seeks to improve the efficiency of tasks, the workers of that industry are naturally inclined to feel concerned about how that technology may disrupt the way the industry runs. Currently, artificial intelligence (AI) in litigation is transforming the profession through automation of such time-consuming tasks as contract review, but some attorneys worry that, as it grows in scope, AI may threaten some long-held legal-industry jobs.

However, AI has yet been unable to replace the free and abstract thinking of a human being. It is through improvement of value creation for clients that the legal profession is poised to enjoy benefits, rather than disadvantages, of adopting AI into the legal workflow, which could free attorneys to take up more high-level strategic work.

How Current AI Technologies Will Improve Work in the Legal Industry

U.S consultancy group McKinsey estimates that about 22 percent of a lawyer’s job and 35 percent of a legal clerk’s job can be fully automated. Those numbers are far from 100%, and their potential may be capped by the inability of AI to think as a human does. Career adjustments are also inevitable for those in the profession and for those who want to pursue law.

At its current level of development in legal services, AI can find items that meet human-defined criteria and detect patterns in data. Natural language processing an AI technique has proved quite useful in scanning and determining which documents are relevant for which case, which is a time-saver rather than a job-stealer.

Kira Systems offers data identification and analysis to the legal industry already. JP Morgan, too, announced in 2017 that they had begun using Contract Intelligence (COiN), a software that can perform document review tasks in seconds. Before artificial intelligence was available to perform such a task, the company estimates that they had logged 360,000 hours on the same or similar document review tasks annually.

Current AI capability in law practice promises to relieve attorneys from taxing work that doesn’t necessarily require a professional level of legal expertise.

Lowered Costs, Increased Revenue

AI enables law firms to capitalize on their existing data to increase their competitiveness and profitability by determining which litigation projects should be taken on and which lawyers are best suited for those projects. Tech-savvy firms can analyze data and trends to explore likely case outcomes, which helps them decide if investing their resources in a specific case is worthwhile.

Firms that specialize in transactional practices such as M&A litigation and whose main work involves researching, drafting, negotiating, and advising can now improve their operations by using AI to read legal documents, extract information, and generate reports. Projects that would have previously required multiple paralegals can now accomplish the same amount of work with one worker to manage the AI platform.

A successful law firm requires the right mix of human capital and modern tools. In the legal realm, artificial intelligence can help find that human capital. AI-driven data analytics tools unearth information about how legal professionals may best fit your firm’s needs. With less time between hires, more time to train, and better retainability, the bottom line is sure to benefit.

Pleasing a New Class of Clients

attorney speaking with clientsThe legal industry is client-centric, and the future belongs to those who can adapt to the changing needs and demands of clients. Today’s clients are more knowledgeable and want to know if a law firm is tapping into current technology to offer them superior service at a reasonable cost.

A 2017 PWC report finds that clients are frustrated with legal service delivery; more so as it pertains to rising cost and speed. They believe investment in AI and other technologies will increase efficiency, improve decision making, and improve the quality of overall legal service.

Law firms will have to change their business models to adapt to new technologies, but they need not fear the loss of their jobs. As much as 80 percent of legal needs are unmet due to lack of resources, but with an increase in capacity with the help of AI in legal services, lower overhead may translate to an increased ability to handle the legal needs of a larger number of clients.

Implementation of AI in law practices should be strategic to ensure cost-effectiveness. It is not inherently a custom-made solution; firms should first identify their core business, then consult with technology professionals to find solutions that bridge gaps within the practice.

The bottom line: firms should not be afraid to explore the possibilities of artificial intelligence in litigation.

Embracing the change may even help evolve the legal profession to be more exciting and lucrative in the future, but it starts with well-planned and custom-fit adoption of the technology.