Artificial Intelligence (AI), in simple terms, means the development of computer systems to perform basic tasks that require human intelligence such as learning, communicating, reasoning and making decisions by itself. It will focus on searching for patterns in the data submitted, testing and analyzing the data and finding a correct result to that data. In my opinion, when AI is related to the legal profession, both works exactly in the same way.
Both Artificial Intelligence and legal profession can augment each other when lawyers provide the data necessary for these computer systems to learn and the computer can learn from that data and provide the matching patterns and similar cases from the past to the lawyers. AI will enhance the ability of machines to learn tasks that previously were done by lawyers and the ability of lawyers to extract pertinent information by either typing a query directly or by asking the machine to perform a task for them.
Potential benefits of AI in the legal profession:
- CONSISTENCY: Technology never gets tired or needs sleep or have to call in sick or go on vacation. It just keeps working and working and working even when the lawyer is not around.
- SAVES TIME AND MONEY: Computer systems can analyze more information, more thoroughly than humans can, in a tiny fraction of the time.
- E-DISCOVERY: Companies and the law firms will not have to spend money and waste their time in hiring lawyers and assistants to perform trivial tasks as searching documents. AI will search and identify discoverable or potentially relevant data of all forms and file it in much less time than humans.
- PREPARE CONTRACTS: Form contracts are huge time-savers and it will allow the company to have a consistent set of agreements. AI tools can create contracts and can also be set up as self-service for clients where the client can edit and enter the basic information required to form a contract on the basis of pre-set questions. AI will obviously give each legal department a leverage to decide how much it wants AI to be involved in the creation process and lawyers can always edit and customize the nonstandard part of the contract for their each client. AI can also help save time by analyzing the contracts and other documents for errors, missing information, and inconsistent language in no time.
- LEGAL RESEARCH: AI system can assist the lawyers by performing legal research on relevant case law and applicable statutes in a faster and more thorough manner. It will also be powerful to use data to predict the outcome of litigation and enable lawyers to provide more impactful advice to their clients in connection with dispute resolution issues. Law firms can use AI as FAQ service that can answer the basic legal, HR and compliance questions from the clients. Attorneys can always amend the answer to each client’s requests and choose to advise on substantial issues.
- CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS: AI would also provide a fast and thorough contract comparison whenever there is a battle of the forms between contracting parties regarding which standard contract terms should be utilized. AI system could also suggest suitable fallbacks or alternative contract provisions from a contracting party’s repository of negotiated contracts to help address a particular contractual issue.
- DUE DILIGENCE: Every lawyer knows that conducting a comprehensive due diligence review in connection with the huge amounts of data for any merger, acquisition, or other sophisticated corporate transaction is absolutely necessary. AI can perform such due diligence in a much faster and cheaper fashion.
Building from all the above benefits, AI solutions additionally allow attorneys, freed from the tedium of the low-level tasks and allow them to engage in the more satisfying, creative, human-specific work of legal representation. This can include talking to clients; fully developing, exploring, and explaining strategies, theories, and outcomes; and keeping clients better informed at every stage of the legal process and this will obviously lead to greater client satisfaction.
However, as AI is still an emerging technology, there will be issues in implementing it. I will like to address some of them as follows:
- DATA PRIVACY: In order for law firms and companies to provide above benefits, they need to have access to updated AI systems. Any buyer of AI-related services will have to understand how an AI protects and uses its data. They should be trained regarding what specific steps will they have to take to safeguard data. This adoption and training might take up a large amount of time and money of the law firms at the initial stage.
- LACK OF RULES AND REGULATIONS: There are not a lot of meaningful AI related laws or standards that can be relied upon yet. Hence in the case of an unfortunate accident due to a bug in the AI system, it will be difficult to deal in the initial time.
- LEGAL ETHICS: The major concern is that if AI is providing all the legal services how one will ensure to comply with the legal ethics rules such as American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct? Who will be held liable and will lawyers take responsibilities for misjudgment of the AI system? It will be definitely interesting to see how various regulatory bodies will address issues on AI used by lawyers.
- LIABILITY: Lawyers will adopt AI to render legal services and advice to the clients.It is inevitable that AI will make mistakes that may result in monetary damages. There is no answer yet that how one will determine liability to that loss. Will clients be able to sue the lawyer working with the AI for negligence and malpractice claims?
Considering both the Pros and cons of using Artificial Intelligence Systems in the legal profession, all comes back to one question: What does all this mean for a lawyer? Should lawyers be hesitant saying YES to artificial humans?
It is true that technological advancements in the field of Artificial Intelligence have led lawyers to worry that weather AI will actually replace lawyers and my answer to all those lawyers is NO. It will certainly NOT harm the lawyers.
Yes, some legal jobs will be eliminated as AI will conduct all the clerical, routine and administrative tasks. But more jobs will be created requiring managing and developing AI, we can call them as Legal Engineers who will write algorithms for AI and manage and review AI- assisted work products. Lawyers will be left will more significant task as advising clients, analyzing results, writing legal briefs, negotiating, arguing, and appearing in court. All these tasks will always require the human touch. AI will only assist lawyers to do their job better and faster.
Indeed, the future is now and the benefits of AI in a legal department are many as discussed. AI is currently touching many in-house workflows such as legal research, contract development, and many others to come. Much like email changed the way we do business every day, AI will become pervasive in the legal field. In short, AI will create a positive momentum throughout a law firm. Lawyers will no longer have to do the monotonous tasks and they will engage in strategic problem-solving, which can enable them to enjoy their work more. There will be always time to thoroughly counsel each and every client and mentor their subordinates and all of this will add up to a much better working environment for everyone.
Manali Shah earned her Master of Laws (LLM) from University of California Berkeley, School of Law. She is a licensed Indian Attorney having her Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Law with Honors in Criminal and International Law (B.com LLB (Hons)). Manali is passionate about emerging laws in the field of technology and motivated to implement it for the betterment of the society. In her free time, she loves to travel and meet people from all over the world.