Complex Made Simple

Robots not yet in courtrooms but the verdict is out on AI lawyers   

Artificial intelligence (AI) software systems are increasingly being used by the legal community. But can they replace lawyers altogether?

More than 300 other law firms in 55 countries also use AI for legal assistance in 80 different languages. Researchers stumbled on a methodology to automate legal research Automation could reduce the cost of legal services, making it more accessible for those who can’t afford lawyers

Could your next lawyer be a robot?

Artificial intelligence (AI) software systems are, in fact, increasingly being used by the legal community.

According to Deloitte, 100,000 legal jobs are likely to be automated in two decades, with around 39% of jobs automated. Other estimates indicate adopting all legal technology (including AI) already available now would reduce lawyers’ hours by 13%.

CBRE surveys revealed 61% of the companies are using AI to generate and review legal documents, 47% are using it for due diligence purposes and 42% are using it for research.

Joshua Browder describes his app DoNotPay as “the world’s first robot lawyer” helping users draft legal letters. You tell its chatbot what your problem is, such as appealing against a parking fine, and it will suggest what it thinks is the best legal language to use.

“People can type in their side of an argument using their own words, and software with a machine learning model matches that with a legally correct way of saying it,” he says.

“If you know the right things to say, you can save a lot of time and money.”

The app has spread across the UK and US, and it can now help the user write letters dealing with a range of issues such as insurance claims, applying for tourist visas, complaint letters to a business or local authority, getting your money back for a holiday you can no longer go on or canceling gym membership.

AI becoming the norm

Some lawyers are pleased with AI software as it can be used to quickly trawl through and sort vast quantities of case documents.

One such lawyer is Sally Hobson, a barrister at London-based law firm The 36 Group, who works on criminal cases. She recently used AI in a complex murder trial. The case involved needing to quickly analyze more than 10,000 documents.

The software did the task four weeks faster than it would have taken humans, saving £50,000 ($68,685) in the process.

Lawyers using AI for assistance is “becoming the norm and no longer a thing that’s nice to have,” says Eleanor Weaver, chief executive of Luminance, which makes the software Hobson uses.

More than 300 other law firms in 55 countries also use it in 80 different languages.

AI can also now help them prepare and structure their case and search for any relevant legal precedents.

Some countries, such as Brazil, have a huge backlog of court cases that the use of AI lawyers and judges could help solve

Meanwhile, Bruce Braude, chief technology officer of Deloitte Legal, the legal arm of accountancy giant Deloitte, says that its TAX-I software system can analyze historical court data for similar tax appeal cases.

The firm claims it can correctly predict how appeals will be determined 70% of the time.  

Can AI replace law practitioners?

A lawyer, on any given day, can be researching cases, drafting briefs, and advising clients. While technology has been nibbling around the edges of the legal profession for some time, it’s hard to imagine those complex tasks being done by a robot.

But lawyers’ jobs are a lot less safe because of those functions.  

A research project about automation was an effort by law professors to try and identify the text features of successful versus unsuccessful legal briefs.

Researchers inadvertently stumbled on a methodology to automate one of the most challenging and time-consuming aspects of legal practice: legal research.

The scientists at MITRE used a methodology called “graph analysis” to create visual networks of legal citations and it enabled them to predict whether a brief would “win” based on how well other briefs performed when they included a particular citation.

If you were a lawyer responding to the other side’s brief, normally you would have to search laboriously for the right cases to cite using an expensive database. But the research suggested that one could build a database with software that would just tell lawyers the best cases to cite. All you would need to do is feed the other side’s brief into the machine.

This proved how technology, even in the legal profession, can turn any task that is extremely time-consuming for humans into one where the heavy lifting can be done at the click of a button.

Automation could help reduce the cost of legal services, making it more accessible for the many individuals who can’t afford a lawyer.

Corporates’ AI adoption for legal cases

Legal professionals and legal technologists see 2021 pushing the boundaries of AI adoption among corporates.

The fees generated as an outcome of billable hours and headcount have come under scrutiny lately, with customers demanding more cost efficiencies.  

There are four broad categories of use cases for AI in legal:

  • Categorization: AI can rapidly categorize relevant data, facts, behaviors, specific case types and related structures.
  • Correlation: AI predicts and generates foresight from historical data and facts. For example, it can analyze similar cases and statistically analyze and predict litigation outcomes accurately, advising attorneys to confidently counsel their clients on litigation matters.
  • Recommendations: AI software generates recommendations on actions and decisions based on access to prior relevant data.
  • Imputing: AI can construct the full picture from partial records by analyzing patterns in a cognitive manner.

While there are several areas to leverage AI in the legal domain, some are more mature and evolved than others. The most common use cases and low-hanging fruit include:

  • Litigation Document Review: E-discovery algorithms work by learning how a company or firm reviews documents based on criteria like terms, behaviors, topics, etc. Once AI establishes what to look for, it can recommend important documents and topics within the context.
  • Due Diligence: AI can not only confirm the quality and completeness of information and data, but it also helps evaluate and enhance decisions.
  • Automate Case Procedures: This could expedite hearings, saving time, resources, money and even emotional turmoil by reaching swift resolutions. It can also increase the capacity of legal professionals to handle more complex cases.
  • Contract Reviews: AI algorithms can rapidly sift through thousands of contracts, analyzing risks, opportunities, and efficiencies by looking at similarities, identifying differences and providing foresight.