Artificial Intelligence: A Litigator’s New Best Friend?

Artificial Intellifence & Law Firms: AI is a Litigator's New Best FriendAs the ways to utilize artificial intelligence (AI) grow, so do the amount of people implementing this cutting-edge technology to their work.  According to Statista, the rate of adoption is quite high — global revenues from AI for enterprise applications is projected to grow from $1.62B in 2018 to $31.2B in 2025. Its popularity reaches every sector and is substantially affecting the legal space as well.

The possibilities for lawyers to benefit from AI are endless. Many automated and machine-learning features enable lawyers to complete a number of tasks faster and cheaper.  For cost-conscious clients, AI provides a ready means of evolving the way you extract efficiency. It is already being used in various ways.

Still hesitant? This article is intended to help litigation attorneys looking to utilize AI to maximize their outcomes with minimal additional effort or expense.

Law Firms and AI:
Landscape

“Artificial intelligence” is a bit of a buzz word, but generally it refers to cognitive computing by which a machine learns how to complete tasks that were traditionally done by humans. AI mimics certain operations of the human mind like recognizing speech, translating languages, and making decisions based on data and patterns.

Companies that operate in the legal space are applying this technology to improve analytics, and to manage and reduce risk.

As a litigator in particular, think of AI as a way to gain more access to big data to make better decisions, create actionable intelligence, and tell your story better.

It’s impossible for a litigator to have complete knowledge of all relevant data. When it comes to predicting case outcomes, Harvard Law reports that, “because AI can access more of the relevant data, it can be better than lawyers at predicting the outcomes of legal disputes and proceedings, and thus helping clients make decisions. For example, a London law firm used data on the outcomes of 600 cases over 12 months to create a model for the viability of personal injury cases. Indeed, trained on 200 years of Supreme Court records, an AI is already better than many human experts at predicting SCOTUS decisions.”

AI can also significantly speed up the various processes and operations within your law firm.

Productivity and efficiency are the key here. Time spent completing tedious and menial tasks can be avoided with AI solutions.

Not only does this make better use of your time, but it will also enable you to offer more transparency to your clients. And, with an increase in available time, you can spend more time taking on more cases and ensuring wins, which in turn will make profits rise.

Law Firms Using AI:
Examples

AI is already being used in the legal space in a variety of ways. These processes include document review, legal research, due diligence, contract review/management, predicting legal outcomes, divorce, and more.

The e-discovery field seems to be the earliest to adapt to AI in the legal space. Using AI, litigators are able to thread, batch, encrypt, and search more efficiently than ever before.

Surprisingly, AI has been available to litigators longer than you would expect. Geoffrey A. Vance tells Information Age that “it is not a totally new phenomenon, and the legal industry has been using AI in the litigation discovery process for nearly 10 years.” It’s just continuing to evolve.

We can look at Bloomberg Law’s Points of Law for an example, which focuses on getting to the heart of a court opinion by pulling out all of the important and relevant aspects of what a judge says. When interpreting statutes, rules, regulations and more, this can prove extremely valuable.

Bloomberg Law asserts that “this helps legal researchers unearth documents that they could not have found previously and more easily identify similarities between court opinions. Built over five years across 13 million court opinions and counting, this application of AI can minimize the number of errors or missed documents that a user might face.”

As a litigator, you’d be able to search millions of legal data points by company, law firm, or judge to better help predict possible outcomes and extrapolate litigation costs.

Imagine information surfacing that you previously believed did not exist, as well as eliminating error to extract the most of your pending case.  This in turn means more litigation wins, and more time to spend earning new business.

In another example of the current state of legal research and where it is going, a New York Times report describes a Miami litigator who tested himself against his firm’s AI software. Ross Intelligence sifts through thousands of cases and delivers a ranked list of the most relevant ones. While litigating a case, he decided to test his common research methods against Ross Intelligence. The result was that after 10 hours of searching, he discovered a case whose facts mirrored what he was working on. This same case was discovered by Ross almost instantly.

By using AI to help process and analyze large amounts of information and data, and cognitive computing to help interpret the case law, your judge, and your opposing lawyer’s history, AI services offer a cleaner, clearer, and more predictable litigation process.  This makes the litigation process faster, cheaper, and more transparent.

Law Firms and AI:
Barriers

Notwithstanding the benefits, AI still is not pervasive among litigators. When examined closely, the barriers preventing AI from reaching its maximum potential in the legal space turn out to be only imagined impediments – not real ones.

Job replacement is the first fear that surfaces at the mention of AI.  Although the most menial and repetitive jobs will be replaced, it is now well known that new and less tedious job roles replace them.

More specifically, a recent Deloitte Insight report regarding technology in the legal space demonstrates that “technology has already contributed to the loss of more than 31,000 jobs in the sector but that there has been an overall increase of approximately 80,000, most of which are higher skilled and better paid.” Reducing low skilled and high-turnover human resources, while increasing job satisfaction for your high skilled and valuable personnel, is one of the primary benefits of using AI.

Confidentiality and cybersecurity worries law firms, preventing AI and legal technology from reaching its maximum potential in the legal space. In 2017 alone, 22 percent of law firms experienced a cyberattack or data breach, which is up 14 percent from the previous year. Examples of this include DLA Piper, the Panama Papers, Applyby, Cravath, Weil Gotshal, and more.

However, according to CSO, AI provides a proactive approach for tackling this rapidly evolving threat by harnessing self-learning algorithms to understand the growing threat consumers face.  Cybersecurity risks and concerns actually fall more on law firms that do not adapt, and instead rely on outdated technology.

Thus, instead of increasing a law firm’s cybersecurity risk profile, AI can actually substantially reduce risk and increase cybersecurity.

Lastly, more tech savvy lawyers might question the ability of AI services to provide helpful results without large amounts of quality data.  In fact, the ABA Journal highlights that “with increased computing power and more material, law firms and companies are evolving the practice and business of litigation. However, experts say these projects can be hindered by the quality of data and lack of oversight.”

Similarly, as Erin Hichman of Law.com reports, “most AI initiatives are not ‘plug & play,’ or perfectly functional right out of the box. As a result, firms need to plan effectively for the development and launch of AI platforms. A solid foundation of data, processes, talent, culture, and technology serve as the bedrock building blocks for success with AI and should be the starting point for application development.”

Although AI requires data, litigators often already use digital formats to store and process information. The ABA reports that “today, many law firms have digital client files as the primary client file, and every law firm has at least some digital client records, including email, billing and word processing files.”

With a trained team in place and a cohesive strategy, assembling the requisite data can be done with little effort. In addition to storing clients’ data digitally, The Algorithmic Society states that AI’s capabilities will further be enhanced through “streamlining documents and making them computational, processes, and simplification of law, will combine to improve the quality of legal services. Variability will be reduced, decreasing the chances of errors… it will be focused on using data and other information to identify risks and develop appropriate mitigation strategies.”

Adapting to the available tools now will prove more and more useful in the future, by generating more data you are then able to apply to the various litigation matters you handle on a daily basis.

Conclusion

Pairing AI’s self-learning algorithms with human-pattern recognition capabilities will provide litigators and their law firms with a virtually unlimited ability to look at vast amounts of data at a striking speed.

As the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct states, “To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.”

As AI technology tools continue to develop for legal software, law firms will see an increase in efficiency and law firm productivity while shedding unproductive legacy systems along the way. Waiting will only hinder your potential as a litigator as others are already using this cutting-edge technology.

A version of this article was first published in Law Technology Today on 10/15/2018!