Artificial intelligence (AI) has trickled into every aspect of our existence, significantly impacting how we live, work, and communicate. Perhaps the biggest value added of new and improved technology is the convenience it creates. Using a machine to complete a labor-intensive task frees a lawyer from the most tedious or mundane tasks and permits the lawyer to focus on analysis, counseling, and advocacy.
Artificial intelligence is not a replacement for lawyers. It is a tool for facilitating greater productivity and efficiency. More importantly, by comparing information to other relevant information, while also considering the lawyer’s skills in identifying issues or the effect of otherwise obscure facts on the events at hand, the work product improves. The key is knowing when and how to apply these emerging technologies and to recognize their limitations. Achieving that balance will be essential to positively transform the legal profession.
Applying AI for legal applications
AI technology creates more time for attorneys to advise clients, appear in court, and work to negotiate deals. It has the capability to take away the monotonous process of reviewing and managing “boilerplate” within legal contracts, which is a huge part of the work that law firms do on behalf of their clients. After all, much of the law is based on predictability and precedent. AI can help streamline many of these processes and repetitive tasks with high predictable results.
In the business world, artificial intelligence can serve as a guide to determine which provisions of a standard contract to include when a customized version is required or when doing business with a new customer. An AI system can also notify with alerts in advance of critical dates in a contract—like renewals and options. These pop-ups always help a business manage an agreement more effectively. Of course, the main goal is to always identify risks and problems with how contracts may be revised to avoid negative impacts for clients. AI can often help sort out problems faster with fewer mistakes that are often overlooked by the human eye.
It’s vital for critical points that are included in all contracts to be crystal clear and transparent to both parties. At the same time, as a litigator, it’s imperative to realize that different people can read and interpret contracts in different ways. As business contracts are becoming longer and more complex in our multifaceted economy, AI can help both parties in drafting those contracts by pulling standard clauses for application to a given situation. Then, the attorney can focus their time on the most important new points when constructing a mutually beneficial agreement.
Consistency in the drafting of contracts is also key. For example, if a party wants a legal term referred to in a specific way throughout an agreement, it must be ensured that this is accurate and incorporated in a timely manner because as we know, any variation from that practice could prove damaging. AI software can keep these terms consistent while also identifying any variation with a warning to the practitioners.
The potential to reduce overall cost
One of the best circumstances where AI can significantly reduce litigation costs is when it is applied to electronic discovery during a major case. The technology can deliver potential savings by lessening the number of billable hours to gather necessary facts based on document review as well as create a timeframe and fact pattern. The legal team on the case can then use its resources more strategically for analysis, which in turn, may reduce the cost of litigation.
Another example is the amount of time an attorney spends proofing a document opposed to running the original through AI software. AI often saves hours of time in these situations, with accuracy, which then translates into monetary saving as less attorney time is involved in finding answers or fixing mistakes. Ultimately, applying AI in these circumstances consistently can, over time, make up for the cost of AI programs.
What businesses should be doing
There are two areas of utmost importance that businesses should focus on related to AI. First, look at using algorithms and online tools for both writing and managing existing business contracts. This day in age, we have access to the best contracts in any industry written by distinguished lawyers. Everyone should take advantage of the wealth of knowledge available from already prepared contracts which can then be modified as appropriate.
Also, knowing that we all live in a litigious society, anyone who files a commercial lawsuit will end up wanting to review all of your documents. That means compiling and providing information from tablets, mobile devices, computers, and third-party data services. This process can be extremely long, stressful and costly—so you should use a powerful IT management tool to code your information. At that point, you’ll not only be able to provide the relevant information quickly but in a more cost-efficient manner.
Future prospects for disruptive innovation in litigation
AI has the potential to make the discovery phase of the litigation process proceed more quickly. Since this can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of a case, these systems could potentially help parties resolve their disputes more quickly throughout any arbitration or litigation.
It’s not unusual to find thousands of computer files, emails, calls, text, and video messages all of which relate to a complex case. Right now, firms like my own, use computer algorithms to identify keywords or other relevant information that is essentially buried in electronic documents. Only until the material has been gathered can it be reviewed by a legal team, then analyzed for true significance. For major cases, we may hire more people to assist in a general review which would then reduce the volume of documents needed for review by our own attorneys’ later use the case.
The evolution of AI tools will continue to add powerful analytic components, like creating a more straightforward chronology of events and identifying fact patterns that make a case. Yet with all of that in mind, and despite all of the pending advancements still to come with AI in law, the ability to be nimble and make quick reactions during unexpected occurrences at trial—which can happen at a moment’s notice—can never be replaced by a machine.