Traditional law firms are at a tipping point. With the continuous change in laws and regulations across all industries, along with clients’ demands for the utmost legal service (and rightly so), lawyers have to keep up with these changes, while also keeping clients satisfied with the work being done on their behalf. And technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), is becoming even more advanced. Although artificial intelligence isn’t taking over the law entirely, it is certainly contributing to its evolution.
According to a Deloitte study conducted in 2017, significant reforms will disrupt the traditional practice of law over the next two decades. With the evolution of AI and automation, approximately 114,000 junior-level legal jobs will be replaced by computers by 2040.
It is important to note that automation through technology will help lawyers become more streamlined and competitive. Some professionals have incorporated e-discovery, virtual assistants, and chatbots. As big data is becoming more complex and voluminous, lawyers can use artificial intelligence in document and data reviews to spot patterns and digest large amounts of information.
Let’s look at how AI will transform the legal profession.
What Is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence is the concept and ability of computers to learn human-like tasks, such as decision-making and language translation. Think of your smartphone. It’s brimming with artificial intelligence. AI also learns from its own experiences through machine-learning and deep learning, adjusting and improving its decision-making for future tasks. AI can process large amounts of data, uncovering patterns and predicting outcomes that would take a human many significant hours to achieve.
Artificial intelligence is big business. Since 2000, AI startups have increased by 1,400 percent. Moreover, since 2000, venture capitalist investments in these startups have increased six-fold. By 2021, global spending on AI will hit $57.6 billion. AI also comes in second, behind consumer personalization, as the next big marketing trend.
Ways for AI to Augment Legal Services
Artificial intelligence has already changed the legal profession through chatbots, virtual assistants, and e-discovery. But how will it further contribute to the practice of law?
Document review is one area that will significantly benefit from the assistance of AI. AI can sort through voluminous documents, flagging relevant issues and spotting trends. For example, AI can sort through all relevant health documents and legal documents in a substantial pharmaceutical or medical malpractice lawsuit, identifying medical issues and drug interactions while predicting legal outcomes.
Further, AI doesn’t take a break, need to pick up the kids, or have to grab that fourth cup of coffee. Thus, computers can perform these tasks at a much faster and timelier rate than humans, while quantifying their findings. Computers can forward questionable documents to humans for review and analysis, instead of having humans review every single document.
AI also can recognize natural languages, such as mispronunciations, jargon, and pauses. Thus, AI can also sort through trial and deposition documents, compiling the data for easier analysis by humans. Additionally, with natural language processing, AI can sort through court cases, identifying which language is relevant to the legal case.
For contracts and agreements, AI can process the language of these documents, flag issues, and identify risks. In a recent study by LawGeex, corporate lawyers with decades of experience were pitted against AI for a non-disclosure agreement review. AI finished the review with a 94 percent rate of accuracy whereas the lawyers finished with an 85 percent rate of accuracy. Further, it took the lawyers an average of 92 minutes to review the document; AI finished it in 26 seconds. This is not only impressive, but it demonstrates that AI cuts down on human error, reducing potential liability.
The lawyers in this study weren’t concerned about AI taking their jobs, although AI was the clear winner in this task. Instead, the lawyers looked at these results positively, reflecting that AI can handle many mundane tasks, such as reviewing hundreds of pages of contracts. By taking over these repetitive tasks, the lawyers can work more efficiently and cost-effectively.
AI can further break down contracts and agreements into definitions, sections, and clauses, allowing attorneys to compare different contracts. They can then perform higher skilled tasks such as determining liability exposure, the necessity for further negotiation or deliberation, or the possibility of settlement.
Every law firm around the globe performs its share of legal research. Even though more experienced lawyers are experts in their practice area, with legislation and the business world in continual flux, lawyers must keep up with any changes impacting their clients. Enter AI.
AI can sort through legal opinions, statutes and regulations, and agency rules and insight, keeping lawyers updated on legal changes. Further, AI can spot trends and patterns in an agency or court opinion, giving lawyers additional insight into preparing their cases.
Benefits of AI in the Law
Artificial intelligence takes the mundane out of law practice. By improving document review, contract review, and research, to name a few, AI can more accurately identify issues while completing reviews at seemingly warp speed. This frees attorneys up for higher level, more creative work while reducing the cost of overall representation.
With the help of AI, lawyers can reduce their time on monotonous, yet essential tasks, automating the process for speed and accuracy. According to a recent study by McKinsey, lawyers can automate 23 percent of their job. Further, in a recent scholarly paper, a labor economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a professor at the University North Carolina School of Law determined that, realistically, automation will cut a lawyer’s hours at work by 2.5 percent over the next five years.
In the next several years, lawyers will spend the bulk of their time doing what they do best, advising clients and working on high-level issues. This provides additional value for clients, where repetitive, mundane tasks will be completed by technology rather than a team of lawyers or paralegals, thus driving down overall rates.
Downside of AI in the Law
As with any disruptive technology, questions arise. Who owns the data processed by AI, the lawyer or the AI provider? Is there an assurance that this data will be kept confidential and private? How is attorney-client privilege preserved if third parties can access this data? Will it be unethical one day to not implement AI? How will firms adapt over the next several years?
Take a recent case out of Ontario, Canada. After winning their summary judgment motion, the attorneys for the prevailing party requested an award for their attorney fees and costs. The judge questioned the charges, stating that the cost of the case would have been less had the attorneys used artificial intelligence, noting that the attorneys’ case preparation time would have been reduced.
Although this case is not yet the norm, it could be. Perhaps this is the direction we’re headed. If the legal industry doesn’t embrace technology, not only will it lag behind, but it may become unethical not to use the technology. Or, lawyers could lose cases to judges who are aware of the benefits of AI.
For a fraction of the cost, lawyers and firms can use AI to reduce overhead, increase accuracy, and accelerate their cases, all benefiting clients. Lawyers and firms that don’t embrace these technological advances may be left behind by 2030. However, those that do will possess a strategic advantage over those who don’t. Firms that nimbly adopt AI will be able to answer questions and solve problems faster than their competition, creating repeat business and a loyal client base.
Also, as with all new technological advances, AI is only as good as the people who use it. Thus, law firms are going to have to train their teams on this new technology, creating external systems and procedures. Lawyers need to engage AI professionals to set up, train, and troubleshoot those systems. There will be a learning curve in the industry, just like when we switched from typewriters to personal computers. Like personal computers, this new technology isn’t going away.
Law is at the crossroads of AI disruption. It’s time to rethink legal services with the help of smart computers. Or someone else will beat us to it.
Contact The Marrone Law Firm, LLC For Legal Assistance Today
Veteran litigator and television guest commentator Joseph M. Marrone, Esquire is dedicated to getting clients the recovery they deserve, whether it’s from a catastrophic injury or wrongful death. He can be reached at 215-732-6700 or 866-732-6700.
Media Contact for Marrone Law Firm, LLC: Brigette Lutz, [email protected]
 Jarrod Haggerty, Deloitte UK, Objections Overruled: The Case for Disruptive Technology in the Legal Profession,https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/financial-advisory/articles/the-case-for-disruptive-technology-in-the-legal-profession.html(last accessed 04/01/2019).
 Karl Utermohlen, Towards Data Science, 15 Artificial Intelligence (AI) Stats You Need to Know is 2018, https://towardsdatascience.com/15-artificial-intelligence-ai-stats-you-need-to-know-in-2018-b6c5eac958e5(last access 04/01/2019).
 Jonathan Marciano, Hackernoon, 20 Top Lawyers Were Beaten by Legal AI: Here Are the Surprising Results, https://hackernoon.com/20-top-lawyers-were-beaten-by-legal-ai-here-are-their-surprising-responses-5dafdf25554d(last access 04/01/2019).
 Steve Lohr, The New York Times, A.I. is Doing Legal Work. But It Won’t Replace Lawyers, Yet.https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/19/technology/lawyers-artificial-intelligence.html(last accessed 04/01/2019).
 Robert Ambrogi, Above the Law, Judge Penalizes Lawyers For Not Using Artificial Intelligence, https://abovethelaw.com/2019/01/judge-penalizes-lawyers-for-not-using-artificial-intelligence/?rf=1(last accessed 04/01/2019).