Artificial intelligence’s impact on legal industry
The fast-paced progress of artificial intelligence (AI) is set to impact every industry and profession, with the legal world now taken by storm as the revolution reaches the doors of law.
The DoNotPay app, founded by Joshua Browder, is supposed to be the world’s first robot lawyer, relying on ChatGPT technology that produces text on the basis of written prompts. It was all set to assist a defendant arguing his case against a speeding ticket and, although certain legal complications may have postponed the historical moment for now, the Pandora’s box containing participation of AI in the legal industry has now been opened.
While development in AI presents an opportunity for the legal industry to reduce costs, streamline legal procedures and save time, there exist concerns about violation of privacy and higher attrition rates that need redressing.
AI refers to highly advanced technology that can allow computers to imitate human intelligence, perceive senses, make decisions and take actions on their own. AI can now be exploited to improve performance in legal work that is purely mechanical and routine in nature. Jobs that are purely restricted to searching for information or documents could be performed more efficiently by AI technology.
Due diligence, for instance, consumes a lot of time and human resources that could otherwise be used for activities that add real value. What usually takes hours or days can probably be completed in a shorter time with the help of AI-powered tools.
Lawgeex, a legal technology company, provides contract review services. Legal documents are redlined as per instructions fed into the machine. Another legal tech company, Clearlaw, allows lawyers to view historical contracts, extract important data and categorise them as needed. This reduces the scope for error and improves service delivery.
AI tools could also be employed for preparing standard form contracts and contract management. This can save time for lawyers, which can be more productively reinvested in advisory work and formulation of legal strategies.
Prediction and research
AI also has the potential to transform litigation. Judgments, orders and other information available in public records could be analysed and used to predict outcomes in a pending case.
A Toronto-based startup called Blue J Legal is deploying AI-based legal prediction technology, which primarily focuses on tax law, for now. This AI, it is claimed, is able to predict the outcomes of cases with 90% accuracy. This can go a long way in helping litigators furnish more accurate information to clients and adopt better strategies to serve their interests. It may also help in minimising the number of cases that go to trial, consequentially reducing the burden on already overburdened courts.
Therefore, AI has the potential to provide an opportunity for litigators to form opinions corroborated by data and analytics, instead of relying merely on intuition.
Another area where AI could increase productivity is legal research. From students and junior lawyers going through volumes of case law manuals and commentaries, to using Indian legal search engines like SCC Online or Manupatra, legal research has come a long way.
However, they are restricted to keyword matching to find relevant cases and legal information. Casetext, powered by AI, has gone beyond that and focuses on finding cases based on legal opinions expressed in plain English.
Despite all the advances in AI, it seems unlikely that lawyers will become dispensable. It is true that certain jobs that only require searching databases and documents for relevant information may run the risk of being automated.
But the art of arguing before courts and tribunals requires much more than mere imitation of human intelligence and behaviour. As far as emotional intelligence and the ability to think on one’s feet are concerned, a machine will always be a step behind humans. With the adoption of AI, instead of spending hours on data collection, the time saved could be used for roles that require greater intellectual engagement.
Having said that, technology backed by AI needs to be adopted with abundant precaution. AI-backed machines function only on the basis of information fed to them, and they also need to be taught how to process that information. Since the entire system is solely dependent on information, there exists the potential for privacy breaches and misuse. Information fed into the system and processed needs to be regulated by a strong data protection regime.
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