Artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly evolving how lawyers practice, especially corporate counsel and business lawyers. In fact, in a recent survey, more than 39 percent of in-house counsel anticipated AI will be part of their daily practice within the next decade. Why the shift? Clients aren’t as willing to pay sky-high billable rates for routine work like document review or discovery due diligence. Many law firms already outsource these legal services to lower cost alternative legal service providers. AI provides additional cost savings while reducing potential error and liability. For many firms, automation is a logical step to streamline their practice.
AI in the legal profession has the potential for countless applications. For example, AI can quickly automate mundane or straightforward services, allowing lawyers to focus on higher-level problem-solving.
To demonstrate, let’s assume a corporate counsel conducts regular contract review between vendors as part of its due diligence. The process of reading through lengthy terms can be painstaking and time-consuming. Instead, attorneys can train AI software to review and notify an attorney about any changes in existing contracts or concerning terms. The software could even propose changes to benefit the business. AI allows attorneys to focus on impending litigation, spend more face-to-face time with clients, and direct more energy to complex legal tasks.
Other ways AI is used in the legal profession include:
- Automating low-level document drafting
- Identifying potentially relevant documents for discovery
- Finding clauses for review
- Collecting vital legal analytics to improve performance
- Predicting litigation outcomes based on existing case research
- Electronic billing and tracking
The nation’s top law firms and corporations already use AI software to delegate the time-consuming process of legal document analysis. Traditional document review requires counsel to spend hours sifting through potentially hundreds or thousands of documents to find specific communications or relevant provisions and clauses. Using predictive machine learning, AI software can identify and flag potentially relevant documents, terms, or keywords in seconds and bring them to counsel’s attention, something not possible with previous rules-based solutions.
For example, imagine a shipping business routinely signs renewing contracts with several vendors overseas. During litigation, the shipping business is subpoenaed for communications regarding a particular shipment of goods. Without AI software, in-house counsel would need to manually review hundreds, if not thousands, of documents, emails, and other documents to find information regarding the shipment. With AI, the attorney could specify search parameters and deliver the relevant information within minutes.
AI legal document analysis:
- Instantly identifies time-sensitive data for clients
- Reduces work volume so attorneys can focus on strategy rather than menial tasks
- Mitigates the risk of human error
- Efficiently identifies, extracts, and analyzes information to save time and money
Legal research giants Westlaw and LexisNexis have utilized term automation for years. However, the introduction of AI takes legal research to new heights. It used to take hours, or even days, to find authoritative case law. Using AI tools, attorneys can identify relevant precedents for a case almost instantly. AI software eliminates excessive research costs and can save clients and businesses considerable time and money.
By quickly identifying relevant case information, attorneys can more accurately predict litigation outcomes and better advise clients on case-strategy. One of the most common questions litigators face is, “Should I settle?” By compiling the latest case outcomes, an attorney can more quickly and efficiently advise clients on their chances of winning a case.
AI in legal research helps to expedite the case process and may provide more favorable outcomes to clients and attorneys.
Paralegals and legal assistants are the foundation of a smoothly functioning law firm. They complete simple legal tasks so attorneys can focus on more complex aspects of law practice. AI legal assistants are an affordable digital alternative. They provide attorneys with powerful tools such as scheduling, document review, contract negotiation strategy, legal research, and more.
An AI legal assistant goes a step further than a traditional paralegal. It can screen potential cases, identify weaknesses in legal arguments, and find recent relevant case outcomes. Think of an AI legal assistant as an analytical shortcut that can save you countless hours and give you more time to focus on complex areas of your legal practice. Over time, an AI legal assistant becomes personalized and refines its tools to fit the firm’s needs. For example, each time you ask your AI to perform a task, it learns your preferences. You can specify how you would like the task performed, what information is not relevant, and what data you prefer. The more your AI learns about your preferences, the more it adapts to your business requirements.
The AI options on the market are growing. New AI legal software options are appearing quickly, but they aren’t all equal.
Here’s the best way to choose AI legal software for your firm. First, reflect on your practice and how your firm intends to use AI. If your firm receives a significant influx of contracts regularly, choose an AI software to help you manage the flow and automatically identify contract types and provisions that are important to your practice. If your primary concern is litigation prediction and case research, look for legal software options that focus on these core areas. Before you purchase AI legal software, assess it for its functionality and user experience.
Implementing AI legal software can be complicated. It helps to have a basic knowledge of adopting automated software. If your firm lacks an in-house technical team, consultants, or associates with technical expertise, look for AI legal software with excellent customer support and an easy-to-use interface.