Artificial Intelligence Is Transforming the Legal Industry: Here’s How to Catch the Wave

By Litera on January 14, 2019

Imagine, for a moment, that an entirely new legal tool has been unleashed. It’s revolutionary in the truest sense of the word: it transforms, seemingly overnight, nearly everything about the way that attorneys practice law. Remember, if you can, the difference between researching case precedents in the law library stacks and on a commercial database—and then multiply that efficiency by ten. That’s what this tool has the potential to produce, in terms of saving time and money and improving client results. It immediately gives every law firm that uses it a competitive advantage.

It is, in short, a big deal.

What would it take for you to adopt this new tool? What, if anything, would hold you back from using it? Could you even afford not to adopt it?

As we’re sure you’ve guessed, this hypothetical isn’t so far-fetched: it’s arguably what’s happening right now with artificial intelligence, or AI. Fortunately, even if you’ve fallen behind the technology-adoption curve, you can catch up, starting today.

AI Is Revolutionizing the Legal Industry

Lawyers have already realized numerous ways to streamline their workflows using AI. In the field of ediscovery—which has always walked the line between law and technology—AI is being used to reduce the initial volume of potentially discoverable data through advanced data-processing techniques. At the later stage of document review, which has historically been a money pit, technology-assisted review uses AI to rapidly and reliably triage potentially relevant information, and to do so affordably.

AI isn’t confined to ediscovery, either. Data analytics are useful in every area of legal practice, as they allow users to spot previously unrecognized patterns and make systematic improvements. Predictive analytics, where software uses a litigant’s or court’s previous actions to make educated guesses about what they’ll do in the future, are an especially exciting development. AI is also making short work of the drudgery of legal research, contract review, and due diligence.

These AI applications save time, effort, and—as a natural consequence—money. And they don’t merely save one person’s time: they can compress project timelines by analyzing unprecedented volumes of data in remarkably little time. More importantly, they measurably improve outcomes for clients. After all, if you can realistically advise your client, based on evidence, about how the court is likely to rule on a given argument, your client can make better decisions throughout a matter. Nor are these benefits simply theoretical. For example, ediscovery practitioners report that advanced processing reduces data volumes by 95 percent, which cuts the cost of every subsequent stage of ediscovery by a corresponding amount.

With advantages of this magnitude available, two questions arise. Can a law firm continue to competently represent clients without leveraging the available technology? And can it do so competitively while billing fairly for its lawyers’ time?

Rather than wasting time answering either question, we suggest catching the wave.

How to Get Started With AI Applications

Embrace change. We’ve been evangelists for innovative lawyers for a while now, particularly through our publication, The Changing Lawyer. While lawyers have traditionally been saddled with a reputation of being tech-averse and slow to change, we’ve learned that this isn’t based in reality. It’s nothing more than a mental habit or a limiting mindset—and it’s one that can be overcome.

Get excited about what AI can do for you. One of the quickest ways to get on board with any change is to visualize the positive effects that the change will bring about. This is where AI shines, because it can take over many of the boring, repetitive, and mindless tasks that are inherent to the practice of law. Yes, you have contracts to review, documents to proof, and legal research to parse. These tasks must, indeed, be done. They just don’t have to be done by you or, for that matter, any person. Think of your least-favorite boring task that doesn’t require any uniquely human skills. Chances are, there’s an AI application that can help with that. Your job without its worst aspects? That’s exciting!

Learn more about AI and other technological advances. We suggest starting with the rapidly approaching Legaltech New York conference. There are plenty of sessions and a keynote address focused on AI and digital strategy. There’s also a full-day workshop offering an AI “bootcamp,” if you want to jump in with both feet.

Looking for a way to start even sooner? We have a recorded webinar that discusses the applications of AI in legal practice, the myths of AI, and how to start ramping up your use of this cutting-edge technology.

Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Technology, Legal

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