Where once lawyers dealt with reams upon reams of paper, they now deal with terabytes of data. The legal profession generates a vast quantity of documents for even simple cases. Anyone who has ever sold a piece of property, been through a divorce or planned a will can attest to developing temporary carpal tunnel syndrome from just signing their names. The legal field now has a new tool for organizing and tracking all of that data. AI (artificial intelligence) is revolutionizing the way attorney’s and other legal professionals do business.
Creating a Paradigm Shift
Part of AI is a phenomenon known as machine learning. Algorithms embedded into software ‘teach’ the software to recognize patterns, how to sort documents, and a host of other applications. Today’s document management software is capable of searching for concepts instead of simple keyword phrases. This is changing the very core of how the legal profession works. In addition to being able to monitor workflow in real-time, algorithms can now predict the likelihood of litigation based on what has happened in similar prior circumstances. Reducing risk is one of the most important things a legal professional does. Whether risk reduction is by in-house counsel protecting the bottom line of a corporation, or criminal attorney’s attempting to give their client the best possible outcome, the concept of software that can help mitigate risk by predicting what is likely to happen is changing the landscape of the practice of law.
Natural language processing, another feature of AI that goes hand in hand with machine learning, can scan and predict what documents or clauses may be relevant to a current case. These strides in AI legal software are making it faster and easier for legal professionals to generate contracts, proposals, pleadings, and other relevant documents. AI can now do research in seconds that once would have taken weeks for a legal professional to do.
It all sounds like a positive change, right? However, the legal profession is notorious for being suspicious of change despite companies like making their lives a whole lot easier as seen in this article from Valuewalk. There seems to be an ingrained loyalty to the traditional culture within the legal field. If you want a visual testament to this truth, see how many firms still have law libraries with actual books. Online law libraries like Nexus and Westlaw long ago replaced the value of cumbersome volumes of books that needed to be updated almost faster than they were printed. Still, many in the legal field cling to the comfort of having the bound copies of hardback books available as a resource.
To keep their competitive edge though, attorney’s are being forced to accept what AI legal software can do.
Contract Management Software
There is an ever-growing list of companies producing various types of document management software that is based on AI technology. Evisort, founded by a collaboration between Harvard Law and MIT, was designed primarily as contract management software for the legal field. Evisort has created AI-driven contract management software that is capable of reading a contract and understanding its meaning. It can then sort contracts, file them and has fifty different searches and retrieve functions. It is a cloud-based platform that can track expiring contracts, search non-compliance issues, and issue alerts based on whatever parameters are set. Evisort leads the way in contract management designed specifically for the legal field, but it is far from the only player in the game. However, Evisort has received 4.5 Million in seed funding from prominent investors.
It Will Not Replace Your Attorney
AI is in the legal field to stay. It is not a passing fad that seems likely to burn itself out. The concept of removing some of the most tedious parts of the practice of law, and leaving that to an AI program, will continue to grow. It frees up time that legal professionals can now use to better focus on the more meaningful parts of their work. Using AI contract management allows attorney’s more time to focus on their relationships with their clients, crafting a real understanding of their needs, and representing them well in court. For all of its’ explosive growth, AI cannot replace building relationships and offering personalized attention to legal issues. For that, we still need attorneys.