How Will AI Affect Your Law Office?

By Tad Thomas | Jan 26, 2021 | Tad's Tech Corner

Technology is an essential part of any modern practicing attorney’s toolkit. In Tad’s Tech Corner, join me as I discuss how to best utilize technology– both from a device and software standpoint– during your daily lawyering tasks and during trial. Discussions, as always, are welcome in the comments section below.

— Tad Thomas

Whether you realize it or not, artificial intelligence (AI) has infiltrated your law firm. We use robots or machines to do tedious, time-consuming tasks like collecting data, searching records, verifying facts, going through old cases, and more. As AI begins to come into its own in terms of its use by lawyers, it’s important to understand how AI will affect your law office.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

The term artificial intelligence can be a bit misleading when it comes to its application in the legal field. When you think of the term “AI” you may draw on images and scenes from science fiction, like Star Trek or The Terminator. In regard to the law, AI can be looked at as cognitive computing—which essentially means teaching computers how to learn, reason, communicate, and make decisions.

Cognitive tools are trained to complete tasks traditionally done by people where the focus is on patterns in data, testing the data, and finding results. With the right AI, a law firm could have the ability to offer better, fast, and potentially less expensive legal services.

The Effect of AI on Law Firms

According to the ABA, the “Law Firms in Transition” survey found that 52 percent of law firms are replacing some human resources with technology. As a result, the majority of respondents believe tech replacing human resources, in general, is permanent, and 86 percent believe law firms using fewer support staff is also permanent.

While the potential and realized effects of AI on the legal industry can seem intimidating, it’s important to remember that there are many positions that are irreplaceable. For example, lawyers who do custom work, litigators, and high-level advisers and strategists are not going anywhere.

One of the areas that will most be affected by AI is how attorneys develop legal strategies. By implanting AI and machine learning into strategic decision making, lawyers can back better biases determinations and scan through years of trial data to predict legal outcomes.

That same technology, when combined with marketing data, can make it easier to understand the acquisition and retention of clients. This includes how clients choose one firm over another and which lawyers have the most successful cases. Overall, AI has the ability to let lawyers focus more on the challenging parts of a case. AI could eradicate research errors and automate text and image redaction.

Enhancing Your Law Firm With Artificial Intelligence

As it pertains to law, AI offers multiple benefits to law firms, including convenience, freedom from mundane work, and more time for other aspects of the job. More specifically, you can enhance your legal practice with AI in the following ways:

  • Legal research and due diligence. Clients can save a significant amount of money when a lawyer doesn’t have to charge for extensive legal research. ROSS Intelligence, for example, is a legal research service that purports to be powered by some of the most advanced AI currently available. ROSS claims to have the ability to read over a million pages of law in a second to find the exact pages or passages a lawyer needs. AI’s ability to rapidly confirm facts also accelerates arbitration and legal proceedings.
  • Review documents and contracts. AI has the ability to review documents and flag them as important to a particular case. Once a document is deemed relevant, the machine learning algorithms can work to find other documents that are also relevant. In regard to contracts, AI makes revisions more efficient by highlighting standard clauses for different applications and sorting out problems faster.
  • Predict legal outcomes. With its ability to store years’ worth of legal data and sift through it in a blink of an eye, AI can provide lawyers with insight on similar cases to help clients with their cases. When you have the ability to spend less time on research, you can spend more time on analyses, counseling, negotiations, and court appearances.

There are dozens of companies currently focused on developing legal AI software for law firms. It’s important to be prepared for new waves of technology and understand how to best implement the AI that will work for your law firm as well as help your clients’ meet their legal goals.

If you’re looking to implement more AI into your law firm, begin by focusing on a growth mentality and promoting a progressive-thinking culture. Consider experimenting with the latest technology and incorporating the ones that work for you into your law firm. Doing so brings about the potential for a more productive and meaningful practice.