Artificial intelligence is beginning to transform the legal profession in many ways.

Companies such as Kira Systems and LawGeex have started to offer tools specifically for contract review. These creations have the potential to refocus lawyers’ attention to more strategic and value-adding tasks that are not easily replicable by AI software.

In most cases AI allows lawyers to take on higher-level tasks such as advising to clients, negotiating deals and appearing in court.

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence refers to when machines carry out tasks that usually require human intelligence. The term machine learning refers to when computers use algorithms to analyse data and identify patterns.

What are the potential uses of AI in the legal sphere?

Amongst many, AI has the potential to assist in:

(1) legal research & document review; (2) due diligence; (3) contract review; (4) predicting legal outcomes; and (5) divorce settlement

The potential for AI to influence these areas stems from the simple notion that AI-powered software host computing powers much greater than that of humans. This enables software to analyse data much more accurately and efficiently than any human would be able to.

This is particularly important as a big portion of work that law firms do on behalf of clients includes reviewing contracts to identify risks and issues. Lawyers redline items, edit contracts and counsel clients if they should sign or not or help them negotiate better terms. AI can help analyse contracts in bulk as well as individual contracts.

Further, clients are often asking their legal counsel to predict the future with questions such as

“If we go to trial, how likely will it be that I win?” or

“Should I settle?”

With the use of AI that has access to years of trial data, lawyers much better equipped to advise on such matters.

How have law firms embraced AI?

Law firms are increasingly utilising AI to conduct due diligence in a more time efficient and accurate method that minimises the margin of human error.

An example of this forward thinking is the launch of FUSE by Allen & Overy in 2017. Having quickly identified the great impact that technology is having on the legal sector, the firm has been able to stay ahead of its competitors by utilising emerging technology to deliver services to its clients more efficiently.

In line with the firm’s focus on continued growth and providing all services for its clients under one roof, as expressed by Managing Partner Andrew Ballheimer, AI has been integrated into A&O’s long-term vision for success.

What are the potential challenges of AI?

Developments in technology may also pose challenges to companies. Law firms need to reform strategy and embrace AI growth.

According to a report by Deloitte in 2016, over 100,000 legal roles will be automated by 2036. The report stated that by 2020 law firms will be faced with a ‘tipping point’ for new strategy implementation that encapsulates AI technology.

Depending on how well firms reacts to AI, such technological advancements may either prove to be a stimulant to growth or obstacle.

With the introduction of important technology and the constant need for a competitive edge, it is difficult to envisage a future where AI does not play a central role.

Usama Kubo,

Commercial Awareness Director