The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Law Firms

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Artificial intelligence. Once the stuff of science fiction (who remembers Captain Kirk’s concern that he might be replaced by the advanced M5 supercomputer?), artificial intelligence (AI) is today very much a part of our reality. And while it’s easy to pick up where Captain Kirk left off and worry that the explosion of AI will take all the work and leave the current labor force with nothing to do, a report from MIT predicts that AI will actually create as many jobs as it eliminates. That goes for the legal world, too.
According to Marek Bardonski, Managing Partner & Head of AI at Sigmoidal, “AI is here to help lawyers and researchers by taking over the mundane and tedious tasks, leaving more time for business-critical procedures.” The removal of the drudgery that pervades law should be cause for celebration. Think of the inordinate number of hours law practitioners spend – and complain about!  – each month on time-intensive processes such as contract review, contract due diligence, legal research, billing, and more. Then consider what leveraging AI might open up for all of us.
Here’s a closer look at how AI is transforming the legal profession:
Contract Review
Fast, accurate, and easy contract reviews? That sounds too good to be true. Well, not anymore. AI is already working to make the manual review of contracts page by endless page a distant memory.
After working through yet another night, it finally occurred to Konrad Pola that there had to be a better way of doing this “essential, yet grueling, and time-consuming, work.” A corporate lawyer, whose experience spans securities law, corporate finance, and M&A, Pola turned his attention towards solving this problem and created Diligen Software.
Diligen’s AI technology cuts contract review time in half by streamlining the end-to-end process of sorting documents, summarizing contracts, and spotting critical provisions. A study of Diligen customers over a 12-month period revealed that the platform increases the accuracy of contract analysis by 80% compared to a lawyer manually reviewing contracts alone. And, to boot, this contract assistant doesn’t ask for vacation.
Legal Research
The practice of law inherently requires a lot of research. Basic issues research is a staple of first year associates; attorneys starting out spend their formative years learning how to conduct precise, accurate research that wins cases and positions them as experts in their field.
Finding details relevant to new cases can take days even weeks when using standard keyword search. ROSS is an example of an AI tool that augments keyword search with machine learning to both speed up the research process and improve the relevance of items found. ROSS has been widely touted for improving work processes, reducing costs, and perhaps most importantly, generating better results for clients. Ellen Gregg, Vice Chair, Womble Bond Dickinson praises ROSS for enabling lawyers “to analyze legal issues and make connections that would otherwise be invisible.” Now, that’s very smart.
Better Efficiency and Productivity
Although some in the legal community fear AI is a replacement for people’s jobs, Chris Perram is CEO of FileFacets, emphasizes that “it cannot replace the years of legal experience and real-world interactions, judgment, and knowledge of lawyers and those in the law community.” Instead, there is a complementary relationship developing that offers significant upside. “Combining human knowledge and skills with AI technology and tools can, and is proving to be, very successful in enhancing a firm’s scope of services and ultimately revenue, making processes more efficient and helping lawyers and staff get things done faster, cheaper, better—for themselves and their clients,” he says.
Kristin Johnson is an executive and corporate communications professional, and founder of KSJ Communications, a communications and public relations firm. She consults with a diverse roster of clients spanning the technology, professional services, financial services, public sector, consumer, and healthcare industries. In addition to Rocket Matter, Johnson writes for various other publications as well.