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How Law Firms and Legal Teams Are Using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Today

June 7, 2022

While many technologists envision a world where artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) handle the majority of work for us, we’re not yet at the point where we can sit on a beach while software handles our business. But AI and ML are rapidly evolving, augmenting human input. Law firms, corporate legal teams, and the public sector are seeing AI and ML free their people to focus on higher-value work, including advising clients and solving complex business challenges.

Notes Mike Haven, Head of Legal Operations at Intel and President of CLOC:

"The market has found a way to improve efficiency in these environments through automation solutions that allow users to connect the dots and remove from the plates of legal professionals painful, manual, routine tasks that are more quickly and effectively accomplished by a machine. … And the improved processes can be measured — in terms of cycle time, resource time, and cost, for example — and benchmarked against the manual processes of yesterday to demonstrate dramatic efficiency gains and savings."

AI is now being used to identify privileged documents in massive document volumes and to provide analyses to inform litigation strategies. Organizations are also implementing AI and ML to automate and accelerate the workflows that are at the heart of their business processes — project management, communication, knowledge management, and collaboration.

Why GCs, IT Teams, and Legal Ops Should Consider AI and ML

While it’s taken several years for artificial intelligence and machine learning to mature, the technology is well on its way to establishing itself as core to predictive analytics and process automation.

Thompson Reuters makes this bold prediction: “Within the next few years, we will find ourselves on the cusp of a revolution in the practice of law led by the adoption of artificial intelligence — in particular, by in-house lawyers. Much like email changed the way we do business every day, AI will become ubiquitous — an indispensable assistant to practically every lawyer. Those that do not adopt and embrace the change will get left behind. Those that do will ultimately find themselves freed up to do the two things there always seems to be too little time for: thinking and advising.”

Related Content: Lawyer's Guide to Document Automation

4 Legal Use Cases for AI and ML in Action Today

There’s no need to wait for the AI and ML revolution that Thompson Reuters describes. Let’s explore four impactful ways that law firms, in-house legal teams, and the public sector are using AI and ML today.

  1. Contract Review and Management: Every legal team spends significant time reviewing contracts to spot risks, identify clauses that need new language to eliminate those risks, and determine which terms could be negotiated for more positive outcomes. AI and ML can take over much of the analysis, flagging points of concern for teams to focus on.
  2. Legal Research: Legal research requires reviewing massive numbers of documents. AI and ML can automate the review process, using natural language processing to identify which information is relevant to a case. AI and ML can then search for additional documents that share similar characteristics and have a high likelihood of also being relevant, sending these documents to team members for examination.
  3. Due Diligence: The due diligence process is time-consuming when conducted manually and is an ideal use case for AI and ML. The technology can find a variety of types of information on potential suppliers, partners, or other parties. AI and ML can also analyze data on past decisions with positive or negative outcomes and identify which factors are likely to have an impact either way.
  4. Forecasting Legal Outcomes: One of the most interesting applications of AI and ML is predictive analytics. Predictive analytics can be used to evaluate the outcomes of past legal proceedings and make predictions based on this data. It can also provide answers to “if-then” questions to help with decision-making.

Preparing for an AI- and ML-Driven Future

"The secret component to successful AI and ML is that people need to intervene to improve the machine’s results and outputs. This is where the push for STEM education is going to pay dividends: You need smart people to create the machines and to figure out what to do with them."

— Thom Wisinski, Chief Knowledge Officer at Haynes and Boone, LLP

As law firms, corporate legal teams, and the public sector build out their technology stacks, it’s crucial to keep the future in mind. Ideally, organizations will move to cloud-native solutions that set them up for easier implementation of data-driven technologies. Additionally, these teams should seek out software solutions that easily integrate with the tools they need to implement and experience the efficiencies gained by AI and ML.

Want to see more trends? Download 10 Legal Tech Trends for 2022 and Beyond for Law Firms and Corporate Legal Departments.

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